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OUR FAMILY

The Calabria Family Wines story is three generations in the making.
Discover more about each of our family member's below.


FIRST GENERATION

Meet founders, Francesco and Elisabetta, who courageously journeyed across the world to forge a new future for their family.

In 1929, Francesco Calabria kissed his wife and son goodbye and boarded the ‘Viminale’ ship to set sail for Australia in search of a better life.

Francesco settled in the Riverina region of NSW in Griffith and found work as a farmhand. Once Francesco had enough money saved, he wrote to Elisabetta and their son Domenic, to finally come and join him in their new home.

In 1934 Elisabetta made the long journey over to Australia with their son. The newly united family quickly settled at their first dwelling, ‘Villa 116’ on Leonard Road in Griffith. Side by side, they both worked hard and were able to purchase a five-acre farm in the West-side of Griffith on Brayne Road.

The couple went on to have eight more children; Tony, Joe, Mario, Rita, Cath, Josephine, Mary and William (little Billy). Despite the balance and long days of working on the family fruit-farm and running a house-hold and cooking for nine children, Elisabetta always did it with grace and endurance.

At the end of a long working day on the family’s fruit farm in the new-fangled irrigation area, Francesco would make his own home-made red wine, to ease the pains of a day. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the money to invest in all the necessary equipment to make it with, so he took over Elisabetta’s laundry tubs, and improvised from the little materials he had. Soon enough Francesco was also producing wines for the large, local Italian and European population who had also settled in Griffith. Wine was purchased in large barrels and gave the family some extra income.

Francesco began to form partnerships with local family growers in the area and crushed his first 'official' batch of wine in 1945.Francesco’s techniques of making the wine never changed and he taught them to two of his sons, Tony and William (Bill).

“For a man whose education never went beyond primary school, Francesco’s achievements were remarkable and something I know my family admires. I was fortunate enough to learn the secret behind my father’s wines, which lead me and my brother, Tony, to take over the small production at the ripe age of 14.” Bill Calabria.

DID YOU KNOW

Francesco worked the fertile soil and saw that with the new irrigation they could eventually have their own farm to feed themselves. He called it the rich land. The family pays homage to this with a great quality, everyday range called Richland.

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SECOND GENERATION

Meet Bill and Lena, who were faced with potentially losing the family business, yet they never gave up. With a determined spirit, grace, and tenacity they worked even harder through the tough times, to not only hold onto the business but to prepare it for a successful future.

BILL (WILLIAM) CALABRIA, AM

SECOND GENERATION

"If the definition of a Regional Hero is someone who has almost single-handedly put a region on the quality wine map against all the odds and did whatever it took to follow his dream - even if it meant resorting to washing bottles to make it happen - and be a model citizen along the way, then Bill Calabria is a true Regional Hero.”——Wine Business Magazine.

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Bill (William) Calabria, was the ninth and last child born to Francesco and Elisabetta. In 1962, Bill was only 14 years old when he and his brother Tony were obliged to take over the modest family business. Bill had a burgeoning boxing career ahead of him but he followed his father's wishes and took over the selling of barrels of wine to the locals and across Sydney.

During the early '70s, the brothers release their first bottled wine, under the ‘Calabria’ label and Bill also met his wife-to-be, Lena. In 1974, Bill and Lena married and two years later welcomed their first son Frank, followed by Michael a year later. Life was busy as it was still all hands on deck at the winery, with the family also living on-site, running the daily operations and raising two energetic little boys.

The business was going smoothly right up until the late 1980s when the Australian economy was facing a recession. The wine industry was in the doldrums, sales had dried up, and vines were being ripped out across the country’s leading wine regions. Bill needed to make the heartbreaking decision to put the family winery on the market which also saw him inherit a lot of debt and owe a lot of money to the bank. Bill vowed to do whatever it took to keep food on the table for his family.

Bill, his wife Lena and children; Frank and Michael started washing wine bottles and two litre flagons for other wineries in the Riverina, using an old soft-drink bottle washing machine that he salvaged from a paddock in the back-blocks. The idea of washing bottles was never ideal but it allowed the winery to keep functioning and believe it or not that old machine got the family back on track at the right time. The family wine business was in a better position when the 1990s brought new interest and prosperity to the wine industry, with the demand for export.

It was the start of the decade and Bill made the conscious decision he did not want to become a big bulk producing winery, instead he vowed to produce quality wines, wines that would soon win him accolades internationally. Thirty successful years later, Bill is no longer washing bottles for other wineries, he has grown his Riverina winery and cellar door base, while extending his portfolio to the Barossa Valley region with three remarkable vineyard sites & a cellar door.

“For 40 years our family has united around the kitchen table. A table overflowing with good food, great wine and very passionate (or some may say robust) conversation about the future of our family business. My children are custodians of Calabria Wines today and together they will continue to thrive beyond three generations because of the determination, vision, and loyalty they have to each other.” says Bill.

DID YOU KNOW

Bill received a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours List for supporting dozens of cancer charities. The AM following his name is in recognition of this honour.

Bill was also honoured at the 2015 NSW Wine Awards receiving the Graham Gregory Award for his outstanding contribution to the state's wine industry.

Bill is at the winery every day, even on the weekend - he says when you are passionate about what you do, it just becomes your way of life! Bill enjoys spending time with his grandkids; “They love coming to work with me at the winery and playing around in the vineyards.

”Even though Bill is busy overseeing the day to day operations at the winery, he will always find time to play in his band ‘The Echoes’. “We started playing when I was 14 and have now decided to dust off our guitars to play at local events, which I really enjoy.”

LENA CALABRIA
SECOND GENERATION

Lena has been integral to the success of the family business. Since day one, and now almost 50 years later, Lena's role behind the scenes tirelessly supporting her husband, children and staff is at the heart of their success.

Lena joined her new husband Bill at the helm of the winery in 1974. The young couple lived in a tiny one-bedroom section of the winery and set out to start a life together working in the winery and raising a family side by side.

Lena worked in the cellar door assisting with the day to day running of the small producing wine company. From filling large wine barrels to send to Sydney; doing the bookwork; hand labeling and bottling; cleaning out tanks, and spending vintage nights on the weighbridge. Lena soon had two kids in tow, Frank and Michael, but maintained all these tasks whilst also raising the two young boys.

In the late '80s when the wine industry was in the doldrums and sales had dried up, Lena and the boys would join Bill in spending days on end washing bottles for the other local wineries. During this tough decade, Lena and Bill's family grew and they welcomed their third son, Andrew in 1984 and their first and only daughter Elizabeth in 1988.

The young family continued to work hard which provided them with the opportunity to stay in the wine game while times were tough. The family was ready and able to produce wines for the export market in the ’90s when wine sales started to boom again. Once the winery was viable again, Lena made the decision to step back from the winery but was still in charge of coordinating the famous ‘Vintage Festivals’ at Calabria Family Wines each Easter long weekend.

Having done the hard work from the ground up, Lena now leaves the operating of Calabria Family Wines to her four children, however, you will still find her at the winery cooking for long weekend events or gladly hosting wine buyers at her home, cooking her renowned Italian sugo (pasta sauce).

DID YOU KNOW

Lena’s stories and dedication to the business are endless but one stand out is that for 14 consecutive vintages, Lena would head to the winery to cook large Italian feasts (lunch and dinner) for the family plus all the cellar workers.

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THIRD GENERATION

Discover more about each of our third generation; Frank, Michael, Andrew, and Elizabeth, who aim to continue their parent's and grandparent's legacy and ensure their values of working hard, being innovative and staying true to your vision, remain at the core of the family business.

ANDREW CALABRIA

THIRD GENERATION

Third and youngest son Andrew, completed school at Sydney’s Saint Gregory’s College and was granted early acceptance to Charles Sturt University's Oenology course (Wine Science Degree). Andrew joined the family business as an Assistance Winemaker, soaking up the knowledge and experience of two senior team members.

Andrew went on to further enhance his experience in the industry by moving to Sydney in 2007 to establish the company’s domestic sales team. What started as a team of two, has now increased to over a dozen sales representatives across Australia. During this time, Andrew also managed sales in international markets and distribution grew under his guidance. In ‘2010 & 2011 the company won Exporter of the year’ as a result of Andrew's hard work.

Today, Andrew is based at the head office in Griffith working alongside his siblings and continuing to oversee domestic and international sales. Andrew spends up to four months of the year traveling aboard, showcasing the Calabria family wine profile. “The best part about my job is that wine is universal and I have to opportunity to see the reaction of the consumers when they taste our wine. This is the best marketing research that money cannot buy.”

When not traveling on the road, Andrew enjoys unwinding with his wife, Nicole and their three children; William Junior (named after his grandfather), Alexandra and Orlando. Andrew also loves basketball and when time allows, hits the court with the local team.

DID YOU KNOW

In 2015, Andrew was recognised as one of the 15 future wine industry leaders and accepted into the Wine Australia Future Leader program. Andrew is the current President of the Riverina Winemakers Association, a role that his father also assumed many years ago.

MICHAEL CALABRIA

THIRD GENERATION

Bill and Lena’s second son, Michael always had an interest in business management so after completing school at Sydney at Saint Gregory’s College in 1994, Michael joined the family winery. First working in the cellar department and learning the ropes from the ground up, Michael gained invaluable experience in all aspects of the business.

In time Michael became the General Manager and now manages all facets of the business from the vineyards, winemaking, and production, right through to assisting to promote the winery and the region.

Since Michael joined the company, the Calabria team has grown from a modest 12 staff members, to now currently a team of over 80. It is clear to say that Michael has been an integral part of the company’s growth and success but Michael humbly says, “What the business has achieved would never have been possible without the local community and our dedicated team.”

DID YOU KNOW

Michael’s ideal downtime is spending time with his wife, Jenine and their three daughters; Sophie, Elise, and Dominique. He is a great cook and you can often find him behind the BBQ treating the whole family to lunch and a few vinos.

ANDREW CALABRIA

THIRD GENERATION


Third and youngest son Andrew, completed school at Sydney’s Saint Gregory’s College and was granted early acceptance to Charles Sturt University's Oenology course (Wine Science Degree). Andrew joined the family business as an Assistance Winemaker, soaking up the knowledge and experience of two senior team members.

Andrew went on to further enhance his experience in the industry by moving to Sydney in 2007 to establish the company’s domestic sales team. What started as a team of two, has now increased to over a dozen sales representatives across Australia. During this time, Andrew also managed sales in international markets and distribution grew under his guidance. In ‘2010 & 2011 the company won Exporter of the year’ as a result of Andrew's hard work.

Today, Andrew is based at the head office in Griffith working alongside his siblings and continuing to oversee domestic and international sales. Andrew spends up to four months of the year traveling aboard, showcasing the Calabria family wine profile. “The best part about my job is that wine is universal and I have to opportunity to see the reaction of the consumers when they taste our wine. This is the best marketing research that money cannot buy.”

When not traveling on the road, Andrew enjoys unwinding with his wife, Nicole and their three children; William Junior (named after his grandfather), Alexandra and Orlando. Andrew also loves basketball and when time allows, hits the court with the local team.

DID YOU KNOW

In 2015, Andrew was recognised as one of the 15 future wine industry leaders and accepted into the Wine Australia Future Leader program. Andrew is the current President of the Riverina Winemakers Association, a role that his father also assumed many years ago.

ELIZABETH CALABRIA-STALTARE

THIRD GENERATION

Named after her grandmother, Bill and Lena’s youngest child and only daughter, Elizabeth, always wanted to immerse herself in the work of marketing and design. Completing school at Loreto College in Sydney, she went to graduate as a Graphic Designer, followed by a Diploma in Marketing. Elizabeth quickly acquired a passion for the wine industry after seeing the fulfillment it brought to her parents.

Like her siblings, Elizabeth worked in the family business while growing up and during university holidays. From being on the bottling line, labeling up export orders, and hosting wine tastings in the cellar door developed her product knowledge andgain valuable insight into their customers. This was always Elizabeth's intention and it allowed her to broaden her skills in the company and see her take on the current role as Marketing and Brand Manager at Calabria Family Wines.

“It’s such an exciting time within the company! My siblings and I fully immerse ourselves and bring fresh perspective and enthusiasm. This journey signifies our deep respect for what our grandparents and parents, Bill and Lena, have achieved to date and also sets the direction for our aspirations for the future generation.” Elizabeth Calabria-Staltare.

DID YOU KNOW

Elizabeth enjoys escaping to Northern Queensland with her husband, Chaise and their three children; Vincent, Julian & Giselle. Elizabeth says, "We love our busy family/work lifestyle in Griffith but it is always a treat being along our beautiful coast and relaxing with a prosecco in hand.”

ESTD. 1945

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