Australia’s First Families of Wine
Thu, 04 September 2014
At Taylors Wine, we are proud to be part of a truly unique group of winemakers – Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW). This diverse and passionate collective of multi-generational winemakers first came together in 2009, and has been working strategically together ever since to spread the message about Australia’s rich and distinguished winemaking heritage, and the exceptional quality of our wine, to the world.
Standing up for what’s right
Part of the genesis of AFFW was that, for better or worse, Australia’s reputation on the international wine stage had copped a drubbing over a number of years. Whether or not some larger wine ‘factories’ had contributed to this, the fact remained that Australia was beginning to be seen in some arenas as a big producer of mediocre wines. The 12 families of AFFW became increasingly dismayed at the reputational damage that was taking place. With each family having worked tirelessly across decades to create excellence in winemaking, it was certainly heartbreaking to be tagged with some of the more unfortunate aspects of Australia’s wine reputation. But you don’t make it across multiple generations and many years in the one industry to go down without a fight! We knew we were steeped in history, excellence, drive and dedication across all aspects of our winemaking. And so we families banded together in 2009 to create AFFW, leading the charge to reignite the world’s love and respect for premium Australian wines.
To first principles
So why ‘First Families’? Average wines can of course be grown and produced in most parts of the world, by people and corporations with varying levels of passion. However, a core belief of AFFW participants is that a family has the unique ability to nurture, create and showcase the very best of wine craft across many decades. Working diligently and cooperatively across generations to create high-quality wines, the subtle nuances of a family’s particular winemaking skill can be passed along seamlessly from parent to child. In this way, irreplaceable reservoirs of wine knowledge are carefully preserved.
And intergenerational knowledge sharing is just one of the many special benefits stemming from multi-generational family winemaking. When wine is sourced from one or a few select regions, the family develops a deep understanding of the particular climate, geography and soil features that form the fruit basis of their wine. And we also know from experience that respect for the land bequeathed to your great-grandchildren is certainly a powerful thing! Beyond the vineyard and winery, we also know from experience that core family values and ethics create a valuable template for how a wine business should be carried out within the broader community.
The AFFW – what we share, how we differ
We’re delighted to share our heritage, winemaking stories and knowledge with the other family members of AFFW. And it’s a pretty illustrious group. Together we 12 families cover four states and over 17 Australian wine regions, from the east coast to the west coast. Add up our combined years of winemaking experience across the generations and you’d be somewhere around the 1,200-year mark! Between us all, it would probably be safe to say that we know a thing or two about developing a premium Australian wine. We share a deep respect for the past, as well as for the land on which we work. As the generations move forward, this love of the soil and desire to work sustainably continues to grow. When we meet and chat together about great loves of our life (family, the land, and winemaking excellence), the AFFW members have the opportunity to showcase and discuss the ins and outs of our growing, sourcing and production practices. Being together in a room with a dozen or more of Australia’s premium wine colleagues allows all of us to learn and share, and to stay at the edge of innovative excellence in wine craft.
Yet like any extended family, each member of AFFW has their own unique way of doing things. Strong and proud in our own individual legacies, the winemaking families maintain the integrity and signature character of their own wines. In everything we do at Taylors, our dedication to respecting the fruit enables us to capture and present the extraordinary qualities of our Clare Valley region within each bottle. Whether imbibing a delicious red from our Estate range, or looking for clever blends throughout our other selections, we’re confident that our particular way of doing things here in the Clare will sing through in every glass. Look, as we said – we’re close with our AFFW colleagues; but we’d be kidding if we didn’t admit that there’s sometimes a little whiff of competitiveness in the room at the group’s get-togethers! And we reckon that this friendly rivalry is just fine – it helps us all to keep our edge, once we’re back at the winery.
Stories for the grandkids
It’s not just Taylors and the other 11 families who feel drawn to preserve the rich and varied history of Australia’s wine culture. In watching the First Families come together in 2009, others in the community noticed and celebrated our commitment to Australian wine. Graeme Lofts for example penned the fascinating Heart and Soul in 2010, a well-researched book of tales following the lives and journeys of AFFW families. For each of the families, you can see the hard work and sometimes the heartache that can go into the creation of premium quality wines. And we believe life is all about unique stories – stories of people, challenges, places and celebrations. We’re certain that bringing together tales and expertise of Australia’s First Families of Wine allows the world to better understand and become inspired by Australia’s outstanding wine heritage.
We think that in sharing our stories, our dreams and our techniques with our family, with the broader AFFW community (and of course with you!) we’re doing our bit to foster excellence in Australian winemaking for generations to come. And we’re looking forward to sharing more as we go along.