In 1924, Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli immigrated to Australia from a village near the historic town of Asolo in Northern Italy to escape the ravages of World War I. Vittorio, at the age of 24, worked his way through odd jobs on farms and wineries. With 3 years savings, he purchased a 55-acre mixed “fruit salad” farm in Bilbul near Griffith. In 1928, due to a grape surplus, Vittorio was unable to sell his grapes so he made his own wine to enjoy with friends and family. The first crush yielded 25,000 gallons of shiraz. De Bortoli survived through the Depression, but was rocked by the onset of World War II as Australians of German and Italian descent were confined to prison camps or severely restricted by the government. In 1952, the rationing system on alcohol was lifted and a consumer boom pushed De Bortoli to the forefront.
Vittorio’s youngest son, Deen, joined the family business with his passion for winemaking machinery and new technology. By 1959, De Bortoli had increased capacity to 110 vats holding 795,000 gallons. De Bortoli Wines is still family owned and run by Deen and Emeri De Bortoli’s four children: Darren, Leanne, Kevin, and Victor. Their vineyards stretch across Yarra, King, and Hunter Valleys from its original base in Bilbul, in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales. The core remains the same: “Hard work, generosity of spirit and sharing good food, good wine, and good times with family and friends.”
Photo courtesy of De Bortoli Wines
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