While many have dreamed of turning their love of wine into a living, few are really cut out for the challenges that viticulture and winemaking present. From the vagaries of the weather to the financial challenges and personal losses, it takes a special strength of character to survive and thrive in the Australian wine industry.

 

RESOLVE TO SUCCEED

 

Eliza Brown of Rutherglen’s All Saints Estate also knows first hand how personal loss can shape your future. In 2005, her father Peter – head of their family’s winery – was killed in a road accident, leaving not only a gaping hole in their lives, but also no succession plan.

Rather than sell or bring in a manager, Eliza, her brother Nick and sister Angela decided to step up to the plate and today Eliza is CEO, Nick is General Manager and Angela is Sales and Marketing Director.

But the road was by no means smooth, she explains. “We had many challenges after our father passed away. He had created several businesses, and some of these were handshake deals. We had to work through each business and understand if it was contributing to the overall strategy and if it didn’t, we had to close it down or sell it. This was a challenging thing to do when it involved staff; nothing can teach you how to do this.”

While he might not have left them with a plan, Peter had gifted his children a great life lesson in resilience.

“My mother and father worked very hard building the Brown Brothers business with my uncle and aunts,” Eliza describes, “so that was something from a very early age we watched. Not everything went to plan; there were always obstacles in agriculture and family business, and my family moved through them with determination.”

Her father, she feels, “Would be very proud of how far we have come with the business and our working relationships. Also, he would be particularly angry with me because in the early days I sold his bulldozer and his pile of scrap metal to pay some bills!”

 

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