Summer Sippers: New Zealand Villa Maria Estate

Villa Maria began its journey in 1961. At the tender age of 21, George Fistonich leased five acres of land and crafted Villa Maria’s first vintage a year later. Each wine is crafted in the unique, fruit-driven style of New Zealand, showcasing the best New Zealand has to offer.

The winery sources grapes from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay, and produces wines in modern winemaking facilities in Auckland and Marlborough.

The winery is still family owned and stands as an icon of superior quality and innovation in New Zealand winemaking.  In ’95, the winery became an accredited member of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ)—a group committed to guarantee better quality control with products that have minimal impact on the environment.

villa maria old labels

Some of Villa Maria’s old wine labels throughout their 50-year journey

In 2001, the winery became a cork-free zone and moved to a 100% screwcap initiative, and in ’17, Drinks International named Villa Maria the most admired wine brand in New Zealand and the fourth most admired in the world.

At a recent tasting, I had the pleasure to sample a lineup of wonderful Villa Maria wines with winemaker Helen Morrison, and they are great summer sippers and reasonably priced.

2016 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Bubbly, New Zealand

Tart citrus, melon and lime dominates the palate; zingy flavors finish long and strong. Pair it as an aperitif or with oysters and seafood.

Very Good | $15 | 12.5% ABV

2016 Villa Maria Rose, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Yawza! What a pretty rose—it’s layered with rose petals and peaches that playfully dance towards a long, lime finish. It’s a great summer wine to share with friends.

Excellent | $14 | 12.5% ABV

villa maria truck

2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Layered, and complex, this Sauvignon blanc has plenty of zesty lemon lime, passionfruit and fresh acidity to go around. It’s quite the crowd pleaser with quality-to-price-ratio to boot (QPR).

Excellent | $13 | 12.5% ABV

 2015 Villa Maria Taylors Pass Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand

Layered lemon and mineral notes that play feverishly atop toasty undertones. It’s a great cellaring wine and it will be interesting to see this wine evolve over the next ten years.

Excellent | $45 | 13.5% ABV

2014 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

Red fruits and spice lead to a lengthy, delightful finish. Pair it with vodka and dill cured gravlax served with capers and red onion accompanied with a biale pastry!

Very Good | $26 | 13.5% ABV

2013 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Red blend, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

A straightforward red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec with pithy pomegranate and plum notes. Pair it with a fabulous hamburger with blue cheese and onions.

Good | $20 | 13.5% ABV


About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.

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