Canadian Paper Explores Legacies of Family-Owned Vineyards


There’s nothing like a vineyard owned by generations of the same family; or is there?
The Globe and Mail wine reporter Beppi Crosariol tackled the theory this past week as some of Europe’s greatest wine families met in Toronto for an upper-crust wine tasting. 
“Do families make better wines? It’s a romantic notion and one that mom and pop producers -- many of whom like to peddle the notion that  they’re in a David-and-Goliath battle with Grape Giants shilling nothing but plonk -- would like us to swallow,” Crosariol wrote. “I can’t count the number of labels out there tooting their ‘family wine estate’ status. But hold on. What’s special about that?”
Crosariol rejected the David-and-Goliath argument, saying “wine remains a remarkably decentralized business.”
What makes families such good winemakers, he said, is that they have generations invested in their endeavors. 
“Families are usually in the game for the long haul, willing to put in a lifetime of hard work to hand down a legacy to their children and to live the pastoral dream,” he said. “In wine, such patience is critical.”
The timeline of starting a vineyard is enough proof to show patience is a necessity, Crosariol said.
“You plant a vineyard … and it takes three years for vines to bear first fruit, many more to yield the sort of concentrated grapes that go into great bottles,” he said. 
University of Puget Sound Professor Emeritus Mike Veseth agreed with Crosariol’s assertion. 
“That’s one reason why family- and privately owned firms are more successful in wine than in most other industries,” Veseth said. “They are more able to think and invest for the long term.”
Crosariol compared the wine industry to the beer industry, a genre of alcoholic beverage which is much more friendly to time-conscious investors. 
Veseth weighed in on the relative ease of making beer as opposed to making wine.
“Big drinks conglomerates that have been so successful in the beer and spirits categories sometimes prove themselves poor-equipped to succeed in the wine market,” Veseth said. “One reason may be that beer’s production cycle aligns pretty well with the short-term thinking that some big corporations tend to adopt, always worrying about the next quarter’s earnings.” 
So though the wine market is teeming with family wineries who may play the (unfounded) underdog card, Crosariol said they’ll be around for a long time. 
“They always will,” he wrote. “I’ll be my family cellar on it.”

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