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New head of winemaking for Villa Maria group

Nick Picone has been appointed Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, after 18 years with the winery

Tuesday 9 June

Nick Picone has been appointed Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, after 18 years with the winery. The position oversees all of Villa Maria Group’s winemaking which includes: Villa Maria, Vidal Estate, Esk Valley, Te Awa Collection, Thornbury, Riverstone and Wise Owl.

With several prestigious awards to his name including an Australasian award for Young Winemaker of the Year, Nick has been responsible for making hundreds of the winery’s global trophy and medal winning wines for many years.

CEO Sir George Fistonich said he couldn’t have hoped for a more highly skilled person for the position, “He’s an extremely talented winemaker with an exceptional palate and has demonstrated a natural ability with wine right from the start of his career. Fostering talent in our industry is something I’m passionate about and I’m proud to have seen Nick develop his skills over the years working in all of our winemaking regions. Throughout our 54 year history my focus has always been on creating the highest quality wines and we’ve achieved this through selection of the best vineyard sites, but also seeking out the very best people and Nick is without a doubt one of the New Zealand wine industry’s shining stars”.

Nick brings a wealth of experience to the position. Raised in Hawkes Bay, his first wine job was at boutique producer Esk Valley Estate, from there he moved to Marlborough and then later to Auckland to oversee Villa Maria’s Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne winemaking. In 2006 he spent time working for Villa Maria’s international distributor Hatch Mansfield in the United Kingdom, followed by a vintage at GD Vajra in Barolo, Italy. He has also completed two vintages at DeLoach vineyards in California, USA.

Nick’s winemaking awards and achievements:

  • 2014 - Listed in an international selection of ’30 winemakers under 40 to watch’ by the Drinks Business UK.
  • 2013 - Awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ New Zealand International Wine Show.
  • 2012 - Awarded Wine Society Australasia ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ becoming the first New Zealander to be awarded in the competition’s 12 year history.
  • 2011 - Awarded joint winner ‘New Zealand Winemaker of the Year’ Royal Easter Wine Awards.
  • 2004 - Awarded the New Zealand Yalumba scholarship to attend the Len Evans Tutorial. There were 12 places available one of which was available to a New Zealander.

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Huge Champion Trophy Win for Villa Maria

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