When you think of winemaking teams, the first things that probably come to mind are a loving, united family that shares a passion for the craft—one that has passed down the winemaking tradition from generation to generation for hundreds of years. While the image of a mother-daughter team might conjure up images of a romanticized past, winemaking today is a far cry from the European vineyards of yesteryear.
Like seemingly every other twentysomething woman in the country, Sarah and I are a mother-daughter team. But while most of our peers are applying to grad school and internships, we’re getting ready for the crush of harvest season. Ever since Sarah was a toddler, her mom and I have been making wine in the Napa Valley. We’re a rare breed: mothers and daughters working together on a commercial vineyard. We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make a successful wine under the same roof. (Click through to read the rest of the article.)
Kim and Margot Longbottom, mother and daughter winemakers at Vintage Longbottom in Australia, are planning a champagne brunch for Mother’s Day.
There’s a great little restaurant there that we frequent, with a nursery in the backyard, Kim says.
Margot is looking forward to it. Their philosophy is that anything they don’t grow themselves, they buy locally, she says. My mom and I are big fans of supporting local businesses.
On Mother’s Day, many people mentally or physically raise a glass to the matriarchs and mother figures in their lives. But how do multi-generational winemaking families manage to work together on other days of the year? Is it difficult to work alongside a parent or child in the cellar, vineyard or manager’s office?
Margo and Kim Longbottom / Photo: Matt Wenk
Kim and Margot see their proximity as an advantage.
It strengthens our business, Kim says of their relationship. We made sure we both stuck to the roles in which we were most valuable.
Margo agrees. We both find it helpful to use each other as sounding boards; getting a different perspective is an essential part of our growth, she says.
Is it difficult to work alongside a parent or child in the cellar, vineyard or manager’s office?
Growing up in the Padthaway region of South Australia, Margot spent a lot of time in the vineyards. Kim and her late husband, Mark Longbottom, released their first Henry’s Road wine in 1998, the year Margot was born.
Kim and Margot launched Vintage Longbottom in 2018. They produce classic South Australian style wines in the McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills regions.
Their relationship is also useful from a marketing perspective.
As a parent-subsidiary company, we have a unique story to tell, says Kim.
Christine and Christina Netzl / Courtesy of Weingut Netzl
Austrian wine house Netzl has also started a collaboration between husband and wife. In the 1980s, Franz and Christina Netzl became owners of a farm in the Carnuntum region of Austria. In 2007, Franz and Christina’s daughter completed her studies in oenology and viticulture in London and joined her parents’ winery.
Sustainable agriculture was already part of Netzl’s mission, but it was Christina’s influence that led to organic farming.
Christine has taken on the challenges of working with her family.
Each generation has its own opinion, and it’s our job to bring them together and make everyone happy, she says.
Working with family also has its advantages.
It’s easier to work with people you’ve known your whole life, Christina says. Some things and ideas don’t need to be explained because we understand the other person’s mindset.
This year’s Mother’s Day celebration will be a multi-generational family celebration.
We celebrate Mother’s Day with all the mothers in our family together: my grandmothers, my mother-in-law and of course my daughters, Christina says.
Gabriella and Jose Rallo / Photo via Donnafugata by Beatrice Pilotto
Jose Rallo, CEO of Sicilian wine company Donnafugata, also hopes to reunite his extended family for Mother’s Day.
His parents, Giacomo and Gabriella Rallo, founded the winery Donnafugata in 1983. Gabriella is a founding member of the National Association of Women Winemakers (Associazione Nazionale Donne del Vino).
Working with my mother Gabriella has always inspired me, Jose says. To see how resourceful, dynamic and determined she is is a motivation to continue and do her best.
We don’t always agree, but I certainly acknowledge her great intuition and skill, both in the vineyard and in designing our labels, she says.
Gabriella is honored that her daughter is leading the Donnafugata.
I am proud and grateful that the values of equal opportunity continue to live on through my daughter’s passionate work in the family business, she says.
For Mother’s Day, Gabrielle and José planned a traditional Sicilian dish for lunch.
If it is possible, the third generation will join us: my daughter Gabriella, who bears my mother’s name, says José. The wine for such a special occasion would be Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Floramundi, fruity and very sweet. The perfect wine for us.
Moira, Roisin, Angelica, Me-Z, Bridget O’Reilly / Courtesy of Distaff
In Oregon, Angelica O’Reilly founded Nomen Winery with her three oldest daughters: Brigid, Moira, and Me-Z. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because O’Reilly and her husband David are the founders of Owen Roe Wines.
To celebrate women in the wine industry and in her family, Angelica founded Distaff Wine Company in 2019. Noun is his first project.
The name Nomen is not just a funny pun. It is also a Latin word meaning family name.
Brigid feels that their family dynamic makes for a more fun and creative atmosphere than at other wineries. We already know each other so well and are aware of each other’s strengths that we can encourage each other and work more effectively towards the same goal, she says.
One of our goals is to highlight and support other women, and we do that on Mother’s Day, says Brigid.
The women of O’Reilly are hosting a special outdoor event for moms and their families, complete with live music, a brunch food truck and, of course, wine.
Our mother will relax at her own table with a glass of rosé, and we plan to end the day with a family dinner for her, says Brigid.
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