Leadership in Wine #34 - Stuart Dudley

  • Alexis Robin

Stuart began his career in viticulture in 2006 and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology. He started as technical officer at Delegat, then became grower viticulturist. In 2010 Stuart won both NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year and Young Horticulturist of the Year. In 2011 his career progressed as he became regional viticulturist for Villa Maria based in Marlborough. He has 13 years of experience in the wine industry.

Stuart is passionate about the future of the New Zealand wine industry and is involved with vineyard research projects to ensure its sustainability and continued reputation for quality wines. Stuart was Chair of the Marlborough Young Vit committee for the last few years and is now putting his leadership skills to good use as Deputy Chair of Wine Marlborough.

Stuart has also been shortlisted for the new international ‘Future 50’ awards. Launched in 2019 by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) & the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) their goal is to “unearth the industry’s up and coming talent” and recognize fifty top young professionals from around the world. There were over 600 global nominations, so for Stuart to be shortlisted for the ‘Future 50’ awards, is already a great achievement. 


How do you define leadership?

I think good leaders have a pull affect, in that people want to follow them, rather than being told to. They should have a vision and be able to inspire others to want to come along for the ride.


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

Keeping up with the continual changes, getting the team to be able to adapt and change quickly where required. Also more and more so ensuring that the culture in the workplace is challenging but enjoyable.


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

Firstly was going through the young viticulturist process, it opened up lots of doors, gave me a much broader view of the industry. Secondly was being given my current role at Villa Maria in 2011, being thrown in the deep end with significant increase in staff and responsibility, it was a steep learning curve!


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

Ensure that you are being challenged and learning all the time. Try to work with people and companies that share the same passions as you. Spend time engaging with as many people in the industry as possible as there is so much knowledge from experience out there that cannot be learnt from a book.

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