Rosé is the wine synonymous with summer. It's crisp, light, easy, and an ideal refreshing beverage when served chilled. If you're like me, you already know all this and make rosé a go-to wine varietal starting in March and sip on it all the way through September. If you're also like me, you probably shoot in the dark and/or stick to familiar labels when buying said wine. I'm not a wine expert (by any stretch) so I tend to go off price, packaging, suggestions, and luck when buying. That being said, I love tasting and trying wines from vineyards and regions that are new to my tastebuds. Even with my inexperienced palate I know what I like and adding new names to my list of "wineries I like" is always exciting.
This summer I've gone international - as far as wines go - and have been loving everything bottled by Villa Maria Estate. While it's New Zealand's most awarded winery, the brand is less well known in the US even though many of the estate's varietals can be found state side. I'm so glad I recently discovered Villa Maria because the wines are beyond delicious and wallet friendly. And when you're stocking your fridge with rosé for the summer, both those factors become very important!
What I love about wine is that it's an "open and enjoy" drink. No mixing or extra ingredients or fuss - just chilling, pouring, and sipping. My favorite spot to twist open a bottle of Villa Maria (no corks, yes please!) is among friends and family at my place or theirs. The comfort of a home allows us to get comfortable and occasionally be creative. A picnic on the porch has become a fun outdoor hangout spot for happy hours. We keep things simple...wine, some snacks, music, and spots for lounging.
Opening a bottle of Villa Maria wine is kind of like opening another world. I’ve never been to New Zealand but drinking Villa Maria – and subsequently learning more about the values and heritage that serve as the foundation for their wines – makes me feel like I’m getting a taste of the country. For anyone geographically challenged (me), New Zealand is a country that sits in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, south east of Australia. Though the New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine the moderate marine climate, rich soil, and entrepreneurial spirit of the country has contributed to wineries like Villa Maria being able to thrive.
Being the nerd I am, I loved learning that Villa Maria was started in 1961 by a solo founder – Sir George Fistonich – and over five decades later he’s still the driving force behind the wine and their core values of innovation, sustainability, and family. You’d think that an estate like Villa Maria boasting a title of most awarded wines in New Zealand would make their culture more corporate and less soulful but the opposite is true for them. While the quality of their wines ranks as their primary goal, they credit their incredible wines to the people who help them produce the wines and share their passion for excellence. Sir George may have only been 21 when he started Villa Maria but his youthful ambition and excitement is what’s made the company the continued success it is today.
So yes, the Villa Maria wines are exceptional. I wish I could serve you up a sampling through this blog so you could immediately taste some of the varietals if you haven’t yet. But…you’re just going to have to find local retailers and restaurants near you to do so! Don’t worry, Villa Maria has a super helpful “where to buy” tab on their site which makes this part easy peasy.
If you’re not sure what Villa Maria varietal to try first you can of course read all about the tasting notes, vineyard climate, processing, and other facts for each wine on the website right here. I highly suggest the Private Bin Rosé (it’s has a great fruit flavor but doesn’t have a sweet taste), the Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (Villa Maria’s most popular wine – it’s so crisp) and the Private Bin Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc (seriously incredible, same crisp factor as the flat version but made even more fresh and vibrant with the bubbles). The Private Bin collection wines are designed to be approachable, consistent and excellent value and can attest to all of these points…and add that they are all delicious!
Now that you know a little bit more about the company, my hope is that the next time your browsing the wine aisles of your local store or scanning a wine list while at a restaurant that Villa Maria’s New Zealand varietals stand out from the other options!