Villa Maria Estate Launches New Zealand’s First Wine-based Seltzer
New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria Estate, owners of the Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Leftfield, Vidal and Thornbury brands, is launching the country’s first wine-based seltzer – LF Wine Seltzers.
The iconic wine business founded in 1961 will launch LF Seltzer later this month, a product crafted using its premium Leftfield wines, sparkling water and locally-sourced natural botanicals in three flavours - Yuzu, Mint & Cucumber with Sauvignon Blanc, Pear & Ginger with Pinot Gris and Strawberry & Hibiscus with Rosé.
The move comes amidst a serious shake up of the RTD category which continues to expand in line with the booming global seltzer market.
According to local Nielsen data, RTDs currently hold the second highest share of liquor after beer and the category is growing at more than double the rate - accounting for 27 per cent of all alcohol sales and mainly stealing its share from beer. 
Villa Maria’s Head of Marketing and Communications, Sarah Szegota, says the development of LF Seltzer is led by the consumer demand for natural, low-sugar and low-calorie drinks that still have a 4% to 6% ABV.
“More and more consumers are seeking lighter drinking choices, but rather than simply creating another ‘me too’ product it was hugely important for us to craft something beyond the status quo.
“By working closely with our Leftfield winemaker Richard Painter we’ve developed a seltzer that offers an elevated taste experience, so drinkers get both our internationally celebrated wines with sparkling water and delicious, natural flavours all sourced from New Zealand,” says Szegota.
With health-conscious Millennials reducing their sugar intake and embracing moderation, the company has produced its canned seltzer with just 68 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar per serve, positioning the drink as for those who want some balance with their beverage.
Szegota says Villa Maria’s focus will continue to be its popular wine brands, however innovation is key to stay competitive. “Demand for our wines remain strong - we are shipping 13% more cases than expected this year – but as the market evolves it’s important that we evolve with it.
“The team are always striving for innovation and are known for making bold, industry-changing moves. LF Seltzer is an embodiment of that ethos – a Kiwi first that we’re looking forward to launching into Australia, the US and beyond.
LF Seltzer will be available locally in liquor outlets and selected on-premise sites from October 26th, with plans to roll it out internationally from early 2021.
“There are very few wine-based seltzers overseas but, notwithstanding that, we’re confident LF Seltzer will compete with the traditional spirit-based options because of its unique proposition and genuinely exceptional taste,” says Szegota.
“To say that we’re proud of this product would be an understatement - we’re thrilled to finally share it with the world.”
 Source: Nielsen ScanTrack | MAT (moving annual total) to 19.01.20