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Family of Twelve pays tribute to "visionary" chairman

Published:  03 October, 2016

A fraternity of twelve of New Zealand's top wineries has said farewell to its first chairman.

Richard Riddiford, head of Palliser Estate for 25 years, was one of The Family of Twelve's founding members back in 2005 and was the group's first ever chairman.

His colleagues have spoken out following his passing back in July and credit him with helping to put the Martinborough region of Wellington on the world wine map.

The 65-year-old passed away after a short illness, having passed the reigns over to new CEO Pip Goodwin last year.

A spokesperson for the Family said: "Our Family is made up of 12 very special people, and recently we lost one of them. Richard had the vision and passion to see that as a Family we could be strong, different and above all enduring. He saw that quality and character would always be in vogue; that if we stayed true to ourselves the world would seek us out.

"Richard lived these values with a dedication and an unwavering sense of purpose and confidence. He was passionate about wine, people, about Martinborough, Palliser and his beloved dogs.

"He will be missed, but his legacy will live on in every vintage and at every Family gathering. "

during his career, Riddiford lead industry initiatives including Toast Martinborough and pioneered Wellington's highly respected Pinot Noir conferences.

For his contributions to the world of wine, he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000; in 2010 was inducted into the NZ Wine Hall of Fame and last year was inducted as a Fellow of New Zealand Winegrowers.

Clive Weston, of Nautilus Estate, knew Richard for 26 years and described him as "a visionary, a straight-shooter, and very modest. He achieved a great deal, but never bragged about it. He earned a lot of respect".

In August, the group welcomed its first ever chairwoman.

Neudorf Vineyards' Judy Finn, has been a "driving force" in the evolution of New Zealand's quality wine industry and a "true pioneer" in Nelson.

She said: "The joy of being part of this group is the camaraderie, the viticultural and oenological intelligence and best of all, the sharing of a memorable story over a glass."

Next month, the Family will host its cousins, Australia's First Families of Wine, when seventeen of their 'next generation' members will visit New Zealand to exchange wine and of ideas including sustainability, succession planning and a chardonnay masterclass with Michael Brajkovich MW.