Battling the environment is just one contest Emily Swift is prepared to face as she oversees the emergence of her family vineyard, Printhie Wines.
Tell us a little bit about your business Printhie Wines -
Printhie Wines was founded by my in-laws in 1996 when they planted the first vineyard on the family property, ‘Printhie’, in the Orange region. A winery was built in 2004 changing the nature of the business from grape growing to wine production.
Our guests can enjoy a tasting of our cool climate wines, indulge in a degustation lunch at Printhie Dining overlooking the valley below, or go beyond the cellar door with a selection of intimate journeys of discovery including picnics and the Sparkling Masterclass, where we uncover why our Swift Sparkling range is considered one of Australia’s best.
How is Printhie Wines unique?
We’re passionate about traditional method sparkling which is made exactly the same way as champagne, we just can’t use that name. Late last year we were awarded Best Australian Sparkling for the Swift 2011 Blanc de Blancs at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London - well outside our initial ambitions.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?
As a business owner your achievements are so much more rewarding, but you also feel the lows at a very personal level. Owning your own business does afford you flexibility, which should not be mistaken with working less hours. It just means you stay up later or get up earlier. It’s a relentless 24/7 role.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Prior to stepping into Printhie Wines, I had a great corporate marketing career. The migration from suits, 9 to 5 grind, corporate stakeholders and a whole IT department, to the vineyards and the 18-hour days in the family business
was a little testing, to say the least.
I think there are many women who marry into family businesses and have to navigate the delicate role of taking up space, gently acquiring responsibility and gaining the respect of older generations.
I’ll admit there are days when I miss the corporate perks (especially the luxury of an IT department) but when I reflect on what we have created as a family, I’m incredibly proud.
Together, we’ve endured serious challenges. In four we have had to overhaul the business to survive three years of drought, smoke taint from bushfires in 2020 which meant we couldn’t make any wine that year, and then the gruelling punishment of downsizing through Covid.
What’s been the highlight of your career?It would have to be transitioning the business from not only an award-winning wine business and sparkling producer, to now, managing a fine dining restaurant and state-of-the-art cellar door. It was a long, hard journey and at times it all felt too much but to now stand back and see what we’ve built is a true personal career highlight.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today?
Unfortunately, I have to say sexism. There is still a long way to go to rectify the ingrained prejudice against women in senior business roles from years of embedded generational sexist attitudes and behaviour. I’m sure every female business owner can provide multiple examples of sexism. I’d like to think it is the responsibility of all leaders to continue to call it out and pursue holistic change.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
“Don’t let the great get in the way of the good”. I initially struggled with this concept. However, I totally embrace it now. Don’t get caught up in striving for perfection or you’ll get stuck in the minutiae. Progress, whether it’s perfect or not, is a key component of any successful business.
Women have long represented the archetype of the ‘juggler’. How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
It’s still a work in progress but I’m learning to not be so hard on myself when I’m not the perfect mum or the perfect business owner. We need to be kinder to ourselves and in my opinion, we should remove the concept that a perfect balance exists.
What's one thing every woman should know about being successful in her career and life?
That we should place appropriate value on our time. We have a tendency to undervalue or diminish our skills and experience. Identify what you should be spending your time on – what’s the most profitable activity you can be doing for your business - and outsource as much as you can of the rest.
What’s on the horizon for Printhie Wines in 2023?
We’d really like 2023 to be a somewhat stable year so we can focus on creating beyond the cellar door experiences and continue to find ways for guests to enjoy and respect the beautiful Wiradjuri landscape where our cella door is located.
Location: ORANGE | NSW
Facebook: Printhie Wines
Photography: Monique Loveick