Days of Wines and Roses

Today’s guest blogger is Robert Hill Smith, fifth-generation proprietor of Yalumba.

Robert Hill Smith

Happy Birthday to all.

So today all Yalumbarites feel 160 years young. I am not sure I do or will, but we are going to enjoy it .
Yep, it is a significant milestone, and whilst it doesn’t guarantee you anything it feels good!

Australia’s oldest family owned winery and going OK.

My previous bloggers have all displayed [humbly] the pride they feel for Yalumba and where they work. It is a feeling shared by many, and we work hard at sustaining that pride and passion for enjoying work, doing our job well  and building a sense of team.

We have so  many stars in the wine company that I feel completely humbled and lucky to have been a positive part of a team effort that has achieved so much.
Whether they are in the vineyard, the bottling hall, the cooperage, the laboratory or IT/IS, or our brothers and sisters in the trenches trying to place our wines with a reluctant trade customer! Everyone on our team has a go because we are a can-do company.
What we could not do on Sunday was raise A$100,000+ for our favorite charities, but Steve Lindner told that story yesterday.

My favorite blogger, Jane Ferrari, is not here and nor is my Dad, who would have been 100 this year. How proud I think he would be of our progress. I think many of us dream about borrowing our family from the heavens for half a day and showing them the farm and the children and whatever. One last red and then presto all gone back to base! In chatting about this my Mother, Helen, reminded me how special it is for her as she has now seen Yalumba celebrate its 100th, 140th , 150th and now 160th. She is a star and loves Yalumba and our wines – particularly our Viognier – and recalls the days not long past when we really were a mixed farm. Mum made butter and cream for the families who lived here up until 20 years ago. She has nearly forgiven me for selling the Jersey Cows but we still have sheep, horses, gardens and a big vegie patch.
She has seen a lot of change as has Annabel, my long suffering other half. Someone said to me the other day that if you treat your business as a job you will fail but if as a love and a passion, you shall succeed. Naturally it comes with a cost and my kids remind me of that, but we are all here still smiling and I still look forward to my youngest, Georgia, having her first Shiraz with me! The others have joined their Annabel as ambassadors for Jansz and Riesling but will not help me with Bush Vine Grenache or The Signature !
So today is a big day.

I have 24 “muckers” coming to join me for a wine luncheon in Tank 11. I have always wanted to do this once our Project 160 renovation was behind us . I will unlock the Wine Museum/Den and spoil them all. They are salt of the earth type characters of the Barossa, so larrikans and  winemakers will be united for 3-4 hours until another 230 of our local friends arrive to toast our health. At 1849 hours we shall ring the bell and raise our glasses!

Wednesday our Sales Managers arrive for a last throw of the sales planning dice pre Xmas. That night a farewell for comrade Peter Sawrey (who today sited a magnificent 10 tonne piece of granite in our enviro park at the back of the winery) will be held in the Signature Cellar, and then on Thursday we have 220 wine growers coming in to dine and celebrate our birthday and talk about the grape world. In fact the first and only Greek MW will be attending and he imports our wines into Greece. Konstantinos welcome.  I might let him talk !
So in signing off. We have had a year of incredible accolades. Our wines, our best ever – individual and classy. Business is fair but we shall prevail. However, for the next 72 hours I for one will be putting any negatives aside and celebrate by talking, eating, living and laughing with colleagues and friends. Thank you one and all wherever you are. Think big, talk small, walk tall. Go to it!

12 responses to “Days of Wines and Roses

  1. Warm wishes to the Hill Smiths and the whole gang at Yalumba…here’s to a very happy and many, many more!

  2. Robert + team Yalumba,

    Congratulations on reaching this significant 160 year milestone. Its inspiring to have seen how the family-friendly-relaxed culture has been maintained as Yalumba has grown into a sizable enterprise over the past decades.

    In a world that is being dominated by global players, its impressive that Yalumba has focused on creating sustainable and world class products…while maintaining independence from the ASX listed Goliath’s. Dare I suggest that Yalumba is emerging as the ‘Apple’ of the Australian Wine Industry?

    It must be the icing on the cake to reach this when also picking up the many ‘Winery of the Year’ accolades for 2009.

    Enjoy your festivities.


  3. Happy Birthday Rob !
    It is an enormous credit to you and the wide family that is Yalumba that takes you to this wonderful milestone.
    A memory that is vivid , and seems like yesterday is serving drinks in the Arbours at Lords in 1981, to Keith Miller , Dennis Compton and the like , at the Cricketers Club of London stall when you walked in promoting “The Family” with a small brief case and samples ! The passion and pride was as strong then , as now. Congratulations , have a great day.

  4. Congratulations and here’s to 160 more. Best wishes to Peter.

  5. 160 never looked so sexy! We are all blessed by association with this fantastic achievement. Happy Birthday Yalumba!!!

  6. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to you Robert and the whole Yalumba team. You are a very special company because of the very special people who work within. Passion is everything! Cheers to the next 160 years from myself and the whole Stillwater team!

  7. It is wonderful to be part of something so special. This brought a tear to my eye (as does the ‘Doing the little things brillianly’ video – no matter how many times I watch it!). A big happy birthday to Yalumba!

  8. Think big, talk small, walk tall…

    Customarily wise and shrewd, the ol’ Yalumba oracle almost reluctantly reflecting its generations of successes and future glory.

    Your people, your company and your wines are much loved -in many far-flung corners of the planet and not least here in the Cape (South Africa).

    Tonight’s sunset over our own winelands will be celebrated with a number of bottles of Pewsey Vale Riesling -with much pride in our hearts to be partners in this great vinous endeavour.

    Watch-out for us at the 200th celebration and beyond… and in the meantime congratulations to you all on being the greatest wine company, family and producers of at least one hemisphere of this spec called Earth.

    Cheers !

    Alex & the entire Winery of Good Hope team. Stellenbosch, South Africa.

  9. Many Happy Returns Yalumba!
    Greetings from an erstwhile & estranged Nukette
    all best
    Lord Ucker

  10. Catherine Garrett

    Congratulations on the 160th birthday. I still remember celebrating the 150th back in 1999 holding a glass of D on the front lawn of Yalumba. Will pick up a bottle of Jansz at Oddbins and toast you all.

  11. I have very fond memories of things Yalumba, albeit premised on a very brief but unforgettable interlude with the marketing ‘family’ in 1995/6.

    Working at The Campaign Palace with the extraordinary ‘Macca’ (a masterful wizard of both advertising, the art of communication and things Yalumba) plus Simon Collins, Pouli, Tommy Hales amongst others, the agency had an amazing relationship with the Yalumba brethren of Auldy, Sawry, Gatey, Ralph et al lead by the ever youthful and enthusiastic RHS.

    Yalumba were a group of folk like no other in business who not only appreciated but valued and practiced the meaning of ‘family’.
    We worked hard, we played hard but never lost sight of the mutual respect and regard for one another that is inherent in the quality of everything which the company and individuals strive for and deliver. They remain the most generous of hosts.

    It is of not the slightest surprise to me that Yalumba is celebrating 160 years of creating fine wines – they’ll still be here in another 160, but only that Peter Pan of Australian viticulture will be there to see it!

    Hearty congratulations to all.

  12. hiccup and hooray

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