Decisions: The founder of Villa Maria sells 750,000 cases of wine a year, but success hasn't come easy

Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the New Zealand winemaker Villa Maria Estate, explains his best decisions in business...and his worst.

by Elizabeth Anderson


Changing careers

One of my best decisions was to change careers and go into winemaking, aged 21. As the second son of Croatian immigrants, I was expected to learn a trade. I became a carpenter and joiner, but I found the building trade restrictive. I leased five acres of land in Auckland from my parents and half an acre of grapes. I knew the basics of winemaking and bought all the equipment for $3,000 from an ex-RAF pilot.

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