Villa Maria Estate is New Zealand’s best medium-plus size winery. The quality of its wines is extraordinarily good, and extraordinarily consistent. But some time ago (I’m not exactly sure when) its vineyards were sold to an entity called Terra Vitae Vineyards but with an exclusive supply agreement to Villa Maria. For a while it looked like a win-win situation. Now Terra Vitae has racked up successive losses of NZ$3.1 million for the ‘08/’09 year, and NZ$4.5 million for the ‘09/’10 year. It is looking at a third straight loss in the current financial year, and facing an uncertain future amid a deeper downturn in the wine sector than ever envisaged.