While the name George Fistonich may be new to you, his creation and lifelong passion will not be.
You see Sir George is the creator, owner and MD of the Villa Maria Estate, whose wines are among the most popular ever sold at Wetherspoon. A perennial favourite of yours is Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc.
Sir George was in London this week to join an exclusive group of winemakers to have received the International Wine Challenge’s highest honour – a Lifetime Achievement Award. Incidentally, last year’s winner is another name which will be familiar to Wetherspoon customers - Miguel Torres, of Bodegas Torres.
The IWC Awards are the world’s most prestigious and influential wine awards – so to receive the highest honour is testament indeed to the recipient’s contribution to wine.
Sir George’s story is long and interesting. Starting his business in New Zealand in 1961 with half a hectare of vines, George would sell his wine at the family farm gate and soon gained many fans and admirers, picking up his first award in 1962.
Sir George’s passion for quality wine has always been matched by his passion for people and his community. This passion has seen Villa Maria win plaudits for its wine the world over, and has seen George knighted for his services to the New Zealand wine industry.
Today Sir George’s vineyard - still family owned - sells its wine in over 50 countries and has introduced many industry firsts in the pursuit of quality and excellence.
We join the IWC in wishing Sir George well and congratulating him on some very fine wines.
Incidentally look out for another of Sir George’s wines, Villa Maria Pinot Noir, which is available in a number of our pubs.