Finalists for Ningxia Winemakers Challenge

Ningxia Winemakers Challenge 2015 to 2017 Tractor Driving Through Vineyard

There were just over 140 application for the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge. The judges received each application in a standard format, covering work experience, education and essays on topics such as reasons for applying, wine-making philosophies, favorite grapes and proudest achievements. The goal: to create a qualified, intriguing and diverse group. Given this, both work background and essay questions were useful.

Judges scored the applications out of 20 points, with each application evaluated three times. Here is a brief description of the categories:

18-20 Extraordinary
Strong wine-making background, solid application answers and a compelling story. A “wow” candidate. (About 10 percent of candidates)

15-17 Excellent
Strong wine-making and other experience. They should easily be able to handle making wine in Ningxia. (About 20 percent of candidates)

12-14 Good
Industry experience and reasonably good answers. They should generally be able to handle NWC.

9-11 Acceptable
Not enough experience or background to excel but would be okay should spaces be available.

6-8 Borderline
Experience, background or application answers suggest they would endure many difficulties if chosen.

0-5 Unready
Experience and background irrelevant.

We automatically accepted any candidate with two or more “extraordinary” scores (18-20 points each), three “excellent” scores (15-17 points each) or an “excellent” average (a total of 45 points or more from the three judges). There were 42 candidates who qualified under this criteria.

The 18 remaining candidates were chosen primarily on score. Where scores were close or, in a few cases, where the score of one judge widely diverged from the other two, I conferred with Professor Ma Huiqin, who also participated in the selection NWC process in 2012 and who consults for the Ningxia government.

Of the 60 finalists, 48 ultimately arrived in Yinchuan to participate in the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge:

Pablo Laborde, Argentina

Mariana Páez, Argentina

Juan Pina, Argentina

Cesar Gastón Sepúlveda, Argentina

Mike Gadd, Australia

Paul Gobell, Australia

Tony Kallaske, Australia

Mathew Kirby, Australia

Joanna Marsh, Australia

Stephen McEwen, Australia

Kelly Pearson, Australia

Chris Sargeant, Australia

Mathias Regner, Austria

Alexander Velianov, Bulgaria

Jose Hernández, Chile

Jacqueline Lizama, Chile

Maria Tapia, Chile

Pierre Viala, France

Priyanka Kulkarni, India

Parikshit Teldhune, India

Denise Cosentino, Italy

Alessio Fortunato, Italy

Gianpaolo Paglia, Italy

Mauricio Ruiz Cantu, Mexico

Leonardo Ricardez, Mexico

Vadim Burunsus, Moldova

Peter Bristow, New Zealand

Jennifer Bound, New Zealand

Glenn James, New Zealand / Australia

Peter Mackey, New Zealand

Andrew Powley, New Zealand

Steve Simpson, New Zealand

Spring Timlin, New Zealand

Joel Santos, Portugal

Justin Corrans, South Africa

Alwyn Liebenberg, South Africa

Carsten Migliarina, South Africa

Elena Alejos, Spain

Ana Pecero, Spain

Ruben Rodriguez, Spain/Australia

Slavina Stefanova, Sweden

Stuart Rusted, UK

Matthew van der Spuy, UK

Sarah Williams, UK

Nova Cadamatre, United States

Chris Chang, United States

Brian Cheeseborough, United States

Brent Trela, United States

The competition for the 60 positions was strong in terms of the quantity and quality of the candidates. It’s fair to say that dozens of intriguing applicants just missed the cut and will hopefully be involved in future Ningxia projects.

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