To celebrate International Women’s Day in March, we’re interviewing different women about their journey into wine.
One of the areas in the wine industry that often flies under-the-radar is sales and marketing. Today we’re speaking to Siobhan Wilson from Marisco. A passionate wine marketer, Siobhan started her career in the vineyard and transitioned into the office.
She has worked for Montana, Lion Breweries and is one of the key people responsible for making The Ned into one of New Zealand’s most popular millennial brands.
What began as a summer job...
I studied horticulture at Massey University and back then, they offered a viticulture and oenology paper in third year. I signed up for it, mainly because they had weekly wine tastings and we got to make our own wine from Hawke's Bay – I loved it!
When I graduated with my honours degree and had no plans, I decided to get a summer job working for Montana in the vineyard. I spent a long hot Marlborough summer training young vines on Montana’s Squire Estate vineyard and I haven’t looked back from there.
I spent 6 months working in the vineyard, then my manager said, “I think you would be good at sales, as I can hear you talking all over the vineyard!” So off to Auckland I went and got a job in sales for Montana – such a great start to my career.
Kick-starting her career
I started as a sales cadet getting a great foundation on the basics of selling wine – something that I still refer back to today.
It was at Montana Wines Australia where I got my first role in marketing – becoming the marketing manager for Australia – and it was just when Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc started to really take off, so it was exciting times!
I had some great people in the marketing team of Montana at the time who took me under their wings and taught me a great deal on building great brands.
The call of home came after 5 years, so I moved back to a role with Lion. I managed a sales team of very dynamic women, within a brewery that was just starting to embrace wine – huge experience and at times challenging but rewarding.
Lion was an amazing company to work for once again giving me the opportunity to build my skill base across sales leadership, people management and once again brand marketing – but this time working with agency brands who were small and passionate producers from NZ and Australia – this is where I met Brent Marris.
The opportunity to work for his new company and start with a new brand The Ned – was too exciting. I have been there for nearly 12 years.
When I joined Marisco Vineyards we gave ourselves the goal of making The Ned a household brand that all 20 something-year-olds have as their go-to wine every day. 10 years ago, this seemed a very audacious goal, now we are that brand.
When I joined the company, I would say to people, “I work for The Ned,” and they would look blankly at me. Now I am overwhelmed by the response, “OMG I LOVE THE NED”. As a marketer of wine – that is what I love to hear.
I am very proud to be a member of the Marisco Vineyards family and to have been on the journey with Brent and Rosemary as we have built the company. It has been one hell of a ride and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon. What we have planned for the next 10 years is super exciting.
One day I will look back on my time at Marisco and be filled with pride and joy, that I was part of creating something amazing – great brands that people love!
Family and corporate wine businesses
The last 12 years of my career have taught me so much – working in a small business to start that grew with unprecedented speed and agility is something I will always be amazed that I was part of.
Both corporate and family businesses have amazing attributes, and both have challenges – I think ultimately what I have enjoyed is taking what I learnt working for a corporate company and trying to implement some of those disciplines into a family business.
You simply cannot say one is better than the other – what is the best is a culmination of both.
The people of New Zealand wine
The wine industry globally is full of great people and New Zealand is no exception! I cannot imagine working for an industry that is more dynamic and filled with interesting and passionate people.
We get the best of both worlds – we are an agricultural industry at heart so we have the connection to the land which grounds us and then we get the wonderful world of selling and marketing wine on a global scale which has us working in fascinating markets, selling wine to people who don’t know or understand New Zealand as a country but love the wine that we produce.