New Zealand wine on top of the world

New Zealand wine on top of the world
Checking the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Marlborough.

Villa Maria has achieved something truly extraordinary this year, having made the top three of the world’s most admired wine companies. In the wine world, it’s the equivalent of an Olympic medal or winning the Rugby World Cup.
“Along with the Lord of the Rings and the All Blacks, our wine industry puts us on the map,” says Villa Maria founder, Sir George Fistonich.
“It is fantastic recognition for Villa Maria but also for the New Zealand wine industry as it shows we are punching well above our weight,” he says.
Villa Maria has long-established vineyards and winerys in Marlborough and Auckland.
The top three ranking was announced in Germany in March during ProWein, the world’s leading trade fair for wines and spirits.
Judging for the prestigious Drinks International awards was conducted by an elite team comprising over 130 of the world’s best masters of wine, sommeliers and wine journalists.
They were looking for authentic wines and brands, marketed and produced to meet consumers’ needs while also delivering exceptional consistency and quality.
This is the first time that a New Zealand wine brand has made the top three, but the accolade is not entirely unexpected given Villa Maria’s leading wine industry track record at home and a s a consistent top 10 performer in the Drinks International event.
The The winery was eighth in 2015, fourth in 2016, eighth in 2017 and fourth in 2018).
Asked to pinpoint the secret to the company’s outstanding performance, Sir George sums it up in a single word – “consistency”.
That means consistent quality being achieved year in, year out and at every price point from the approachable, everyday wines through to reserve and single vineyard wines.
New Zealand wine on top of the world
Villa Maria is proud of its heritage as a family-owned New Zealand company.
That heritage dates back to the days when New Zealand still had a predominantly port, sherry and beer drinking environment.
Sir George had a different vision, planting his first acre of vines in 1961 on land leased from his father in Mangere, Auckland.
Today, the company employs 250 staff, grows 28 different grape varieties and exports to more than 60 countries.
“We recognised early on that we needed good people and that we also needed to start educating our grape growers, viticulturists and wine makers.
“I strongly believe in the power of mentoring and training and taking people on the journey with you. We developed a strong team culture from the start and our passion has always been to make the best wine possible.”
That commitment to quality includes a commitment to innovation.
Villa Maria was the first major New Zealand wine company to switch from corks to screwcaps and is also a founding member of Sustainable Winegrowing NZ.
Many consider Villa Maria to be one of the jewels in Auckland’s crown, with tens of thousands of international travellers visiting each year and world-renowned musical artists regularly gracing the stage there, (with concerts coming up including John Farnham in November 2019 and A-ha in March 2020).
The Marlborough Cellar Door also attracts many international visitors.
Meanwhile, Sir George observes that the 2019 vintage is one that will be remembered as one of the best ever, with grapes showing wonderful flavour intensity.
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