Familiness as a Form of Value for Wineries: A Preliminary Account

Based on a small, exploratory study of three family-owned wineries in Victoria, Australia, the article examines how ‘familiness’ is constructed as a form of value. Drawing on work in cultural economy and economic sociology, we propose that familiness can be best understood as the outcome of a process of qualification that mediates between a winery's actual repertoire of properties and its cultural reception through the selective framing and legitimizing of family-related product properties as worthy points of attachment. There were five major themes around which the notion of family was clustered in the narratives of winery representatives and in winery marketing material: family as a key dimension of marketing strategy; the day-to-day involvement of family; the winery's family heritage; family as a symbolic quality; and the brand as family. Based on these findings, we argue that familiness may involve both indexical and iconic cues, that the material family is only one element in the construction of familiness as a form of value, and that familiness is legitimized as a point of attachment for consumers and employees through reference to authenticity, among other discourses.