Written by Victoria Clark
If there’s one thing Heidi Seifried-Houghton has learned from almost two decades of wine-making, it’s the importance of ‘being in touch’ with the grapes as they’re growing.
There is an old and very true saying in Europe, she says – “the best fertiliser for the vineyard is the winemaker’s footsteps.”
Heidi is the eldest of Hermann and Agnes Seifried’s three children, and all are an integral part of the now 45-year-old business, Seifried Wines.
“Dad grows the grapes, my brother Chris and I turn the grapes into wine, and my sister Anna markets it,” Heidi explains. “I love the seasonality of the vineyard, but once I’ve been stuck inside in the lab or the office doing audits for a while, I really miss being out in the vineyard with Dad, checking on the grapes, tasting them – and there’s always a moment when I suddenly realise the next vintage is just around the corner.”
Heidi completed a post-graduate diploma in viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University in 2001, graduating with Distinction – an accomplishment which followed her graduation from Dentistry at the University of Otago. She went on to gain vineyard and winery experience in vineyards in New Zealand, Oregon and Germany, proudly working and training at Weinsberg Weinbau Schuler in Germany where her father Hermann studied as a young man learning the art of wine-making.
“In between vintages I worked in dentistry and, nowadays, I’m a dentist on one day each week. My mother always says dentistry pays the bills and, for my work in the family business, I will be rewarded in Heaven!”
Heidi believes family wine-producing businesses are “quite special,” though more and more of them are falling by the wayside.
“Our family gets together in quite an informal way, yet I think we’re efficient and run a fairly slick operation; we get things done.”
The Seifrieds often spend their down-time together, too, particularly when the vines are bare and there’s snow in the mountains – “Every winter, the entire family meet at Rainbow Skifield. It’s always time well-spent – together.”