From a one-man band to a global brand in just 50 years. In 1961, at just 21 years of age, George leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland and started off with just an acre of vines. He harvested his first grapes in 1962 and made his first wine under the name Villa Maria. Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band, with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture. He made dy red and white wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Auckland regions. In the early 1970s he started to employ staff and the company began to expand rapidly. Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide. George Fistonich has spent five decades at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry that he helped develop. As an icon of the New Zealand wine industry, we are known for bold and industry-changing moves such as moving to 100% screwcap through to the emphasis on sustainable practices in every area of the family owned company.