CellarVie Wines meets…González Byass chairman Mauricio González-Gordón

Mauricio González-López de Carrizosa Gordon represents the fifth generation of the González’ family to be involved with Jerez’s leading Sherry producer, González Byass, and has been chairman of the world renowned wine company since 2006. CellarVie Wines grabbed a few minutes with Mauricio to discuss the importance of family dynamics within the business and the revival of the Sherry industry within the United Kingdom...

The notion of legacy and heritage and the continuation of the company seems a very important idealism at González Byass?

Certainly, the whole ethos of the company is about planning ahead and the integration of the family unit aids this. We are now representing the fifth generation in the company and obviously from the point-of-view of the family, it does change; not just in the number of people but how close they are to the company. One needs to understand the links and the emotions within the family to organise that relationship to the business.

As you know we have been sherry producers for our entire history but a few decades ago we started the diversification towards other origins because we believe consumers have a wider choice and we wanted to be able to supply that. So we have been working towards supplying a portfolio of brands that represents enological diversity. That obviously takes a long time and that is not a problem because of our long-termism. Our goal is to really pass it on to the next generation and we believe our burgeoning markets and exploration of new markets have the capacity to secure our interests for the next generation.

More than most companies González Byass is epitomised by that family ethos. Do you think that has been one of the major factors behind your success?

The long term perspective and the fact that you are not just there to make money means there is immediately a business model to conduct yourself by. But obviously the business has to be a business and over time the family shareholders, who don’t all work in the business, demand a result and you know, they have an investment and so they want a return on it. We can’t lose track of the fact that this is a business but I always say that we have to keep on building the emotional link between the families and the business.

At the beginning that was very easy because all of them participated, but now there are 130 of us and only a few work in the business and the family are dotted all over the world. We endeavour to bring them all close to our brand and encourage them to participate in some capacity because the emotional factor, while not a substitute for the business results of the company, can help in the long term trajectory of González Byass. I also see it as a defence for the quality factor. No one wants to see their surname on the label of a product that they don’t feel proud of; that element of demand of quality from the family is always present. If we launch something that they don’t really believe is up to standard they will tell us.

It’s not just within the family though. It seems that the winemakers [such as the recently interviewed Antonio Flores Pedregosa] have a heritage of their own within González Byass; has that family ethos infiltrated the whole business?

This is very true. A lot of our winemakers have three to four generations of family within the business. It’s important and we make an effort for that to continue. If two people of equal ability, experience and endeavour are trying to join the business we will try to favour those with a family link. Maintaining that emotional link and family ethos is important and it makes the business stronger.

How do explain the recent revival of the sherry industry in the UK and are the main factors behind it?

One is probably social in the sense that at a certain point in time a particular sherry had an association with a certain image; the elderly perhaps. Obviously younger people don’t want to be associated with that image and it deterred some people from sherry for a while. Nowadays it has been long enough ago since that association has fallen away somewhat so that younger people and younger consumers are ready to understand one of the great wines of the world, which has a lot to offer. The diversity and variety of sherry is becoming more well-known and better understood.
The other factor that has played a part is how we eat. Sherry and in particular Fino has generally been a superb appetiser in addition to being a great dessert wine. Nowadays, because of the informal way we eat at times, sherry comes in beautifully there. Obviously in London, the tapas movement and the diversity of dishes and the sharing element has really come to the fore. I think those two factors of diversity and sharing has tied in very nicely with sherry. I think it’s brought sherry back to a lot these places. There seems to be fewer preconceptions about sherry now.
To read our interview with González Byass' Master Blender Antonio Flores Pedregosa click here.  
Main Image from http://www.santelmo.org 

Written by: Ben Moss

Ben Moss 


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