When it comes to making wine, the old adage that ‘blood is thicker than water' has been proved correct. In blind tastings of 14,120 wines during this year's Decanter World Wine Awards, a solid 71% came from family-owned wineries.
Sarah Kemp, Director of Publishing for Decanter Magazine explains : "There's a joke that ‘90% of families are dysfunctional-and the other 10% are in denial' which is why I am astonished and awed by how the wine world is still, at the top end, a family affair."
However Sarah dismisses the idea that the best wines can only originate from family-owned wineries: "Co-operatives and corporation-owned wineries have injected enormous energy to the wine-world and can also produce wines of great quality."
One of the surprises from the DWWA 2012 was that the family owned wineries were not just from Europe, winners came from New Zealand, South Africa and even China.
Gustavo Bauzá, the owner of Bodegas Salentein in Mendoza, Argentina, was this year's winner of the ‘Single-Varietal Red Under GBP10' Trophy for his Potillo Malbec 2011. "Some of my earliest memories are of playing in the vineyards," says Gustavo, "I was learning about wine and winemaking even as a child. I know our estate in great detail, every block, and every row of vines. I'm not a roving winemaker, travelling from job to job on different estates - this is where I will always make my wine. Gustavo, who has achieved many formal qualifications in winemaking including an MBA, is adamant that it is his attention to detail that is the difference between a good wine and a great one.
In many of the wineries the production methods remain traditional but younger generations deliver fresh thinking about how to ensure the vineyards are sustainable and environmentally sound whilst continuing to be profitable. After all, it takes 30 years before a vine gives its highest quality fruit. You don't plant them for yourself: you plant them for your children.
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Throughout the rigorous judging process each wine is tasted by a dedicated panel. Every single wine is discussed by the panel in depth before a verdict is recorded.
Further information can be found at http://www.decanter.com/dwwa