In 1960, George Fistonich, the son of a Croatian immigrant, founded Villa Maria in Mangere, Auckland. Voted New Zealand's Winemaker of the Year in 1993, George is today the managing director of the Villa Maria Group, which also includes Vidal and Esk Valley Wineries, together forming the third largest wine company in New Zealand.
Winemaker Michelle Richardson has been with Villa Maria since 1992. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe and Australia and in 1991 assisted flying winemaker Hugh Ryman with the French vintage. In 1997, Michelle, like George Fistonich, was voted New Zealand's Winemaker of the Year. Her 1996 wines have taken Villa Maria to new peaks in quality. Michelle is a graduate of the highly regarded Roseworthy College in Australia. She heads the Villa Maria winemaking team.
This team of dedicated vintners has placed its emphasis on high quality and good value. Grapes are either estate-grown or carefully sourced, and the winery was the first in New Zealand to initiate payment for grapes by quality.
Villa Maria has won awards for its wines in competitions across New Zealand and Australia and has been honored for its high standards of customer service and environmental responsibility.
Learn More About Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc (so-veen-YAWN blahnk)
One of the most distinctive grapes, Sauvignon Blanc is a highly aromatic variety
that does well in both the old and new world. From the Loire
Valley of France to Marlborough
in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc has found many regions that bring out its unique
and delicious flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc's home is the Loire Valley of France, where it produces the
crisp, grassy mineral-tinged wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume (not to be mistaken
with Pouilly Fuisse in Burgundy
- that would be Chardonnay). Wine of this region is crisp and grassy, with delicious minerality and an
occasional gun flint/smokey character. In the 1970's, New Zealand planted its first cuttings
of Sauvignon Blanc, which in turn brought the country to the forefront of the
wine world. In New Zealand, the variety exudes its typical crisp acidity, as
well as pungent passion fruit and grapefruit aromas and flavors. In
Sauvignon Blanc is produced both in stainless steel (like New Zealand and France)
and with a touch of oak. The wooded versions maintain the acidity of the grape
but tone down the intense citrus flavors with subtle oak characteristics. Winemakers
differ in their addition or choice of oak. The grape also produces delicious
wines from Chile and
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Loire Valley, New Zealand, California, Chile, Italy
Common Descriptors: grass, lemon, grapefruit, passion fruit.
Learn More About Marlborough, New Zealand
Sitting pretty on the northern tip of New Zealand's south island, Marlborough has become synonymous with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As well it should be – Marlborough is the primary region for those delicious, citrusy, summer-lovin' wines with vibrant acidity and pungent, grassy, grapefruit flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is the main grape here; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are also made.
The region has well-drained alluvial loam soils, which are perfect for grape growing. The grapes receive a good deal of sunshine during the day, but recovers in the cool evenings. Marlborough's growing season is long, which helps foster the gradual, even ripening of the grapes. Not made for much aging, the Sauvignon Blancs of Marlborough are of the buy ‘em and drink ‘em class of wine. Expect little vintage variation here - quantity differs more than quality.