Legendary wine entrepreneur, Sir George Fistonich is still in the job of making wine despite the sale of his former time-honoured company, Villa Maria to Indevin in 2021.
Working with established winemakers and viticulturists, he has launched Čuvar Winery with the aim of preserving and nurturing the essence of New Zealand fine wine.
With the name, Čuvar, (pronounced chu-var) translating to ‘guardian’ in Croatian, the brand pays homage to the Croatian wine and viticultural pioneers who helped shape New Zealand’s wine story. It features two wine collections, the Iris and the Guardians Collection.
Visually Čuvar is represented by Croatia’s national flower, the Iris, Sir George says.
“The heart of the Iris is depicted in our logo and reflects our commitment to circular principles – the guardianship of people, the planet and holistic prosperity.”
“Our Guardians Collection is inspired by traditional Croatian tattoos. Bespoke designs depict the ‘Kolo’, a Croatian village dance and are also inspired by New Zealand native plants, a nod to our commitment to collective kaitiakitanga.”
The home of Čuvar Winery will be in Hawkes Bay beside the terraced vines Sir George himself planted three decades ago (formerly Esk Valley Winery). It sits under the company name, Fistonich Family Vineyards, which Sir George founded in 2021.
While the site is not yet open to the public, it will include a winery restaurant with the view of featuring spacious, sun-drenched patios overlooking terraced vines and the Pacific Ocean.
Available to host weddings and corporate events Sir George says there are plans to build walking and cycle tracks around the site. Opening dates are expected to be forthcoming in 2024.