Villa Maria has announced that it has found its replacement for CEO Sir George Fistonich who has had over 55 years to the helm of the New Zealand winery.

Abe Salt, who has 15 years’ experience across the wine industry, investment banking and strategic advisory, will take over as CEO on March 5, 2018, while Sir George will continue to have a hands-on role with the company as Founder and President.

“Due to Villa Maria’s success as a major player globally, my ambassador role has become extremely time consuming”, said Sir George. “As the CEO, Abe will be able to manage the important day to day operations and strategic priorities for the company.

“This will allow me to concentrate on my global brand ambassadorial role and drive other large projects such as the development of our new winery and retail centre in Hawkes Bay.”

Salt joins Villa Maria after his most recent role as Principal at Iron Gate Consulting where he focused on providing strategic advice to the wine industry.

Prior to Iron Gate Consulting, Salt spent more than five years at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) where he was Global Head of Strategy. During his time at TWE, Abe led significant transactions and implemented key strategic changes for the business.

Salt has experience in each of Villa Maria’s key export markets including the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Asia and Australia. He also has experience working with luxury brands, such as Penfolds.

Sir George added: “I am delighted that we have found someone with such a passion for wine together with a wealth of experience in FMCG global strategy.

“We are thrilled to have Abe join us for Villa Maria’s next chapter and help us build on our successes to date.”

Salt holds degrees in Law and Commerce and post-graduate qualifications in finance. He is married with two children and will relocate from Melbourne to Auckland for the role.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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