On a recent trip to New Zealand, we had the fortune to spend time at the country’s most-awarded winery, Villa Maria. Thanks to our host, talented and knowledgeable winemaker Kathrin (Kat) Jankowiec, we tasted many amazing wines at the Cellar Door in Marlborough. Of note, we have enjoyed Villa Maria’s popular wines many times in the past. This made our experience in New Zealand even more exciting and memorable.
Villa Maria crafts excellent wine at affordable prices. Wines from 28 grape varieties are exported to more than 60 countries. Many are widely available in the United States, and we strongly recommend you try them.
On a local note, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is a distribution partner for Villa Maria.
Villa Maria Wine Regions, Varieties and Cellar Doors
We visited Villa Maria’s Cellar Door in Marlborough, which is located on the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Another Cellar Door is located in Auckland on North Island. Villa Maria has several vineyards in the wine regions of Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Auckland and Gisborne.
The different terroir brings special characteristics to Villa Maria’s numerous varieties. These include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Albariño, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In addition, sustainability and environmental responsibility are core drivers for Villa Maria’s owner and founder Sir George Fistonich. “As a family company, the desire to leave something for the next generation is an ever-present and overriding business objective.”
Sir George Fistonich and Award-Winning Wines
Founded by Sir George in1961, Villa Maria won awards with his first vintage at the 1963 Royal Easter Show. This set the stage for future successes.
Since the early 1980s, Villa Maria has been New Zealand’s most-awarded winery, generating recognition at both national and international competitions. Furthermore, in 2017, Drinks International named Villa Maria the most-admired wine brand in New Zealand and the fourth-most admired in the world.
In 2004, UK Wine International Magazine shortlisted Sir George as one of the 50 most-prominent figures in the wine industry. And the following year, Ernst & Young named him New Zealand’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He also was inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame. Once you taste Villa Maria wines, you will understand these well-deserved accolades for both Sir George and the winery.
During our visit, Kat started pouring wines for us inside the beautiful tasting room at the Cellar Door. But the warm end-of-summer day beckoned us outside, where Kat continued to share stories about the winery and the nine delicious, sustainable wines on the table.
Ranging in price from $16-$43, we tasted Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rosé, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their Single Vineyard label and Cellar Selection. Six of the wines are available in the U.S., but, we also had the opportunity to try some wines only available in New Zealand.
For details of the stellar wines we tasted, see Part 2 in this series.
Thank you Kat, and Villa Maria, for the amazing experience.
Margot and Dave