As a very new winegrowing country, New Zealand faces the acute issue of succession in winemaking businesses. The ‘old world’ with its history and sense of tradition living on the land for generations has not experienced this to the same degree, though the last five decades with a large proportion of populations shifting to urban centres has seen a less keen uptake of family agricultural operations. We don’t have the tie to the land here, and many vineyard and wineries don’t have anyone to continue the business.
A lesson in successful succession is the Seifried family in Nelson. Hermann and Agnes Seifried have seen their children step into their roles in the family business that they started in the early 1970s. Heidi, originally a dentist by profession, went back to university and retrained in viticulture and oenology, and now assists brother Chris who has responsibility for winemaking and running the daily operations at Seifried Estate. Other daughter Anna is the sales and marketing manager. As one can imagine, being a family business, the duties and work are interwoven, and with it comes the benefits of a unified force working in the same direction. Though Hermann and Agnes are less ‘hands-on’, they are still fully involved in the actual workings of Seifried Estate, Hermann out in the vineyards or in the workshop, and Agnes the first point of contact in exports and PR work. Anna tells me her parents are there at least five days, if not six, each week, her father being the first in the door in the morning and the last to leave at night!