Paul Symington: “Rescuing Wine Families from Money and MNCs”

Paul Symington:

Bolgheri. Climate warming, soil regeneration, but also generational handover and survival of family business, holding the flag of independence. These are the challenges of the future for wine families. This was underlined by the representation of one of the longest-lived and most prestigious in the world: Paul Symington The group of the same name, synonymous with 5 generations of Portuguese wines (since 1882), has Porto Lead, but roots that delve even deeper into the Portuguese wine trade, dating back to 1652, trace the lineage of the maternal branch. 14 generations.

family, When it comes to wine, it is not just a symbol of historicity and tradition. It is something that goes beyond time, which speaks of values, passions, willingness to pass on to children, grandchildren, etc. their experience in a virtuous circle of love for land and identity. It was with this spirit that it was born in 1991. primem family wine, an association of twelve world-class wine producers, headed by Symington. “Our mission – say a Taste Maker – to combine quality, sustainability, but above all family heritage and innovation to encourage other family businesses to remain independent.

A world, of wine families, whose roots are firmly in the past, but which looks firmly to the challenges of the future, unwilling to buy property, at least to resist the enticing sirens of money and multinationals However, beyond the strictly economic aspect, he has a background that is invaluable. Bolgheri in recent weeks San Guido Estate Incisa della Rochetta family, Temple of Sassicia, Taste He attended one of two meetings in a year that twelve members of the Primum family Vini keep contacts firmly in place. made up of union Marchesi Antinori (Tuscany), Baron Philip de Rothschild (Bordeaux), Joseph Drouhin (Burgundy and Oregon), Domaine Clarence Dillon (Bordeaux), Egon Muller Sharzoff (Mosel), family hugel (Alsace), pole roger (champagne), family perrin (Rhone Valley), Symington Family Estates (Portugal), Tenuta San Guido (Tuscany), Family Torres (Spain) E vega sicily (Ribera del Duero).

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First Family Vinnie Group

The meeting was the occasion to interview Symington, President of the Association (then succeeded by landlady Priscilla Inisa della Rochetta at a meeting in Bolgheri), whose British-born family today manages a large estate Douro Valley, For a total of 2,255 hectares, of which 1,024 hectares are vineyards: the remainder is natural Mediterranean shrubland with some olive groves and citrus trees.

& nbsp;  Priscilla Inisa della Rochetta at her family business Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheri

Priscilla Inisa della Rochetta at her family business Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheric

What is the goal of the Primum Family Vini (PFV) Association?

“This year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the group that brings together the most important European wine families, from Italy to Spain, from France to Portugal: our starting point is to be independent. When the association was born, the distribution of wines and There were also interests such as marketing, but today our main objective is to survive, and give a future to our background. Many of us have centuries-old histories behind them: Antinori is over 600 years old, my family dates back to the 17th century ( In 1891 Andrew James Symington, of Scottish descent, married Beatrice Atkinson, whose family was closely associated with the port. Trade for generations, from the mid-seventeenth century, ed.). Many think we are “ancient” , but it is not so. The idea behind the birth of PFV is to live together, share experiences, create projects: we are a very strong group, made up of many people. Today at lunch I was next to a German producer Was sitting: It was wonderful, we talked about vineyards, sustainability, markets. And we did it with excellent wines and good food. We all have a strong desire to protect the family business. However, today it is not very easy as we are under a lot of pressure from taxes to cost of production. Today a vineyard in Burgundy costs at least 3 million per hectare. If you have a family that makes wine, it’s imperative to consider its value. And you ask yourself what suits you to sell or continue the tradition, involving young people”.

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You said wine families are not “dinosaurs”. What is the most important challenge to face?

“For families this is the generational transition, not everyone can be the leader of the future, it is necessary to encourage new generations: they have to work very hard, guaranteeing high value for the business. Sometimes this can be a problem. But I think most kids in the world of wine families want to try something new. We have young kids in this meeting with us too: it’s great that from an early age the managers of tomorrow enter the perspective of the business of the future. and share it with other European groups”.

Sometimes the management in the basement does not reach the second generation, some parents find it difficult to “leave” their children to leave the company?

“It’s hard to get kids involved: many of them turn around for study, then there’s the burning issue of pollution, a hindrance that will affect their future. And then yes, it’s true, when parents are very famous. It can be a problem to deal with generational change. That is precisely why our PFV association is so important, not just for the money which is certainly a fundamental burden for survival. But what really makes a difference is they Values ​​are what underpin a family business. However, you have to make sure that these values ​​are communicated well, the children are passionate. My family came to northern Portugal from Scotland centuries ago, I wish my kids would share it Never forget because history is the foundation of the future. Many people believe that the PFV is the old guard, it is not: we are the new guard. And we demonstrate this by fighting every day to stand firm in our places: those of us Each can sell and make a lot of money, but in thirty years only three producers have given up. In Bolgheri there are companies such as Pol Roger, Tenuta San Guido and Antinori, today we talked about a joint project on distribution: because it is nice and fun to be together, but join forces to promote business It is also important to be a new generation”.

& nbsp;  Paul Symington

Many troubled properties are sold to MNCs and international funds, how do you protect yourself from this incident?

“It’s a great topic, I agree: it’s hard to resist the temptation to sell when groups with large financial resources come together. But we have to go together every year, tasting, planning, from New York to Berlin to Milan.” Traveling, together. It’s hard to turn down a lucrative offer, but we’re not romantic, we want to be successful. I could have been rich and lived in Montecarlo, but that’s not what I want, I’d prefer to have a family business And the best way to compete in markets is to be there: Getting to know the people who make wine is a great business card, getting people interested not in technical things, but in the people who make the wine.”

What do you understand by wine tourism?

“It’s a good way to make money in the future, it wasn’t possible in the days of my father’s generation, but now it’s different: wineries offer good restaurants, projects, outdoors and so on.”

Sustainability and global warming, what should we expect from the future? What is the role of the wine world?

“Climate change is a challenge for everyone, which is a big factor to consider. Grapes are very sensitive to temperature, extreme heat can cause damage. I sincerely hope there is a solution, this is a serious problem At the PFV Association, the family of Miguel Torres has been at the forefront of fighting pollution with soil regeneration projects for years. We joined them, and we invited other manufacturers to do the same. Target Reducing Carbon Footprint A lot of people chat and do green washing. But we have to be serious if we want to save the vineyard.”

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The success of white and bubbles is growing faster than red, why? what does this mean?

“I think the phases are the trends: now bubbles are so trendy because they’re easy, fun, people want to celebrate…. Another trend that has been on the rise for years, but now its popularity. What really matters for all products, whether red or white, is quality: if they are made well, in specific localities and with a strong identity, they are sure to succeed. will be”.


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