One of New Zealand’s largest wineries, Villa Maria, has purchased the vineyard and winery assets of Te Awa Winery in Hawkes Bay. The deal, which includes 250 acres of land with 130 acres planted to grapes, makes Villa Maria the largest vineyard owner in the Gimblett Gravels subregion of Hawkes Bay. “It’s a dream come true!” said Villa Maria founder Sir George Fistonich in a statement. The sale price was not disclosed.
Villa Maria is purchasing Te Awa from Julian Robertson, who also owns three luxury resorts in New Zealand, including Cape Kidnappers Lodge and Golf Course in Hawkes Bay. Te Awa’s Hawkes Bay Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Bordeaux-style blends are exported to the United States, but a second label of limited-production wines called Kidnapper Cliffs, has not been.
"[We intend to] maintain Te Awa Winery as an autonomous boutique operation to preserve both the heritage and quality of these wines going forward," said Fabian Yukich, Villa Maria’s executive director. "The rights to the names Te Awa and Kidnappers Cliffs as well as their subsidiary brands are included in the purchase.” Yukich declined to say whether current Te Awa winemaker Ant Mackenzie will remain with the company.
Yukich cited emerging Asian markets as one of the reasons to expand their holdings. Villa Maria’s New Zealand portfolio also includes Marlborough producer Thornbury Winery, and Esk Valley and Vidal Estate, both in Hawkes Bay.
Fistonich founded Villa Maria in 1961, and the winery remains family-owned. The company owns vineyards in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough and makes a full range of wines. It's perhaps best known for its Private Bin series, which is widely available in the United States and offers value Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Riesling for about $15 a bottle. Their Cellar Selection and Reserve wines regularly score 90 points or higher (outstanding on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale).
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