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 Chardonnay
Chardonnay (shar-dawn-AY) White Wine's Queen Bee
Sauvignon, Chardonnay can grow just about anywhere. It adapts well to different
soils and different climates. While frequently paired with
its native home lies in the vineyards of Burgundy,
France. The only major white grape of the region, Chardonnay is at its best on the rolling
slopes in Bourgogne. Other popular Chardonnay sites include California (just
about everywhere), Oregon,
Other US, Australia,
America and New
Chardonnay varies greatly with climate, soil and winemaking - but it adapts
just about anywhere, which is what makes it so popular. Cooler climates like
New Zealand and Chablis lead to crisp, acid-prone wines, while warmer climates
like Southern California and Australia foster riper grapes that create heavier
wine leaning towards tropical fruit flavors. So specific are the soils of Burgundy,
the wines of the region show subtle notes of mineral and chalk that belie their
origin. Chardonnay adapts itself to oak very well, as one may taste in many
of the wines.
Learn More About New Zealand
A few other New Zealand areas include the region of Auckland, high up on the North Island, Nelson, sitting to the west of Marlborough, and Canterbury, just under Waipara on the South Island. Most wines in New Zealand will come from a designated area and say so on the label.
Auckland was one of the first wine growing regions of the country, but now produces very little of New Zealand's wine. It's pretty wet up there so vineyards are planted in the driest spots possible – reds are most popular here. Nelson is the only region along the west coast of the country, producing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Canterbury's chilly climate is best suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.