Villa’s new winery in the Bay

The main purpose of the evening was to try some Villa Maria wines from Sir George’s (pictured) cellar. (Photo: Supplied)

When Villa Maria purchased the Te Awa winery in Hawke’s Bay there was speculation that it might become the new site for the company’s Hawke’s Bay winemaking operation. For once the rumour was right. Villa Maria has begun construction of a 10,000-tonne winery which will become the new home for Vidal, Esk Valley and Villa Maria’s Hawke’s Bay wines.

Vidal’s current home in Hastings is now surrounded by housing – not an ideal situation for a very active winery. It will be auctioned, says Villa Maria CEO Sir George Fistonich.

“We hope it will be bought by someone who sees the potential to develop a restaurant/function room and even a small winery from the site.”

Esk Valley’s hillside winery with adjacent “The Terraces” vineyard will not be sold but will be decommissioned as a winery and maintained as a wine shop as well as being used for functions. The vineyard will continue to produce Esk’s flagship red wine.

I was glad to learn that the Te Awa restaurant will be enlarged and developed – it is one of the best winery eateries in the Bay. A limited menu will be offered while it undergoes refurbishment.

Sir George explained that the new winery will have separate winemaking facilities for each of the company’s brands. Esk Valley winemaker Gordon Russell is a big fan of open-top concrete vats, for example, and these will be constructed to help him maintain existing wine styles. Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Vidal and Te Awa will all share crushing and grape-sorting equipment but fermentation and wine maturation for each brand will be housed separately.

A new cellar door will become a “House of Fine Wine”, offering all the wines for sale but keeping each brand in separate sections.

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