Leadership in Wine #8 - Shane Livingstone
Shane started his career in Viticulture at Millton Vineyard in Gisborne under the leadership of James & Annie Millton who were the first to set-up an organic and bio-dynamic wine estate in New Zealand. Shane worked as Vineyard Manager for seven years. In 2008 he moved to Central Otago to be in charge of Northburn Station vineyard (now owned by Cloudy Bay). With his team, Shane led the conversion of the vineyard into organic methods.
Since 2014, Shane has been the Vineyard Manager at Burn Cottage Vineyard, a producer of top quality Pinot Noir wines from Central Otago.
How do you define leadership?
Leadership is about a clear vision and going for it. It also needs to be communicated and get the buy in over those on the journey with you.
What are the main challenges of being a leader in the wine industry today?
Clarity and where things are going particularly with more large corporate wine companies, and a reduction in small artisan family producers, and the lack of new entrants at the small producers end, to help drive the whole industry.
We often have interns, or young producers from overseas, coming to spend time helping in the vineyard and many of them are going home to start a small wine company leasing a few hectares of grapes or an old winery and producing their own labels. There doesn’t seem to be this space available in New Zealand as yet but this is something we need to grow.
What are your major breakthroughs in your career to become the leader you are now?
I don’t think of breakthroughs, I think of conversations, experiences and hard work. Sometimes it's just being in the right place at the right time.
If you were starting your career in 2019 in the wine industry, what advice would you give to yourself to become successful and content?
Seek experiences both large and small vineyards, wineries, sales, hospitality, corporate and family through out New Zealand and the world.
Each place you go gives you a new perspective. Do a full season in the vineyard to build the knowledge. Talk to people. What works in one place doesn’t in another and it is about using your experience to find what works for you in a given situation.