Fistonich purchase “a dream come true”

Villa Maria Estate owner Sir George Fistonich has bought Te Awa Winery and its vineyard, bolstering his position as the largest vineyard owner in Gimblett Gravels.

Sir George Fistonich

Currently completing the final stages of the acquisition, the move will help Villa Maria to meet “increasing demand”, particularly for its Hawkes Bay Syrah, Merlot and Malbec wines, from both Asian and more established markets.

However, the company is understood to be keeping Te Awa as a separately run boutique operation, rather than merging its grapes into the Villa Maria production.

“It’s a dream come true!” said Fistonich, who is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of Villa Maria and earlier this year was named Man of the Year at The Drinks Business Awards 2012. “I feel very fortunate to have been given this great opportunity to purchase 250 acres of unique red wine country that adjoins our existing Gimblett Gravels holdings.”

Te Awa was established in 1992 by the Lawson Family, but has been owned since 2002 by the New York businessman and philanthropist Julian Robertson, who also owns Dry River Winery in Martinborough.

The Te Awa purchase includes Kidnapper Cliffs winery, which shares its branding with the Robertson-owned luxury lodge and golf course on this parcel of the Te Awa vineyards at the southern top of  Hawkes Bay.

Commenting on the sale, Robertson said: “I am a great admirer of Sir George Fistonich and am delighted that Te Awa and Kidnapper Cliffs wines will be a part of Villa Maria. The vineyard and grapes will be in far more capable hands than mine.”

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