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Winemaking through the generations - The importance of family values

Winemaking is a craft often passed on from generation to generation all around the world, and even in Australia where the art of winemaking is relatively young in comparison, there’s history in the making and common business values at play.

Some families span countries bringing cultural additions to their offering, others span entire operations since their inception with several generations working from the vineyard to winemaking, sales and marketing, and others it’s truly a culture where being born into the family means you’ll work in the family business. But what’s common to all these three Hunter Valley families we caught up with, each with their own family values and traditions, is the shared passion for what they do and for the family values they treasure.

When thinking of a name synonymous with family values in the Hunter Valley you really can’t go past the Tyrrell family, spanning five generations (with the sixth in understudy positions as we speak), this 160-year-old truly family operation established by Edward Tyrrell in 1858 when he arrived from England and was awarded an allotment of what became a prime Hunter Valley vineyard site.

Ask Chris Tyrrell, fifth generation winemaker, and he will tell you that while his generation which includes sister Jane and brother John who all work in the family business, are all aware of and have a deep respect for the foundations put in place by their forefathers, they are a generation always looking to the future.


When we asked him what he believed makes Tyrrell’s what it is today, he quickly replied “we’re not chasing market trends, we stick with what we believe in.”

A view shared by their fourth-generation winemaker father Bruce Tyrrell whose advice in respect to their family business is to “keep one eye on the past and one on the future, but keep on course”.

With uncannily similar family values to the historic Tyrrell family, Scarborough believe that probably the most important value they live by as a business is staying true to their roots and not be swayed by trends. 

And when it comes to pitching in, everyone is involved. Day to day there’s no better example of a family operation than Scarborough, with Ian and Merrelea at the helm, Jerome as winemaker, his viticulturist wife Liz Riley, and of course Sally who drives the sales & marketing function. When we asked Sally how important family to the success of the Scarborough brand is, it was short and sweet “It is absolutely everything.”


“We also believe that if you are a family business you really have to remain the face of the brand that can be seen and interacted with, particularly at cellar door and events, and this is a value that we all as a family share in. It goes hand in hand with our customer centric approach, and everything we do at Scarborough Wine Company is based on the customer experience. From the original cellar door tasting format, wine styles, events or even welcoming people into our family home, these ideals together with hard work are at the forefront of our family values.”

The same could be said about De Iuliis Wines where a dream of owning vineyards was only made a reality through hard work instilled by family values. Three generations of De Iuliis spent long days together as a family planting a 20 hectare property on Lovedale Road to grapevines in 1987.


Fuelled with Italian passion and a love of wine learned from their hometown in Pescara where four generations had travelled across the mountains of Abruzzi to fill barrels of must with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and return to the village on horseback to share the wine with the community. 

Todays De Iuliis custodian Mike De Iuliis, also recognises family and cultural traditions but prefers to pay homage to his roots through innovation, bringing plantings of Pecorino and Montepuliciano grape vines to their family vineyards and were the first to do so, now producing wines from both these Italian varieties.

Mike and Joss together have built a family wine business that in typical Italian fashion brings the team together like an extended family, and many have worked with De Iuliis for the 20 years that they have been operating in the Hunter Valley. Mike is an advocate for a strong team culture where everyone shares ideas, has input into the business, pushes the boundaries of innovation and all in all, share in a common belief that hard work, determination, and a bit of cheekiness will get you far.  

It seems that shared family values extend not only across the Hunter Valley, but the world. 




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