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.
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.
George Fistonich leased five acres of his father and started with just an acre of vines
Villa Maria produces first vintage.
Our Wine Club was established to educate consumers in wine & food matching.
Villa Maria employed first staff.
Villa Maria instigates first grape grower bonus- based on quality - not on quantity.
International wine exports commenced.
Villa Maria becomes an accredited Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) member.
Villa Maria opens Marlborough winery.
Villa Maria moves to become a cork-free zone – switching to 100% screwcaps.
Villa Maria opens Auckland winery & vineyard park.
George Fistonich receives country's first knighthood for services to the wine industry.
Villa Maria celebrates 50 years of exceptional winemaking.
Named Wine Company of the Year at the NZ International Wine Show.
Villa Maria nominated 4th in World's 50 Most Admired Wine Brands by Drinks International UK.
Named Most Trusted Wine Brand in NZ - Reader's Digest.
George Fistonich inducted to Restaurant and Hospitality Hall of Fame.
Villa Maria opens new winery in Hawkes Bay.
Vintage is launched - a feature-length documentary following the all-consuming harvest period
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