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December 5, 2017

The true story of a fish and a family and a wine business

To The Editor of The Week That Was

Last Friday you mentioned you love Fish and you love Families and we know you love Wine, we have it all in Ballandean.


You haven’t seen a good fish photo in awhile?  This little fish was caught on the Severn River in Ballandean just this week.  It was let go after a brief kiss and lives to see another day.  (Fish caught and photo taken by Granite Belt locals)


I also love being a ‘family in business’.    The pride in our history. The emotional connection to our ancestors who died before we were born, but trod the same ground every day as we do.  Equally I love that our children come to work after school every day and Nonna spoils them lasagne for afternoon tea. I have attached my favourite photo, faint as it is, of my sister Leeanne and myself in our vineyard in 1974.  No doubt our parents assured the journalist on the day that we would be taking over the winery, it was undoubtedly a hopeful dream in such early days of the Queensland Wine Industry.  Over the next 40 years, our parents Angelo and Mary Puglisi not only built an industry, but also a business and a story that we couldn’t resist being a part of.


Sometimes I love the wine industry and sometimes I don’t.  Frost and hail have taken 40% of our vineyards the last two years in a row.

Too often here in Queensland we have to defend our right to be respected in the Australian Wine Industry.   This is my family’s 84th vintage on this property and we have been open 7 days a week for 45 years catering to tens of thousands of tourists every year.  We hope each of them takes some part of our story home when they leave.

Here on the Granite Belt we are justifiably proud of our achievements.   There are five James Halliday 5 star wineries within 25 minutes of our doorstep, and along with our neighbours, we have been named as a James Halliday Top 10 Darkhorse.

It might seem that Qld is far away from the rest of the industry but my husband Ian Henderson is on the board of AGWA and my sister Leeanne Gangemi is on the Small Winemakers Committee of the WFA.  You might not find our wines across Australia, but interested somelliers seek us out and satisfied wine tourists are plentiful in our region.

Like so many other boutique wineries, we have a  great story, a great family, big hearts and a small marketing budget.   We strive hard every day to make great wine.  It’s the story we are creating that will be remembered long after the last vintage has been consumed.   It’s the story that we are creating that will ultimately convince the next generation to return and write new chapters in the Australian Wine Industry.   Lucky for iPhones, I have been taking photos of our kids in the vineyard for years…just in case.

Robyn Puglisi-Henderson, Ballandean Estate Wines @ballandeansista

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