Villa Maria founder and owner Sir George Fistonich was last night inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame, recognising his significant contribution to the economic and social development of New Zealand through enterprise.
Since he began the Villa Maria wine company over 50 years ago, Sir George has helped shape a wine industry now worth $1.2billion in annual exports to the NZ economy.
Over the years George has been honoured for his work, some of the most notable include:
- In 2004 he was shortlisted as one of the 50 most prominent figures in the wine industry by Wine International Magazine, he was named as 2004 National Business Review "New Zealander of the Year" and voted one of the "Top Ten New Zealanders" in the NZ Herald.
- in 2005 he was named New Zealand's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
- In 2009, he received a knighthood for his services to the New Zealand wine industry.
- In 2011 Sir George received a Kea 'World Class New Zealander' Award in the Manufacturing, Design & Innovation category. He was inducted to the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame for services to the New Zealand wine industry and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Wine Challenge Awards.
- In 2012 George was honoured with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal at the 59th Royal Easter Show Wine Awards for his achievements in the New Zealand wine industry.
Sir George commented on this latest recognition: "I'm honoured to join this group of prestigious New Zealand business personalities. When I started out in 1961 my ambition was to make really exceptional wine - which remains a focus - but along the way I also realised New Zealand has a unique way of taking our businesses to the world, you only need to glance at the list of past laureates to see a theme of dedication to absolute quality being key to success".
George was presented with his citation at the Business Hall of Fame gala dinner last night by His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor General of New Zealand and Patron of the Young Enterprise Trust.
Established in 1994 by the Young Enterprise Trust, the Fairfax Media New Zealand Business Hall of Fame recognises and celebrates individuals who, through enterprise, have made a significant contribution to the economic and social development of New Zealand.