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Villa Maria hands top winemaking role to Picone

Published:  10 June, 2015

New Zealand wine producer Villa Maria has promoted Nick Picone to the role of group chief winemaker.

The appointment comes a week after the company announced that its general manager for winemaking Alastair Maling MW would leave at the end of this month to join rival New Zealand producer Foley Family Wines.

Picone has been with Villa Maria for 18 years, in which time he has named Young Winemaker of the Year for Australasia and made "hundreds" of the producer's trophy and medal winning wines, said the company.

Chief executive George Fistonich described Picone as "a talented winemaker with an exceptional palate".

He added: "Throughout our 54-year history my focus has always been on creating the highest quality wines and we've achieved this through the 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."

In his new role Picone will be responsible for all the Villa Maria group's winemaking including Esk Valley, Vidal Estate, Te Awa Collection and Thornbury.

Picone's first job in the industry was with Esk Valley. In 2006, he spent time in the UK with Vila Maria's agent Hatch Mansfield and has also worked vintages in Italy and California.