Coming from a family legacy wine business, Beth Forrest of Forrest Wines is one of the many women making inroads in the New Zealand wine industry. This International Women’s Day 2019, Beth shares her experiences – how working with her family has shaped her, and why she’s all fired up about NZ Lighter Wine.
I’ve always found the New Zealand wine industry to be very supportive, collegial and open. Starting from the bottom, I’ve risen through the ranks through hard work, perseverance and patience. I’ve spent my career taking every opportunity to learn as I worked through the different facets of the industry before settling into a space that inspired me. This hard work has given me a greater all-round understanding when tackling any task or challenges that arise.
I think that, as women, we are lucky there are so many different roles and opportunities that allow anyone to excel. There is a place for so many specialties we can make a difference in. Whether you’re passionate about viticulture, the land and where it comes from or the persona and gift of the gab in sales, the wine industry covers such a huge array of job opportunities and it’s simply about finding your niche in this exciting space.
With all of my experience working throughout the various areas in the industry in my career so far, the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome is myself. At times, I think we are our own worst enemy, with self-doubt and indecision clouding our perfectly good ideas. I constantly have to work on backing myself and believing in what I set out to achieve.
I’m lucky to have such a wonderful support system in my family, who are the world’s best cheerleaders. As a family, we celebrate both our wins and our adversities, occasionally arguing or offending each other as our likeness wars with our different ways of thinking. Communication is the key thing keeping us moving forward as a family and a business.
I have the deepest respect for my family. I think it’s always important to respect where you came from and everything your forerunners have achieved and developed. I’ve been given this opportunity to live my family story because their passion, dedication, blood, sweat and tears have made it possible. I’ve managed to develop my own sense of place by acknowledging their achievements in the past.
Not only are my family incredibly supportive, they’ve also always been ahead of the game, which has helped me immensely to be a part of their innovations.
My dad, John Forrest, has always put innovation first, and is now part of the team pioneering an entirely new category – NZ Lighter Wine. He was the first one to see an opportunity – understanding vineyards and grapevine phenology enough to achieve the production of naturally lighter wines. I work with him as both his sounding board and occasional nemesis when I shoot down ideas, but he has the most amazing enquiring brain. I think I’ve been bought up with that same need to question why? Or could we do it differently? So, I think we are set to continue to enhance this category.
NZ Lighter Wine is carving a space in the industry at a time when people are questioning what we put in our bodies and moderating our drinking habits. At the same time, I, like many others, don’t want to miss out on life’s little luxuries like a cold rosé on a hot summer’s day.
There’s an opportunity for us and our industry as a whole to fully explore this new category of lifestyle drink, where you can get the joy of a glass of wine without the guilt that may accompany it.
For me, personally, I’m excited about the developments in the category. I love the feeling of a glass in the hand, and I dislike suffering from FOMO. The idea that I can go out and enjoy the experience of catching up with the girls, having a laugh and enjoying a beautiful glass of wine without the guilt of not being able to do what I need to the next day is really important to me.
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the wine industry. With my family support, the wider community of winemakers and a continuing creative drive to learn, improve and innovate, I think the future of this industry will be rich with innovations and transformations in the coming years. I’m so proud to be one of the many women working in this diverse and inclusive industry.