100% family and New Zealand owned wine producer Villa Maria began the process of embedding sustainable practices from vine to bottle many years ago – long before the topic became top of mind for consumers. In 2012, our long-standing efforts in the field were rewarded by government and industry organisations when the company received the prestigious Supreme Green Ribbon Award at Parliament for its contribution to protecting the environment as well as being named New Zealands most sustainable business winning the supreme prize at the New Zealand Sustainable Business Network Awards. As a family business, Villa Maria is especially passionate about ensuring the protection of our land, resources, and environment for the next generation.
And the whole family definitely walks the talk.
Founder and owner Sir George Fistonich is a founding member of Pure Advantage. This is a group of top business leaders who encourage New Zealand businesses to focus on clean-tech and green technology to enhance New Zealand’s reputation and economic performance.
Daughter Karen Fistonich, Chairperson of the Board, joins her father in being a firm supporter of the company’s sustainability initiatives, and stresses the importance of preserving the environment so that her children can have the same memories of playing in green spaces as she had. She also notes the importance of being ‘green’ in the process of continuing to make award winning wines; “My father and I are very aware that what ultimately ends up in the bottle is affected by the care we take in the vineyard”.
Nephew Fabian Yukich is Villa Maria’s Executive Director and Sustainability Champion, and is totally committed to the cause. In 2010 Fabian won the New Zealand Sustainability Champion Award at the Sustainable Business Network Awards. Fabian oversees sustainability initiatives at Villa Maria, and acts as a key driver for continuous improvement. He also sits on the Sustainability Committee of New Zealand Winegrowers to promote sustainability within the wine industry.
Villa Maria strives to improve its processes and practices year on year. Rather than getting excited about what they have already done, staff are constantly looking for opportunities for improvement, which will then be assessed for viability by senior leaders within the organisation. It’s all about looking to the future, and seeing what more can be done to ensure the vineyards continue producing amazing wine for many more years.
‘To be successful you have to have the ability to think long time. A family winery is an intergenerational business and has the ability to do exactly that’, Yukich states, adding that the numerous sustainability initiatives the company is running were never done for recognition.