On a warm afternoon in the summer of 1991, Robert Drouhin and Miguel Torres, two of the most respected wine producers in the world, found themselves walking around a vineyard pleasantly discussing the difficulties of their craft. They talked about the best ways to appreciate the wines they produced and the challenge and complexity involved in managing a family business.
Their conversation inspired the idea of an annual meeting where a select group of representatives from the most important family wineries in the world could share their collective expertise in the pursuit of greater perfection. The next year the project became a reality. They created the platform for an informal association of family-owned businesses that today continues to be unique in the wine world, and probably also in business in general. It goes beyond geographical borders and general commercial competition between various corporations.
More than 20 years have passed since the founding of Primum Familiae Vini (PFV), a partnership limited to 12 families (today it has only 11) of reputed traditional winemakers, joined in their efforts to exchange experiences and philosophies, and share solutions to problems common to all of them.
PFV enlists the elite producers from each region. This association is accessed by invitation only, and with the unanimous vote by all the members. These wineries are well renowned at the international level and have a combined experience of 3,500 years of wine making. Some of the member wineries date from the 14th, 17th and 18th centuries. The others were founded in the 19th century. The youngest member is Famille Perrin, which was established in 1909.
They call themselves Custodians of Part of their Respective National Heritages, and the list of members includes the world’s most significant wine producers. The essential requirements are that all the wineries and vineyards must be family owned, and enjoy both: high prestige and an excellent international reputation.
The 11 wineries that make up this exclusive club are: Maison Joseph Drouhin (Burgundy, France), Maison Hugel & Fils (Alsace, France), Famille Perrin-Beaucastel (Rhone Valley, France), Sassicaia-Tenuta San Guido (Tuscany, Italy), Chàteau Mouton Rothschild (Médoc, France), Egon Müller- Scharzhof (Mosel Valley, Germany), Champagne Pol Roger (Champagne, France), The Symington Family Estates (Oporto, Portugal), Marchesi Antinori (Tuscany, Italy), Vega Sicilia and Miguel Torres (Spain).
In recent years, some wineries have had to abandon PFV because they were no longer family owned. That was the case of Mondavi (California, USA) in 2005, and Paul Jaboulet Aîné (Rhone, France) in 2006.
PFV sets the standards of excellence in the production of quality wines, a commitment shared by all the members. The close relationship between these families also facilitates the exchange of valuable information related to viticulture and means of production. Every year a member of the association is elected President and Julien de Beaumarchais of Mouton Rothschild is currently responsible for directing PFV for the 2012 / 2013 period.
The spirit of the partnership is defined in statutes that oblige the families to respect the philosophy of appellations of origin to which they belong, aware that their individual brands are the greatest exponents of the prestige achieved in the various areas where wine is produced.
Other pledges are respect for the environment, promotion of quality viticulture with express terroir protection, and support for the study of the interaction between wine and health, investigating and reporting the beneficial effects of wine. All members are encouraged to defend and broadcast these values in all possible forums.
Additionally, the members of the association, their families and some of their management teams meet each year to share their knowledge and experience, analyze the evolution of the wine industry and agree on activities for the next year.
The wines produced by these wineries are among the best and are always listed in the most prestigious publications and wine guides worldwide, and although they can be found in virtually any wine shop, for the most demanding wine lovers the PFV offers a selection box of Primum Familiae Vini (Case Collection Primum Familiae Vini), a beautiful mahogany box containing a bottle of the finest wine from each winery.
In the past, the collection box has been offered as a gift to selected world leaders, including King Juan Carlos I of Spain and King Carl Gustav XVI of Sweden. It has also been auctioned with great success at international charity events.
CASE COLLECTION PRIMUM FAMILIAE VINI
CHAMPAGNE POL ROGER: Blanc de Blancs 1999
MAISON JOSEPH DROUHIN: Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc 2008
HUGEL & FILS: Riesling “Hugel” 2005 Jubilee
PERRIN & FILS: Château de Beaucastel Red 2006
MARCHESI ANTINORI: Tignanello 2007
TENUTA SAN GUIDO: Guidalberto 2008
MIGUEL TORRES: Mas La Plana 2007
VEGA SICILIA: Único 2000
CHÂTEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD: Château d’Armailhac 2003
EGON MÜLLER-SCHARZHOF: Scharzhofberger Auslese 2007
THE SYMINGTON FAMILY PORT COMPANIES: Dow’s 2007 Vintage Port. ■