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About Us

Our Story

From a one-man band to a global brand in 50 years

In 1961, at just 21 years of age, George Fistonich leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland and started off with just an acre of vines.

George made his first wine under the name Villa Maria in 1962 with grapes harvested from this block.

Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band, with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture.

George made dry red and white wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Auckland regions.

In the early 1970s George started to employ staff and the company expanded rapidly.

Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff, grows 28 different grape varieties, and exports wine to over 60 countries worldwide.

We're New Zealand's Most Awarded Winery

Young George Fistonich Bike Young George on bike
Villa Car and Barrels Villa Maria car and barrels
Young George Fistonich Vines Young George tends vines
George Tasting George tasting

Sir George Fistonich has spent six decades helping to nurture and expand New Zealand’s wine industry

At Villa Maria we're known for making bold, industry-changing moves. 

Here are some of the great milestones and achievements we have accomplished since day one.

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1961

George Fistonich leased five acres of his father and started with just an acre of vines

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1962

Villa Maria produces first vintage.

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Late 60s  

Our Wine Club was established to educate consumers in wine & food matching.

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Early 70s

Villa Maria employed first staff.

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Early 80s  

Villa Maria instigates first grape grower bonus- based on quality - not on quantity.

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1988

International wine exports commenced.

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1995 

 Villa Maria becomes an accredited Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) member.

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2000

Villa Maria opens Marlborough winery.

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2001

Villa Maria moves to become a cork-free zone – switching to 100% screwcaps.

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2005  

Villa Maria opens Auckland winery & vineyard park.

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2009 

George Fistonich receives country's first knighthood for services to the wine industry.

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2012

Villa Maria celebrates 50 years of exceptional winemaking.

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2013

Named Wine Company of the Year at the NZ International Wine Show.

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2015  

Villa Maria nominated 4th in World's 50 Most Admired Wine Brands by Drinks International UK.

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2016  

Named Most Trusted Wine Brand in NZ - Reader's Digest.

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2017

George Fistonich inducted to Restaurant and Hospitality Hall of Fame.

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2018

Villa Maria opens new winery in Hawkes Bay.

Our People

Meet some of our key people

Read about our people
Regions

Our regions

Sustainability

Sustainability and organics

"As a family company, the desire to leave something for the next generation is an ever-present and overriding business objective" - Sir George Fistonich, Founder and Owner

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Awatere Valley