Villa Maria, New Zealand's third largest wine company, is looking for a new chief executive to succeed the company's founder, George Fistonich.

It is thought that Fistonich's replacement will assume operational responsibilities, with Fistonich, who is 63, taking on the role of executive chairman.

The company is looking internationally and Fistonich said the appointment would take a few months to finalise. "There is quite a requirement in the wine industry now to travel to keep in touch with agents overseas," Fistonich said. "They like to see owner-winemakers or proprietors. I believe the time is right in the long-term interest of the company to bring in new blood to fulfil the role of a CEO."