Our Villa Maria Cellar Selection wines are perfect for celebrating any occasion, whether it be a milestone in your life or simply having your friends and family together around the dinner table. As a proudly 100% New Zealand owned company we love celebrating the achievements of our fellow kiwis. There is no better way than giving a toast to these amazing New Zealanders with your favourite glass of our iconic gold label Cellar Selection wine.
At Villa Maria we love showcasing what we do best on the world stage and at the same time celebrating our fellow kiwis who are also making their mark on the world. Undoubtedly there are some amazing achievements from Kiwis on the world stage, so narrowing down to 5 was a tough job
1. Ritchie McCaw
One of New Zealand's favourite sons, raise your glass to Ritchie McCaw. Born and raised in Otago, Ritchie made his debut for the Crusaders in 2001, in the same year he was selected for the All Blacks. This legendary All Blacks number 8, captained the All Blacks 110 times out of his 148 matches he played in the black jersey, becoming the most capped All Black in history. During his time at the helm of New Zealand’s favourite sporting team, he won World Rugby Player of the Year three times and led the All Blacks to 2 World Cup victories, 7 Tri Nations titles and 8 Bledisloe Cup wins. During his time as an All Black not only did Ritchie lead his team to a number of record breaking victories but he also ticked off some personal records. As the first All Black to reach 100 caps but he is also the first Rugby Union Player to win 100 tests. After an illustrious career, Ritchie retired in 2015 but is still celebrated as one of the greatest players to wear the black jersey.
2. Taika Waititi
Amongst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Wellington born and bred Taika Waititi is our next kiwi we want to cheers. Waititi is flying the kiwi flag high and is recognized as one of New Zealand’s most successful film producers. Starting his career as an actor and comedian, Waititi won the coveted Billy T James award in 1999 alongside Jermaine Clement with who he eventually went on to direct and write some episodes of the award winning Flights of the Conchords with. In that same year, he made his directing debut with the film Scarfies. Continuing to direct and produce local films, in 2004 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his film Two Cars, One Night. In 2016 his film Hunt for the Wilderpeople that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival took the title as the highest grossing New Zealand film in history and still holds that title today. Since then Waititi has directed box office hits such as Avengers and recently signed on to direct the third installment of Thor.
In recognition of his remarkable achievements, Taika Waititi was named New Zealander of the Year in 2017.
3. Peter Beck
Hailing from Invercargill, we are raising our next glass in honour of New Zealand engineer Peter Beck, the visionary founder of kiwi based aerospace manufacturer and smallsat service provider Rocket Lab. With an interest in machines as a child, one of Becks first projects was turbo charging a mini. After leaving school, Beck honed his engineering skills and fascination with machinery before launching Rocket Lab in 2006. By 2009, Rocket Lab became the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space.
In 2019, launching from New Zealands Mahi Peninsula, Rocketlab had successfully reached orbit using a 2 stage liquid fueled electron, since then, several similar successful missions had been completed. As the founder of Rocket Lab, Becks vision is to use Rocket Lab to better understand and manage our own planet, some of the key clients are traditional players such as NASA in addition to environmentally focused companies conducting scientific research, monitoring climate change and providing earth imaging services. Inspiring a young generation of kiwis into infinity and beyond, we will cheers to that!
4. Peter Jackson
As one of New Zealands most successful filmwrters, Directors and Screenwriters it is no surprise that we are raising our glass to Peter Jackson. Famously known for his work on the Tolkein films The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy, Jackson first started his career in Wellington.
Inspired by Thunderbirds and Monty Python as a child, Jackson was gifted a super 8 cine camera with which he first started to make films with his friends. Ambitious even at a young age, Jackson tried to remake one of his favorite films, King Kong at 9 years old using a series of motion models. Jackson has no formal training in editing, film making or special effects but taught himself whilst working as an photo engraver at The Evening Post in Wellington. His first feature film was Bad Taste, which he made at 18 before his 2 big feature films Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners were released in 1994 and 1996. It was during this time that Jackson started his now famous special effects production company Weta Workshop.
In 1997 Jackson won the rights to Tolkeins epic Lord of the Rings and the trilogy was met with huge success including winning 11 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
Jackson has his own production company Wignut Films and has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit before he was later knighted in 2010.
5. Sir Peter Blake
A New Zealand yachtsman born and raised in Auckland as one of New Zealands most beloved sportsmen and philanthropist we save our biggest cheers for Sir Peter Blake. Famous for his sailing success and philanthropic endeavours, Sir Peter was awarded an OBE. Blake sailed the first ever Whitbread Round the World Race in 1974 and won his first Whitbread in 1990 as skipper on Steinlarger 2 in an unprecedented victory of overall honours of all 6 legs of the race.
Blake is most famously known and loved by kiwis for his sailing success in the Americas Cup. Blakes first Americas Cup was in 1992 where he lead his team to the Challenger Finals. In 1995 Blake was back as syndicate head of Team New Zealand, in his most iconic challenge for the cup this was the year of Black Magic and the Lucky Red Socks. In 2000 Blake defended the cup.
In addition to his Americas Cup success Blake became Head of Expeditions for Antarctic Explorer, later renamed Seamaster, leading expeditions to Antarctica and the Amazon in 2001. In the same year Blake was named special envoy for the UN Environmental Program.
Today Blake’s environmental and leadership legacy, is continued by the Sir Peter Blake Trust.