MJ Loza has been appointed CEO of the New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre (NZWRC) Ltd in Blenheim.

Loza will be at the helm as NZWRC moves from start-up phase to delivering on its mandate to carry out world-leading research on grape growing and wine production.

The NZWRC is receiving $12.5m in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over four years.

NZWRC Board chair Mark Gilbert said Loza is a perfect fit in the role.

“He has a breadth of experience in the industry, having held senior positions in international wine businesses and having an outstanding understanding of the grape growing and wine making process.

“He will lead NZWRC with vision to the benefit of the entire New Zealand wine industry.”

Loza said much of his career has been at the interface between science and commercialisation, and he’s excited to utilise this knowledge and experience for the wine industry.

Beginning his career as a solicitor, he went on to hold senior positions with Deer Industry New Zealand and Fonterra.

He has been general manager for Accolade Wines in both New Zealand and North America, CEO to Mud House Wine Group (before the sale to Accolade Wines) and general manager for Seresin Estate.

Most recently Loza has been general manager for Putake Honey in Marlborough.

New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre (NZWRC) is run as a limited liability company, owned by New Zealand Winegrowers Inc.

Although the centre is based in Marlborough, research will be national in focus.