Pleased to bring you this article from Stuff.co.nz about our wonderful Rylee:

Marlborough lab technician and cellar hand Rylee Funk is the first person to graduate with a national qualification designed to upskill workers in the Kiwi wine industry. 24-year-old Funk worked at Lawson’s Dry Hills in Blenheim and recently completed the New Zealand Certificate in Cellar Operations Level 3, a qualification designed by Competenz to form a career pathway for cellar staff. Originally from Canada, Funk was travelling New Zealand when she landed a temporary job at Lawson’s during the harvest. A few harvests later with some travel in between, she took up a permanent position in the winery.

How did you decide to get into the wine industry?
I worked my first harvest at Lawson’s Dry Hills in 2015 then I came back 2016 and never left! So it was all bit accidental – I never thought I’d end up in the wine industry!

What is your favourite aspect of working in a winery?
Tank cleaning and bottling. Just kidding. Tasting and harvest.

What motivated you to go after the qualification? What is the value of it to you?
Seemed a pretty easy option to learn on the job and turned out to really further my knowledge particularly around H&S and compliance.

Do you have a favourite wine or a wine pairing?
Burleigh Pork Belly Pie with the Lawson’s Pioneer Gewurztraminer! Or a good Chardonnay.

What was the most difficult part of the studies?
As a Canadian learning about New Zealand’s wine history, it was all new to me!

Will you continue studying cellar operations, or are you aiming for a winemaker role?
I’m certainly thinking about Level 4 but I’m also looking at other study options.

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