In America’s Family-Run Wineries, the Kids Are All Right

US family owned wineries pass the baton to future generations.

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In America’s Family-Run Wineries, the Kids Are All Right

A new generation of vintners is bringing fresh ideas and innovations


America’s family-run wineries bring fresh ideas and innovation.

by L.M. Archer


It’s sunrise in Oregon’s The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, and second-generation winemaker Brooke Robertson of Delmas surveys her family site, SJR Vineyard. Draining the last of her morning coffee, Robertson tapes her hands and fingers, boxer style, and dons pruning gloves. Bud break is coming.

After running through a series of calisthenics to limber her body for the grueling work ahead, Robertson readies her pruning tools. Kneeling, she examines each vine “always thinking about what I can give the vine this year that will facilitate future advantageous positioning.”

First cut complete, she stands, walks four feet to the next vine, kneels, and repeats. Robertson will replicate this ritual 12,000 times, once for each of SJR Vineyard’s 12,000 vines. “It is what makes these vines so unique, it is what makes these wines so unique, and it is why I will likely lose all cartilage in my hands by the time I am 50,” she says.

Robertson, age 35, represents the next generation of winery owners taking over from their baby boomer parents. More educated, well-traveled, entrepreneurial, and open to new ideas, these younger makers are ushering in a wine renaissance, offering consumers new styles, approaches, and better-quality wines. And some surprising twists.

Rising generation

Dubbed the rising generation by Professor John Davis, faculty head of family enterprise at MIT Sloan School of Management, this incoming generation of new winery owners expect more influence, leadership, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The international family business authority attributes this new attitude to both changes in the world at large, as well as in family dynamics. “Since 2000, the world has sped up,” says Davis. “Change is more constant than it has ever been.” In addition, he says, “Families have become much more focused over the last few generations on helping individuals achieve the lives they want as individuals, as opposed to serving the family, even feeling responsible for the family.” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.


More articles by L.M. Archer here.

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