|In 1919, World War I veteran Giuseppe Casella returned to Sicily to raise a family and make the wine of his forefathers. Maria Casella’s father, Giovanni Patane had also returned to work the land with a deep seated connection to the soil.
On the other side of the world, Edgar Richard Shaw, known as Percy, was also returning from the Great War. The Australian government had granted Percy a new piece of land via the Returned Soldiers Settlement Scheme; Farm 1471 Mirrool in the Parish of Stanbridge for the purpose of “horticulture”. The following year he would clear the land and plant grape vines.
“Your homeland, your patrie, is heaven on earth”
Farm 1471, original site of Casella Family Brands - purchased by Filippo Casella in 1966. Giuseppe’s second child, Filippo, was born in 1920 into a period of economic hardship that would follow him for many of his early years. Almost two decades later, on the eve of the Second World War, Filippo volunteered for military service. With no experience of travel, he was drawn by the chance of adventure, and set off to serve in the Bersaglieri, the elite of the Italian Army. Whilst fighting in Libya, he was captured and after journeying across North Africa eventually became resident of a prisoner of war camp in Bangalore, India in 1941. Passing the time as a prisoner, Filippo filled his time with study, as sadly there was no wine. Yet he put his earlier alcohol-making talents to use, making a still and producing spirit using local fruit, such as paw paw and raisins, for his fellow prisoners. In 1946, returning home after six long years, Filippo found a Sicily changed by time and war. Filippo set straight back to work after the war tending vines to contribute to the family income however life was hard in Sicily. By contrast the new world offered opportunities for families like the Casellas. In Australia, water had transformed a dry region into a centre of growth and ambition. Making the voyage first alone, and later with his wife Maria and children, Rosa and Joe, Filippo followed a promise of work, land and opportunity all the way to New South Wales. After decades of share-farming, cane-cutting, tobacco growing and following work up and down the coast in their Blue Zephyr 6, the Casellas made a permanent home in Yenda. Filippo’s ambition: to grow outstanding grapes in the winemaking tradition of his family and homeland. Today the Casella legacy has grown from the original fifty acre property, Farm 1471 Mirrool, to over thirty five wine-growing regions across Australia, including some of the best vineyards in the country. One of Filippo’s sons, John Casella, is now the Managing Director of the family company - Casella Family Brands. He has personally created these premium wines, drawn from these exceptional land-holdings, in a tribute to the history of his forefathers.