Yalumba is the oldest family-owned winery in Australia, and prides itself on the history and culture that is associated with its brand. Managing Director Nick Waterman has been with the company for 12 years, and is the first non-family member to be appointed to the position.
Located in the Barossa Valley, the winery was founded 1849 by British immigrant Samuel Smith, who named the property after the local Indigenous word for land all around. Yalumba is still family owned, with the fifth generation of Smiths now running the winery. Its been their hard work, Nick says, that has made his job so much easier. Robert Hill-Smith was the previous CEO, current owner, and now chairman, Nick says, and he has done a fantastic job over 30 years to position this business in such a way that its on a fairly strong and solid footing.
Nick came to Yalumba in 2003 after two decades in the technology industry. His background meant that he was well equipped to deal with change, something the wine industry had not embraced since the downturn in 2008. I had 18 years in technology before I joined the wine industry 12 years ago. Those 18 years, where it was all about living with an unbelievable amount of change, have equipped me well to deal with what arguably is a fundamental structural change in the wine industry on a global basis. The past 12 years working for Yalumba have given me the time to get my head around and understand not only the industry and our business but also the culture of this company, which is fairly sacrosanct.
The culture at Yalumba is, Nick says, a result of the family ownership and the close ties employees feel they have with the company. Many of the winerys workers have been with us for a good number of years, making everyone feel like family. I tell everybody here that the culture is a living thing. Sometimes people tend to defer to culture as if it is innate and outside of their control. Culture is what you do every day in your working life, and we are evolving our culture while respecting our heritage.