Leadership in Wine #27 - Paul Tudgay

  • Alexis Robin

Paul is a wine professional from the U.K. who lived for 13 years in New Zealand and now lives in Curitiba, Brazil. He decided to dedicate his career to his passion; wine. Paul is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and an educator with WSET.

Paul was the general manager of Northburn Station in New Zealand until the company was sold to Moet Hennessy in 2013. Recently Paul and his wife Juliana founded the wine distribution company Rootstock Vinhos in Brazil and they supply exclusively to the portfolio of Berkmann Wine Cellars in their region.

Paul has 20 years of experience in the wine industry.


How do you define leadership?

Leadership is about excellent communication and leading by example. It’s about taking the rough with the smooth, being consistent and approachable. I think these factors will naturally motivate the people around you.


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

Being up to date with modern trends and tendencies. There are some huge challenges ahead in terms of the consumption of alcohol – new generations are drinking and spending less and less on wine – as well as climate change and the ethics involved in the production of wine. With those challenges come opportunities. Consumer choice has never been better with new categories emerging all the time. I think there is a move amongst customers for more authenticity in wine and the presentation of wine not simply as a product but as an experience. This presents exciting opportunities in all areas of the business and room for innovation that is leading to a focus more on quality and origin. Chile is a great example of a country that is taking this challenge by the scruff of the neck and making fresher, modern and authentic new wines while at the same time rediscovering and celebrating its past.


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

Having the opportunity to study with the Court of Master Sommeliers in New Zealand, thanks to the work of Cameron Douglas MS, was essential to me gaining knowledge, confidence and a professional title in the wine business. Both studying and teaching through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) with Jane Skilton MW gave me more structure and consistency in my tasting. Having inspirational close friendships with people such as Claudio Heye from Domain Thomson, who showed me the way to transition from the hospitality to the wine industry. Having a supportive wife who also works in wine and who keeps me level-headed was a massive breakthrough! Opening up our distribution business in Brazil has been challenging but is proving to be rewarding.


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

Study, study, study, taste as much as possible, be patient. Remember it’s not the title on the business card that matters, but the quality of the work you do and the connections you make. The wine industry is 100% about people.

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