A WINE connoisseur has won the trip of a lifetime to work on a vineyard Down Under.
Hugh McCullough, 22, was one of only eight people in the UK to win a competition for their dream work placement.
He secured a place on a month-long mentorship programme at family-owned winery Yalumba, in Barossa, South Australia.
The student discovered his love for grapes while working as a waiter at Oxford’s Cherwell Boathouse.
Mr McCullough, who is from Botley, said: “I started as a waiter there in 2010 and then moved to helping Brece Guibert with the wine service.
“I’ve been interested in wine since my first year at university. I got interested through my work in restaurants and that has helped me with a whole range of different things. Riesling is my favourite.
“I would like to go into wine making. This project could be a springboard and hopefully I can get out to New Zealand or Australia to do a harvest picking season and take it from there.”
He is one month away from graduating from the Modern History course at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and says he can’t wait to fulfil his dream of working in the wine industry properly.
Mr McCullough said: “I applied in March on the night before the entries closed and I had just handed in my last piece of coursework when I got the call.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it and I’ve been looking to work in the wine industry for a while.
“I’ve been looking at different ways to get out and see the practical side of things. I’ve been looking to go to New Zealand and Australia.”
Mr McCullough joined his university’s wine tasting team in his first year at St Andrews. The team enters three competitions each year – including a hotly-contested varsity match against Scottish rivals at Edinburgh University.
He was also in the team that entered the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, a competition hosted by Paris wine-tasting club Commanderie du Bontemps.
Backed by the Government of South Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission and STA Travel, Mr McCullough is one of eight winners of this year’s Mentor Me competition which sees students have mentorships in the fields of tourism and hospitality, food and wine, events and entertainment.
He said: “I will be working in as many different aspects of the business as possible. They are one of the largest wineries out there.
“They do have a pretty big sales and distribution team. I will get to see the business side as well as the technical side.”
Mr McCullough submitted a written application to win a place on the Mentor Me programme, which includes flights, four weeks’ accommodation and work experience.
He will leave for his placement in September, saying goodbye to his father Peter, the Head of English at Lincoln College, mother Jennifer Lewis and sister, Eleanor, 19.