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One of the most talented and respected winemakers in the country who's been in the business since 1958 - Joe Babich, Managing Director of Babich Wines, is a New Zealand wine legend.
His wines helped establish what are now benchmark styles for which his homeland has become famous - such as his beautiful Sauvignon Blanc - and over the course of his 35+ vintages as a winemaker, he continues to strive for nothing but the best.
When Joe joined the family business, Babich Wines was not the outfit it is today, producing fortified wines and a handful of generic whites and reds. With his older brother Peter, Joe set about modernising the equipment, the techniques - and the mentality of the winery.
A huge influence came from Joe visiting Europe's wine regions. Three years after his initial visit, he was producing the winery's flagship Irongate label, homage to the great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy but in an irresistibly New Zealand style - thanks to Joe's uncanny know-how for picking optimum sites.
Joe kept Irongate secret from his family and colleagues until the finished article was ready... then the awards came flooding in!
Ever keen to expand his know-how and portfolio, Joe developed the business beyond his Auckland wineries, setting up stall in Hawke's Bay and the promised land of New Zealand Sauvignon, Marlborough. The company also sources fruit from Gisborne, as well as Pinot Noir from Central Otago.
Joe was also a formidable wine judge for 35 years, and before his retirement to concentrate on his passion for winemaking, he had chaired the judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards on six occasions.
In 1996, Joe took on the role of Babich Wines' Managing Director as well as Director of Winemaking. This saw him maintain a strategic role in the winemaking, with the help of a dedicated winemaker and winemaking team.
Under the helm of Joe and Peter Babich, the company has become one of New Zealand's leading wineries, producing a range of wines that are sold in more than 30 countries around the globe.