The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

New head of winemaking for Villa Maria Group

Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, Nick Picone

Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, Nick Picone

Nick Picone has been appointed Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, after 18 years with the winery. The position oversees all of Villa Maria Group’s winemaking which includes: Villa Maria, Vidal Estate, Esk Valley, Te Awa Collection, Thornbury, Riverstone and Wise Owl.

With several prestigious awards to his name including an Australasian award for Young Winemaker of the Year, Picone has been responsible for making hundreds of the winery’s global trophy and medal-winning wines for many years.

Villa Maria CEO, Sir George Fistonich said he couldn’t have hoped for a more highly skilled person for the position, “He’s an extremely talented winemaker with an exceptional palate and has demonstrated a natural ability with wine right from the start of his career. Fostering talent in our industry is something I’m passionate about and I’m proud to have seen Nick develop his skills over the years working in all of our winemaking regions. Throughout our 54-year history my focus has always been on creating the highest quality wines and we’ve achieved this through selection of the best vineyard sites, but also seeking out the very best people and Nick is without a doubt one of the New Zealand wine industry’s shining stars”.

Picone brings a wealth of experience to the position. Raised in Hawkes Bay, his first wine job was at boutique producer Esk Valley Estate, from there he moved to Marlborough and then later to Auckland to oversee Villa Maria’s Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne winemaking. In 2006 he spent time working for Villa Maria’s international distributor Hatch Mansfield in the UK, followed by a vintage at GD Vajra in Barolo, Italy. He has also completed two vintages at DeLoach vineyards in California, USA.

In 2014, Picone was listed in an international selection of ’30 winemakers under 40 to watch’ by Drinks Business UK and in 2013 he was awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at the New Zealand International Wine Show, to name just a few of his accolades.