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Knight of the Whites in land of the long white cloud

By Dong Fangyu (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-26 11:12 Comments

Knight of the Whites in land of the long white cloud

The Ihumatao Vineyard shortly after planting in 2003, now home to Villa Maria's head office. [Photo/China Daily]

Ninety years ago Andrija Fistonich, a young Croatian, stepped off a ship onto the wharves in Auckland, New Zealand, after a voyage of about 20,000 kilometers lasting three months.

He was one of many Croatians who left their homeland in the years after World War I as fears of another similar conflict brewed. Some went to Australia and Chile, but Fistonich chose to sail to "the land of the long white cloud", which he had heard much about in letters from his cousins who had settled there.

What he brought with him to the country, together with other Croatian immigrants, was a culture of growing grapes in home gardens and backyards, producing wine that was consumed during family meals.

Ninety years later his son George Fistonich, 76, can proudly say that he has helped bring international renown to New Zealand wines.

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