Grower puts up hat to focus on relaxing
After 37 years tending to the grapevines at Ballandean Estate Wines, Angelo Benvenuto is hanging up his hat.
In the decades since moving to Australia and taking up a job in Stanthorpe, the Sicilian vine grower has helped modernise the farm alongside Angelo Puglisi.
But the passionate gardener has decided it is time to relax, focus on his health and tend to his own backyard.
“Now that Angelo has retired, we intend to stay well healthwise, and enjoy our family and friends here in Stanthorpe,” said Angelo’s wife Nancy.
“When it rains again, I am sure Angelo will have one of the best gardens around.”
Mrs Benvenuto said Angelo came to Australia as a young man looking for a better life and found himself in the Granite Belt on a farm owned by his Uncle and Aunty.
“He worked there for a while then began working at the Wallangarra Meatworks where he remained for five years or so,” she said.
“In those days, the abattoir would close for about six weeks at a time and in that down time, Angelo worked on a number of farms around Ballandean including Ballandean Estate.
“When a position came up, Angelo Puglisi offered Angelo a full-time job working alongside him and growing some of the best grapes in the region.”
Mr Benvenuto learnt from Mr Puglisi and helped evolve the family farm from dry growing to installing irrigation and from hand-picked to machine.
Like everyone else at Ballandean he was a jack-of-all-trades, not only growing grapes but selling the wine at the cellar door where he would regale customers with his stories.
Mr Benvenuto will leave the vineyard in the capable hands of the new vineyard manager Robyn Robertson.
Ballandean Estate client relations manager Leeanne Gangemi said Mr Benvenuto would be missed.
“It was a big deal when he decided it was time to retire but he has to look after himself,” she said.
“Dad is also stepping back a bit.”