Tori Haysom - NZ Wine Professional of the Year 2019
Tori works as a fine wine account manager for Dhall and Nash Wines based in Auckland and previously worked at Glengarry Wines. She holds the Wine and Spirit Level 3 and studied cookery and the Professional Wine Certificate at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine.
How did you prepare for the competition? What challenges did you face?
For this competition much of my preparation came from drawing on knowledge from my WSET 1, 2 and 3 awards and on wine study that I completed at the NZ School of Food and Wine. In addition I drew upon my experience over multiple roles in the hospitality industry where I translated that same knowledge to customers of differing backgrounds and expectations. I looked over old notes to jog my memory and trusted that by working full time in the wine industry, I was already in a way always preparing for this competition.
If you are always striving to learn more about the world of wine despite a competition, you will be naturally prepared. The biggest challenge I faced was actually the signing up to the competition itself. Knowing that I am in the beginning stages of my career and putting myself in front of judges with clearly much higher levels of experience and expertise was a bit daunting. But, clearly it was worth it.
Which part of the competition was the most challenging? And why?
For me I found the sales pitch the most difficult part of the competition. First of all the curve ball, we prepared to sell the wine in general but were asked to sell the wine based on it being purchased as an investment for ageing. This meant we all had to use our knowledge and cater it to the question on the spot.
Pulling knowledge of the varietal, the ageing process of wine etc and also showcasing the story of the producer in a way that was logical and not just fact by fact was a challenge. I also found it very challenging that this was a one way sales pitch, as I am used to more of a back and forth conversation where I can gauge the interest and knowledge of who I am talking to to further personalise my pitch.
What is your next professional challenge following your award?
My current and ongoing professional challenge for the moment is to learn and discover all the brands within the portfolio that I am working with in my current position. To endeavour to become expert on these producers and the appellations that these wines come from. With over 1,000 wines on my list, this challenge will keep me busy for a while.
What advice would you give to the new candidates next year if they wish to be successful?
First of all, get to know the New Zealand Wine industry – who is who, what are the iconic wines, what is New Zealand’s wine story. Secondly, say yes to every opportunity to taste and discuss wines, particularly with people who are more knowledgeable than yourself. Thirdly, try and try again – nothing beats practice for confidence, especially when it comes to public speaking.