Winemaker Joe Babich celebrates Royal honour
Veteran winemaker Joe Babich, who has played a vital part in the establishment of Babich Wines in Marlborough, has been presented his New Year's Honour.
Babich attended a ceremony at Government House in Auckland on Wednesday where he was formerly appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the wine industry.
He was presented it by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Babich, a third-generation Babich who joined the company in 1968, was recognised after almost 50 years in the business.
Babich plays the role of managing director. He has been a wine judge for more than 35 years and supplies wine throughout the world.
In January, Babich said none of his success had come overnight, it took decades of hard work and perseverance.
"I've been doing it for a long time and to be honoured for something you love doing is great."
Babich was quick to say the award reflected not only on him but the other members of his family who were involved in the industry.
"This is not just for myself but for my family."
The business was founded in 1916 by his father Josip Babich, who was originally from Dalmatia (now part of Croatia).
"My father spent a long time in the Viticulture Association and my brother [Peter] spent 30 years doing the same thing.
"I've got a passion for the New Zealand wine industry. I've been doing it for a long time."
Babich also contributes to his community, assisting the Waitemata Rugby Club and the Henderson High School Foundation, which he helped establish.
Since the 1970s, Babich Wines has received numerous awards, including being named among the "Top 50 World's Most Admired Wine Brands" by Drinks International magazine in 2012.
Babich Wines supplies New Zealand and 35 other countries, with vineyards in Auckland, Marlborough and Hawke's Bay.
The company has 300 hectares of vines in the Wairau, Waihopai and Awatere valleys in Marlborough, as well as a 4500-tonne winery.
The company is celebrating its 100th vintage this year.