Villa Maria Estate, New Zealand's largest privately owned wine company, has declared that from the 2004 vintage it will be turning down orders rather than supply wines sealed under cork.

In a release George Fistonich, owner and managing director said for quality reasons alone, Villa Maria wines, for all world markets, will now be sealed only under Stelvin screwcaps.

"We are 100 per cent committed to the quality that the use of screwcap closures guarantees," said Fistonich.  "To achieve this, Villa Maria has had to inform distributors in some markets - who in the past had ordered cork closures - that it is screwcaps or nothing.  France was one of those markets.  This may seem a little harsh, but no other industry in the world accepts the type of product failure experienced using cork. This is not just from cork taint, but also from oxidation."

He continued: "Villa Maria's more traditional export markets are in strong growth, which suggests that by consistently delivering quality in the finished product, screwcaps have won the confidence of wine lovers world wide.  Screwcaps are swiftly gaining worldwide acceptance, with many other major companies from Australia, the USA and France following Villa Maria's lead."