After completing an apprenticeship in carpentry, a young Sir George Fistonich, just 21 years of age, realised he didn’t want to be a builder and instead bought some grapes and followed his passion for wine. George negotiated with his father to lease a plot of land in Mangere where he proceeded to plant his first Vineyard, naming it Villa Maria.
Quality and excellence has been at the core of Villa Maria from the beginning and an important part of George’s leadership style. It’s uncompromised at every single level. No matter which vineyard, or the grapes or the people - it’s evident in everything they do.
From reducing the weight of the wine bottles to doing away with the cork, sustainability has driven much of the company’s innovation over the years. It’s not been without risk, but the result has been the pioneering of many changes that have helped shape New Zealand’s wine Industry. It’s inherent in the way Villa Maria looks at the whole process and at every step asks the questions:
“how can we innovate, how can we make things better, how can we be smarter and more efficient as an organisation?”
It’s only been quite recently that New Zealand has become known on the world stage for wine and Villa Maria has contributed to that international success. While New Zealand is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, Villa Maria has been hard at work developing the next generation of wines to help break the stereotype. Their Chardonnay is incredible, the Pinot’s from down south are amazing and one of my personal favourites is their Albarino - simply phenomenal.
The challenge today is for Villa Maria to stay relevant to a new generation of wine drinkers but I’m pleased to say their commitment to quality and innovation is just as much ingrained in the organisation today as it was 55 years ago. At every level, Villa Maria’s viticulturists and winemakers put enormous time, attention and detail into the process to ensure quality all the way from vine to wine in the glass. And it’s evident in the incredible complexity, texture and taste of their wine! Don’t believe me? Just try some yourself!
Photography supplied by Villa Maria