It is with much regret and sadness that I report Richard Riddiford of Martinborough passed away last night after a brief illness.
Richard is well known as the founding managing director of Palliser Estate, one of Martinborough’s largest wine producers, and as a scion of the Riddiford dynasty of the Wairarapa. His work played a significant role in putting the district on the world wine map. Richard was not only an avid supporter and promoter of Palliser Estate, but also the Martinborough wine growing region, and New Zealand wine in general. His drive and enthusiasm ensured Palliser Estate’s success from the planning and planting stages in the mid-1980s.
He also was at the heart of establishing the extremely successful ‘Toast Martinborough’ festival, and chaired the Pinot Noir 2001 and Pinot Noir 2004 conferences, as well as being a force behind the ‘Family of 12’ export marketing group. His contribution to the New Zealand wine scene was recognised by being appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 1999 Queen’s Birthday honours, and being inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame in 2010. Richard retired last year, handing over his Palliser Estate CEO role to Pip Goodwin.
Richard was a personal inspiration for me. His presence endeared respect and admiration tinged with a little fear, such was his authority. When he ‘asked’ that I take the role of Wine Director at Pinot Noir 2001 to be responsible for all the wine and tasting logistics, it was a suggestion I ‘should not and could not refuse’. In retrospect, I thanked him for the opportunity as the role brought me closer than ever to the wine industry. Since then, I’ve known that Richard was always very supportive of my work in wine. Richard certainly had a gruff exterior, but I know that he was as warm-hearted as anybody could ever be.
Wairarapa journalist Karl du Fresne wrote an excellent in-depth article on Richard published in September last year for ‘The Listener’ magazine. It can be read on-line at http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/profile/the-pinot-pioneer/
It will be a very sad time at Palliser Estate and in the Wairarapa. I offer my condolences to his family, friends and work colleagues. Farewell. Richard.
A service for Richard will be held at Palliser Estate Wines, Kitchener Street, Martinborough at 12.30 pm on Wednesday 3 August.