The three seahorses on the Wakefield Wines logo announce three generations of family business. The Taylor family has successfully been crafting new world wines with old world elegance for the last half-century. What began as a daring idea in the mind of Bill Taylor Senior, has grown with his son and grandsons into a respected wine brand that stands with the biggest brands in the world. Recently, Justin Taylor visited the Notable community to share his family’s product, perfectly paired with delectable delights at Dish Cooking Studio.
More often these days, the business that serve our daily needs and desires are on opposite extremes, between small business and multinational corporations; the family-run fruit market on the corner, to Costco; the neighbourhood microbrewery to Anheuser Busch; the coffee shop owner who knows your name and drink by heart, to a Starbucks on every corner. Often, our favourite small businesses find success and growth, get bought out by huge conglomerates, and the driving forces behind the business are taken away from people who set out to provide top quality service and/or products, and put into the hands of shareholders whose focus is maximizing growth and profits.
So, it’s refreshing when we get to see a family business achieve a global presence and maintain the values and personal touch that have made them flourish. Such is the case with Wakefield Wine (known as Taylors Wines in most of the Southern Hemisphere). The Australian winemaker has achieved tremendous success internationally but remains a family business three generations deep. Founded in 1969, they are one of Australia’s First Families of Wine. In the middle of the last century, Bill Taylor had a goal to find land in Australia that would grow vines to rival Bordeaux. He found what he was looking for in the terroir of the Clare Valley, a vintner’s dream come true. In the early seventies, their Cabernet Sauvignon garnered massive acclaim and set them up to become the success they are today, the top tier of Australian wine revenues in company with giants like Pernod Ricard and Treasury Wine Estates.
Bill Taylor’s three sons, Mitchell, Justin, and Clinton, continue to grow and evolve the family business, each with a pivotal role in running an internationally appreciated wine company. Mitchell is Managing Director, and is himself an experienced winemaker with a direct involvement in the creation of Wakefield’s wines. Clinton is the Winery Operations Manager, ensuring high standards of craftsmanship in production. Justin is Company Director and has been instrumental in bringing the family’s wine to international markets.
Recently, members of the Notable community were treated to a visit by Justin Taylor at an intimate wine pairing event in Dish Cooking Studio in Toronto. The food, by Chef Erin Ross was perfectly matched to a healthy selection of Wakefield’s wines, but what enhanced the evening overall was Justin’s enthusiasm for his family’s business. His admiration and appreciation of his father and brothers was evident (even amongst the playful barbs), and his excitement for the wine we were drinking added a dimension to the “product” that goes beyond taste.
Beyond the wine itself, the family’s pride in their wineries sustainability and environmental practices was on display. The Taylor family has a commitment to the land and sea that goes deeper than any corporate doctrine. These are people who live in the land that gives them their business and care first-hand about it’s health. In addition to sustainable operations, Wakefield has been active in fundraising for many environmental initiatives, including a partnership with Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Project Seahorse.
We go to the store to buy a bottle of wine and end up staring at towering walls of bottles, unsure what to reach for. Often, what helps us make the choice is the story that distinguishes the bottle we choose. For those of us in attendance that night, when we see the three seahorses on the logo, the story in our minds will be the jubilant energy of people coming out of two years of lockdown, the welcoming bustle of Dish Cooking Studio, the aromas and tastes of food carefully tailored to the wines in the glass, and it is all tied together by the excitement and humour of a charming Australian guy who is sharing his family’s wine with new friends.