Following in the Wine Family’s Footsteps
These days many children decide not to follow in their parents’ footsteps and choose to learn other professions. However, the wine industry has maintained a pretty solid family base, especially when it comes to Old World wine regions like Italy and France. It’s really quite fascinating because not only are children choosing to learn the family trade for one generation, but many vineyards and wineries can boast several generations. In the past, the business and lands were passed down from fathers to sons, but in more modern times daughters have also taken up making wine or running the winery after their fathers.
4 of the Top Wine Families in the World
Ernest and Julio Gallo inherited the grape selling business from their father. When prohibition ended, they decided they had bigger dreams than just selling grapes. They also wanted to make wine, so they went to the library. Yes, the library. Sitting in the Modesto Public Library in California, these two men taught themselves how to make wine. The Gallo family has been making wines for more than 80 years now and four generations have been part of this endeavour to date. There are currently 15 members of the family working for the Sonoma, California Winery. Read about Gina Gallo in our article Top 5 Most Powerful and Influential Women of the Wine World.
This is one of the most significant wine families of McLaren Vale in Australia. Most people don’t recognize the name Osborn, because the name of the winery is d’Arenberg. This was a name given to the company in 1959 in honour of Helena d’Arenburg, the current owner’s mother. The d’Arenberg winery was established by Joseph Osborn in 1912 and has now passed through four generations of Osborns. Joseph and his son, Frank, set about buying vineyards to grow and sell grapes. Joseph passed away in 1921 leaving the business to his son Frank who in 1927 decided to start making wines from his grapes as well. In 1943, his health began to deteriorate and his son Francis (aka d’Arry) at the young age of 16 left school to help his father. In 1957, when Frank passed away d’Arry took control of the business and launched the new label d’Arenburg which is the current wine we know and love. Since 1984, his son Chester has been Chief Winemaker and will undoubtedly take over the business in the future.
For 26 generations, since 1385 when Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered the “Arte Fiorentina” the Winemakers’ Guild of Florence the Antinori family has been a major player in the Florentine, Italian and International wine scenes. The philosophy behind the Marchesi Antinori wines is a simultaneous preservation of ancient wine-making methods and traditions while still not being fearful of innovation. It is this spirit that motivates the current generation led by Marquis Piero Antinori and his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia. The Antinori family has been a member of the PFV – Premium Familiae Vini since its inception in 1991. This organization is like a round-table of Wine Families. Members attend an annual gathering once a year where they exchange experiences of the wine trade, gain insight into future trends and explore solutions to their business challenges. “PFV goes beyond geographical boundaries and sustains a common unifying principle: that of the ownership of vineyards and the production of wine as a family activity to maintain and refine – just like a great wine – over time”.
This family is possibly the biggest wine family in the world. Stemming from the same relative Mayer Amschel Rothschild who was a financier and money changer for the Prince of Hesse (Prince of the City of Frankfurt during the Holy Roman Empire), the family was split up to live in the major capitals of the Empire (London, Paris, Naples, Frankfurt & Vienna). In a genius move which many have since replicated Mayer Amschel sent his 5 sons to be the heads of his local bank branches rather than trusting people outside the family. This enabled all the wealth to stay in the family and beyond the reaches of those who would attempt to steal it throughout the years. His two sons Nathan Mayer Rothschild (London) and James (Jacob) Mayer de Rothschild (Paris) and their heirs would venture into the wine industry becoming owners of the famous estates of Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild. These estates remain in the family to this day. Their heirs are also responsible for branching out and purchasing wineries all over the world, so they could be at the forefront of the New World Wine Industries in Argentina, Australia, Chile, Israel, and South Africa. Today, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild continues to be run by the brother-sister team of Philippe, Camille and Julien de Rothschild while Chateau Lafite Rothschild is run by Baron Eric de Rothschild.
Now that you’ve read about these 4 wine family legacies, check out more great articles on wine families:
- Daughters of Wine Legacies: Women in the Wine Industry
- Where Does Your Wine Come From? Christophe Hedges of Hedges Family Estate Winery in Washington
- Alberta’s Family Winery — Spirit Hills Honey Winery