The next wine vintage starts when vines sprout their first buds in the next few weeks and for one family it will mark the beginning of their 40th vintage; the Seifried family planted their first vineyard in 1973 with the first wines being produced in 1976.
There are very few family businesses that can equal the dedication to one industry, some come very close but Herman and Agnes Seifried were the pioneers of the modern winemaking industry in this region. Forty years later their children Chris, Heidi and Anna all play an integral role in the business while Herman and Agnes simply don’t know what the word retirement means.
One thing that is certain in any business is that things will change and being able to adapt to the challenges, new techniques, technology and trends is a vital component in the Seifried success story.
Heidi Seifried told me they “are always striving to up the game, take on new challenges and are constantly questioning what they do, is it the right thing, how can we make it better, nothing stands still.”
In the family they don’t have job descriptions, they just use the varied skills they have to do whatever needs doing. Heidi says that Herman still loves the business, is always out looking at and overseeing vineyards and has instilled a huge work ethic and can-do-attitude into the business. We call some of the solutions Hermanisms, just doing what needs to be done even if it means thinking outside the square to come up with a solution to something.” She says “this comes from the necessity to be self-sufficient in the 70’s because in a new business there just wasn’t the money to pay others to do things, Herman and Agnes needed to think outside the square and do it themselves and this attitude continues today.”
Obviously in a business as large as Seifried Estate there are many staff but all family members can step in to any role if they need to. Both Chris and Heidi are qualified winemakers and Anna has degrees in Wine Marketing, spending much of the year visiting buyers in overseas markets. When their winemaker left just before Christmas Chris stepped in to spend more time in the winery.
The investment in growing the business for the 3rd generation (Chris and Heidi each have three children with their respective partners) also continues; new vineyards are being planted, the winery facility was expanded a few years ago and they have recently purchased a new ultra-modern filter that will improve the quality of wines coming from the winery.
Volumes of wine being produced and exported is huge, Seifrieds is a large winery moving large volumes of wine into export markets as well as meeting the New Zealand demand for their wines. The bottling line runs almost non-stop at this time of the year as wine is bottled for the summer trading period.
What is most impressive is that as they have expanded the business the quality of wines produced has remained consistently high, and buyers in overseas markets love the fact they can rely on the quality year-after-year.
The 2015 vintage wines have already won 5 gold medals, one for each level of Sauvignon Blanc (Old Coach Road, Seifried Nelson and Aotea which is their export label for the Winemaker’s Collection label we see on shelves here) and two for the Sweet Agnes Riesling dessert wine.
Most importantly the three gold medals for the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc were won in Germany which is a market that is growing significantly for Seifrieds.
Heidi is the winemaker in charge of producing Sweet Agnes and is understandably proud of the two gold medals it has won this year, one each at the Berliner Wein Trophy Awards in Germany and the Spiegelau International wine Competition in New Zealand, the same show they won a gold medal for their 2014 Nelson Chardonnay.
Seifried Estate may be the biggest winery in the region but as they celebrate the beginning of their 40th vintage they continue to invest in their business making sure quality is maintained while ensuring the business has a sound future in this very dynamic industry.
Check out my tasting notes for the latest release of Seifried Estate wines at neilhodgson.nz