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90 Years of Winemaking for Babich

20 June 2006

Excellence through Experience – 90 Years of Winemaking for Babich

Babich Brothers circa 1918 (L to R) Jakov, Mate, Ivan, Stipan and Josip Babich. (The first wine produced was bottled under the name Babich Brothers).


The managing director of Babich Wines, one of the country’s largest family owned wineries, believes there will be further rationalisation of the wine industry as more New Zealand wineries become the target for overseas liquor companies.

However, as Babich Wines celebrates 90 years of winemaking this year, Joe Babich is adamant his company will not be moving away from being a family owned and run winery.

“Winemaking is in the bloodstream and a way of life for us. Some of my earliest memories are playing hide and seek among wine barrels as a young boy with my brother, sisters and cousins. Today, at the age of 65, I still have as much enthusiasm for producing wine as ever before.”

In 1916 when New Zealand’s wine industry was in its infancy, a Dalmatian immigrant by the name of Josip Babich produced his first wine. Ninety years later, with Josip’s sons Peter and Joe and grandson David at the helm, Babich Wines is a well-recognised global brand exporting over 90% of its finely crafted wines to 25 countries around the world.

“Our winemaking philosophy is to have the right vineyards, in the right regions on superior sites, and getting the right varieties on those superior sites,” said Joe Babich. “While this may sound fairly logical, it is an evolving process that has taken almost a century of winemaking.”

Although Babich Wines’ headquarters and high-tech winery remain at the original West Auckland site, Babich also has shares in a Marlborough wine-making facility and owns a number of vineyards around the country strategically placed to get the best out of each variety.

They were one of the first companies to discover the now famous wine making region of Gimblett Gravels in the Hawkes Bay. Babich Wines’ 1985 Irongate Chardonnay, from the Gimblett Gravels region, caused a stir in New Zealand’s wine industry and attracted attention from as far away as the UK - very rare for a New Zealand wine at the time. In fact, Babich Irongate wines were at the forefront of a revolution that helped put New Zealand on the world's wine map.

Today the Babich name has far exceeded founder Josip Babich’s original dreams when he first planted grapes as a young man at the beginning of last century. And with the next generation of Babich’s at the helm the business continues to grow and thrive.


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