Sunday, 24 January 2016 16:20

The extended family – of 12

Written by  Tessa Nicholson
The original Family of 12. The original Family of 12.

Keeping everyone happy in a big family isn't always the easiest task.

Inter sibling rivalry, weird hangers on, in laws that don't get on and children who no one can stand being around – are just a few of the problems to mar family occasions.

That is unless you are a Family of 12 wineries, who not only get on, but are also totally supportive of each other.

Chairman William Hoare admits that in this family, there are certain characters who could be described as the wacky Aunty or Uncle that ensures the dinner table isn't boring. And there are plenty of personalities with a lifetime of experience that provides all members with an innate sense of where they are going and how they might get there.

After 10 years the family is now looking to the future and F12 is about to become an extended family. Not in terms of the number of wineries involved – it began as 12 and Hoare says it will stay at 12. But the time has come to introduce the next generation, so they can begin to form bonds with their cousins as well as their aunts and uncles.

"There is this generational shift that is happening in all fields within New Zealand," Hoare says, "and especially in the wine industry. One of the key components of the Family of 12 is that the person sitting at the table has to be representative of the winery. So with Villa (Maria) it is Sir George sitting there. With Palliser Estate it has always been Richard Riddiford, and so on. We need this to continue on in the future, so we decided that it was time to bring the next generation in, those that are going to grow up and run the winery."

A special luncheon, introducing the "next generation" was held at Merediths Restaurant in Auckland in November. It was a chance for the newbies to get to know each other.

Hoare says it is important as in any business, that the knowledge that is already floating around out there, is passed on to the next wave of managers. And given the Family has more than 240 years of combined knowledge of the world of wine, there is a lot of material to pass on.

"It's no good holding all this information within a small group. The next generation, while they may not be running the business at this stage, are likely to be doing so in the future. We want to nurture those people."

Three original family members (Steve Smith MW, Richard Riddiford and Barbara Lawson) are either leaving the country or retiring, meaning the next generation is already moving into new roles within the group.

"We have always been really close as a group," Hoare says. "Now it is time to set up a base where the next generation starts talking to each other and form a similar bond to ours."

F12 has also discussed with Icehouse about getting two or three of the next generation onto leadership courses, to assist with personal development.

"We really want to nurture leadership with that next generation coming on."

The Family of 12 is unique in that it includes wineries representing every major wine growing region in New Zealand, who between them produce every major variety. Each of the 12 wineries are either family owned and run, or run as a family business.


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