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Karen Fistonich

Karen is the Chairperson of Villa Maria and has served on the Board of Directors for nearly 20 years - becoming Chair in 2006 - following a successful career in international banking with ANZ.

Karen started to show an interest in the family business as a teenager and worked in the Villa Maria wine shop whilst studying towards her Bachelor of Arts Degree (Psychology) at the University of Auckland. Being born into a Croatian family, wine has been in her blood from a young age. 

During her mid 20's, Karen spent a vintage in Bordeaux picking grapes at châteaux owned and managed vineyards from the renowned French wine merchants, Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix.

Karen was involved in the establishment of two specialist vineyard companies in 1992 and 1998, and the development of Villa Maria's Auckland winery, which opened in 2005.

With Villa Maria being a long time sponsor of the Auckland Theatre Company, Karen joined their Board in 2011 to help support their efforts to secure a permanent home on the Waterfront.

In 2011 Karen also joined the Board of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand’s economic development agency and is proud to be contributing to their efforts to support businesses seeking to grow internationally.

She is also a member of the New Zealand Global Women network, which encourages women into senior leadership roles.

Karen is married to Milan Brajkovich, Vineyard Director at Kumeu River Wines. They live on the Kumeu River Vineyard with their two children, Matthew and Anna.