I’ve known Richard Daniel Riddiford aka Bear, Riddler, Rid, Log, Waka for over 25 years.
It was business that introduced us, Richard consolidating vineyard and winery interests on his home turf in Martinborough into a new entity, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough and myself, with the Hill-Smith family’s support, seeking to steer the fledgling Negociants New Zealand fine wine distribution business through the recession of the very early 1990s. At that point in time, Negociants New Zealand (NNZ) required, on one hand, a more relevant, value vinous offering and on the other, a folio of exclusive premium New Zealand labels.
Cloudy Bay had been the first to join the good ship Negociants, a year or so earlier and Richard signed up Palliser with us also. Coupled with our own brand Nautilus, we were on our way.
Palliser Estate has stuck with NNZ through good times and tough times for over a quarter of a century. Its testament therefore to Richard that not only did he talk the value of loyalty in life and business as a mantra but he also walked the talk.
Richard would always ask how business was tracking and what the outlook was for his brands, Pencarrow and Palliser Estate. He was a deep thinker and a great listener. No matter where he was, whether in a meeting room, bar or dining room, he would always make a back-of-the-envelope note of anything he heard that he considered could make a difference.
Above all, he was driven by quality of performance – quality of people and quality of the wine in every bottle bearing the Company’s livery. How many times over the years have I heard Richard say, “If its not in the bottle, its not going to be on the table”.
Member of the NZ Order of Merit, fellow of the Royal Easter Show Hall of Fame, co-founder of The Family of Twelve, instigator of Toast Martinborough and the internationally renowned Pinot Noir celebration, on top of his work at Palliser Estate, Richard was a visionary, with the rare ability to galvanise and motivate the right teams of people to ensure that vision became reality. Realise it or not, time will prove that he leaves a legacy, for which everyone engaged in the New Zealand Wine Trade should be grateful; indeed the tributes pouring in from the wine community at large, already endorse this view.
Richard never suffered fools gladly. It would take a while to earn his trust, a decade at least in my case but once accepted by him, he became both friend and enduring confidante.
I know that Richard would wish for Palliser Estate to thrive well into the future; he has built a strong, capable, talented and professional team, ably led by CEO Pip Goodwin. There is every reason to believe therefore, that Richard’s ongoing dream for Palliser Estate to be “Best in Class” from a global perspective, remains absolutely intact. All the right ingredients are in place.
The saddest thing is that he wont be on Martinborough’s famed terroir to watch the progress. The reassuring thing is that he will be IN Martinborough’s terroir, helping to push up strong vines to bear great fruit, to make outstanding wines bearing the name Palliser Estate of Martinborough.
Thanks for everything Richard and know that you’re respected and loved by us all.
- Clive Weston