Beyond Brunch: The Realities of Mother-Daughter Winemaking Teams | Wine Enthusiast
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Beyond Brunch: The Realities of Mother-Daughter Winemaking Teams

Kim and Margo Longbottom, the mother-daughter winemaking team at Australia’s Vintage Longbottom, are planning a Champagne brunch for Mother’s Day.

“There’s a great little restaurant that we frequent with a plant nursery attached out back,” says Kim.

Margo is looking forward to it. “Their philosophy is whatever they don’t grow, they source locally,” she says. “Mum and I are big fans of supporting local businesses.”

On Mother’s Day, many people will spiritually or physically raise a glass to the matriarchs and maternal figures in their lives. How, though, do multigenerational winemaking families handle collaborations all other days of the year? Are there challenges to working alongside your parent or child in the cellar, vineyard or CEO’s office?

Margo and Kim Longbottom
Margo and Kim Longbottom / Photo by Matt Wenk

Kim and Margo believe their closeness is an asset.

“It strengthens our business,” says Kim of their relationship. “We make sure we both stick to roles where we add the most value.”

Margo agrees. “We both find that we benefit from using each other as a sounding board, getting another perspective is integral to our growth,” she says.

Are there challenges to working alongside your parent or child in the cellar, vineyard or CEO’s office?

Growing up in the Padthaway region of South Australia, Margo spent a lot of time in the vineyards. Kim and her late husband, Mark Longbottom, released the first wine from their label Henry’s Road in 1998, the year Margo was born.

Kim and Margo launched Vintage Longbottom in 2018. They produce classic South Australian style wines from McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills.

Their relationship is useful from a marketing perspective, too.

“Being a mother-daughter business gives us a unique story to tell,” says Kim.

Christine and Christina Netzl
Christina and Christine Netzl / Courtesy Weingut Netzl

Austria’s Netzl winery also began as a husband-and-wife operation. In the 1980s, Franz & Christine Netzl took over a farm in Austria’s Carnuntum region. In 2007, Franz and Christine’s daughter, Christina, finished her studies in oenology and wine management in London and joined her parents at the winery.

Sustainable farming was already a part of Netzl’s mission, but it was Christina’s influence that led to organic farming.

Christina has embraced some of the challenges of working with family.

“Each generation has its own opinion, and it is our job to bring them together and keep everybody happy,” she says.

Working with family has its benefits, too.

“It is easier to work with people you’ve known all of your life,” says Christina. “You don’t have to explain certain things and ideas, because we understand each other’s minds.”

This year, the family’s Mother’s Day celebration will be multigenerational.

“We are celebrating Mother’s Day with all of the mothers in our family together: my grandmothers, my mother, my mother-in-law and, of course, my daughters,” says Christina.

Gabriella and Jose Rallo
Gabriella and Josè Rallo / Photo via Donnafugata by Beatrice Pilotto

Josè Rallo, CEO of Sicily’s Donnafugata wines, also hopes to bring her extended family together for Mother’s Day.

Her parents, Giacomo & Gabriella Rallo, founded Donnafugata wines in 1983. Gabriella is a founding member of the Associazione Nazionale Donne del Vino (National Association of Wine Women).

“Working together with my mother Gabriella has always been very inspiring for me,” says Josè. “To see her so resourceful, dynamic and determined, it’s motivation to go ahead and give the best of me.

“We do not always agree on everything, but I certainly recognize her great intuition and ability in both vineyard and design of our labels,” she says.

Gabriella is honored to have her daughter helm Donnafugata.

“I am proud and thankful to see that the values of equal opportunities continue through the passionate work of my daughter in the family business,” she says.

For Mother’s Day, Gabrielle and Josè plan to have traditional Sicilian dishes for lunch.

“If possible, a third generation may join us on this occasion: my daughter, Gabriella, who bears the name of my mother,” says Josè. “The wine for that special occasion will be a Cerasuolo from Vittoria, Floramundi, fruity and very soft. The perfect wine for us.”

Nomen winemakers
Moira, Roisin, Angelica, Me-Z, Brigid O’Reilly / Courtesy of Distaff

In Oregon, Angelica O’Reilly launched Nomen wine with her three eldest daughters: Brigid, Moira and Me-Z. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because O’Reilly and her husband, David, are the founders of Owen Roe Wines.

To celebrate the women in the wine industry and in her family, Angelica created Distaff Wine Company in 2019. Nomen is its first project.

The name, Nomen, is more than a fun play on words. It’s also Latin for “surname.”

Brigid believes her family’s dynamic makes for a “more fun and creative environment” than other wineries. “We already know each other so well and are aware of each other’s strengths that we are able to encourage each other and work towards the same goal more effectively,” she says.

“One of our goals with our company is to highlight and support other women, and we will be doing just that on Mother’s Day,” says Brigid.

The O’Reilly women plan a special outdoor event for mothers and their families with live music, a brunch food truck and, of course, wine.

“Our mom will be relaxing at her own table with a glass of rosé, and we have plans to finish off the day with a family dinner for her,” says Brigid.

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