Leadership in Wine #12 - Claudio Heye

  • Alexis Robin

Born in the USA, grew up in Brazil, went to college in Switzerland, worked in Singapore and for the last 20 years has been living in Queenstown and working in the growing Central Otago wine industry. When not travelling the world on sales trips, trade exhibitions, tastings and general great eating and drinking, Claudio enjoys spending time with his young family and friends.

Claudio knows everyone in Central Otago and everyone knows Claudio. He is part of the regional wine folklore! Claudio is always willing to help out young wine professionals by giving career advice and sharing his 23 years of professional experience in Wine.


How do you define leadership?

I would define it as motivational, educational and being able to get the entire team to understand the vision or objectives of the company. To offer guidance and have a personal understanding of the tasks needed to reach goals. 


What are the main challenges of being a leader in the wine industry today?

Staff turnover, low pay and having the market dominated by large corporations. Downward price pressure and low margins. Hard to build brands and make them relevant to the ever-changing wine trends - orange, low sulphur, natural, etc...


What are your major breakthroughs in your career to become the leader you are now?

Hard work! Being flexible and eager to learn individually or with more experienced winemakers /colleagues.

Keeping updated on a fast changing world helped by having an international point-of-view.

A willingness to give back and contribute to an industry which has been good to me and offered me the ability to grow personally and professionally.

Understand the importance of networking!


If you were starting your career in 2019 in the wine industry, what advice would you give to yourself to become successful and content?

Set goals and keep track on the progress.

It's easy to loose focus by being immersed in the day-to-day battle that is to sell wine.

Take more risks.

Don’t expect to be given any breaks but fight for them and appreciate when you get one!


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  • dave joll
  • 12 Apr 2019
  • 2:34 pm

Thanks for the great advice Claudio-san!

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