New Zealand Winery Names Ste Michelle Wine Estates US Importer

Villa Maria Estate (Villa Maria) of New Zealand, has said that the Ste Michelle Wine Estates, a Wash

The company said that the strategic alliance includes management of US sales, marketing and communications programs, and exploration of global synergies between the two companies which could include viticulture and winemaking exchanges.

Ted Baseler, president/CEO of Ste Michelle, said: "Consumers respond to brand authenticity, and George's leadership in New Zealand and his ongoing commitment to innovation and quality initiatives are accomplishments that no other New Zealand winery can match."

Sir George Fistonich, founder of Villa Maria, said: "When we set about finding a new partner in the US, we were specifically looking for an organization with an impeccable reputation, a successful track record in developing fine wine businesses and trade relationships, and a company with the ability to deliver the American consumer broad distribution across all trade channels.

"Quality drives our decision making. So it was critical for us affiliate with a company that has a demonstrated quality focus in all areas of its business."

Villa Maria produces its wines at two winery facilities located in Auckland, the company's headquarters, and Marlborough. The company produces a range of wines from its Private Bin Range to the Cellar Selection range to its Reserve series and the Single Vineyard wines. Villa Maria is an international Sauvignon Blanc producer, along with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, among other varieties.

The company claims to have achieved Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) certification as part of a strategy to reduce its carbon footprint, apart from obtaining BioGro organic certification for the bottling facilities at Villa Maria Estate in Auckland, in 2009.