Established in 1961 Villa Maria is one of the largest New Zealand wineries with an annual production in the region of 500 000 cases. Wines are made from fruit grown in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. Three tiers of wine are made, beginning with the affordable Private Bin range, and progressing through the Cellar Selection range to the high-end Reserve range. Quality is very high across the board. I’m particularly keen on what Villa Maria are doing with Pinot Noir. Most of the Pinot Noir vines are the high quality Dijon clones, and all grapes are hand-picked from low-yielding vines. In the winery open fermenters with hand plunging are employed, and the results are impressive.