One of the really interesting aspects of being involved in the delightful and delicious world of wine is the fascinating people that one meets.
One such person is Belinda Coniglio. Wine is in her blood.
Belinda’s grandfather migrated to Australia from Italy, in particular a town called Bivongi. It was in 1952 at the age of 19, that Eugenio Liberato Valenti arrived in Australia. He made that dramatic move to create a better life for his family. Can you image how driven he must have been to give up everything he knew and was familiar with to arrive in a country that he had only probably heard about? 13,000 kilometres away, Australia became his new home. Eugenio was a pioneer.
Having established himself in his chosen new country, he sent for his brother-in-law, Alessandro Calabrese to join him down under. They worked as loggers in Kalgoorlie but moved onto the Midland Railways Workshops along with many other Italian migrants.
But Eugenio’s real ambition was to plant a vineyard and be a winemaker.
Their hard work paid off and Eugenio was able to buy his first property in WA’s Swan Valley in 1952. There he planted what is now one of the oldest vineyards in the area. Eugenio was clearly an entrepreneur and a self-taught winemaker.
Now this takes us back to Bivongi.
Bivongi is a Medieval village in the Province of Regio Calabria. One of the claims to fame for this village is the longevity of the locals, with many of them living beyond 100 years and even more in their nineties.
National Geographic magazine undertook a study of the places around the world with a disproportionate number of centenarians in the population. These places are known as Blue Zones and include Okinawa, Japan, Barbagio in Sardinia, Ikaria in the Aegean and Loma Linda in California.
If you like holidaying off the beaten track and manage to get to Bivongi one day, you might want to take a gastronomic tour with some of the 100-year-olds. Of course, longevity is linked to genetics, diet, lifestyle and the environment.
But, I am told that these seniors in hushed tones suggest that one of the secrets to a long life in Bivongi Wine, which is the only DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) wine from the entire province of Reggio Calabria. DOC wines are produced in specific areas, following exact rules which preserve a region’s traditional winemaking practices.
This is the legacy that Eugenio and Alessandro brought with them to Australia. Over time, they purchased some 72 acres of land. Their vineyard, Vino Italia to this day is known for the quality of its product, wine which is preservative free and full of Italian tradition.
For your information, Eugenio’s natural style wines will soon be complemented with the family’s low preservative 2019 Shiraz.
If you would like to know more about Vino Italia and the amazing story about the two gentlemen behind it, please take a look at www.vinoitaliano.net.
Anyway, shall be get back to Belinda? The history behind Eugenio and Alessandro is Belinda’s heritage, and clearly a heritage of which she is rightly proud.
Belinda was fortunate to grow up around her grandfather’s business and spent most weekends in the Swan Valley. As Belinda grew older, she increasingly became involved with the sales, marketing and promotion of family’s wine.
Belinda’s European heritage drew her back to her roots and she ended up spending much of 2016/2017 in Italy and Spain.
While in Europe, Belinda was easily assimilated into the continent’s culture which is hardly surprising given her ancestry. The significance in a glass of wine shared with others struck her. In these European surroundings, socialising, conversing, sharing experiences over a glass of wine was a natural way of life, as it must have been in her grandfather’s native Bivongi.
Amongst other things, one of Belinda’s projects that she feels passionate about is boutique wine label for her grandfather’s winery.
When asked about her favourite wines, Belinda singles out Siena Rosè, which is one of her own creations. It is a modern rose with strawberry and cherry flavours. If you would like to try it, just click on
She also makes special mention of Boutique Wine and Champagne’s wine from Puglia, which she recommends as a light and easy accompaniment for any casual meal.
Just discussing Belinda’s love of and knowledge of wines does not do her justice.
This lady is multi-faceted and multi-talented.
She has a B.A. in European Studies, a Bachelor of Laws Degree, a Graduate Diploma in International Law and an MBA.
She is a successful consultant, who can harness her experience in law, international relations, government relations, marketing and communications for the benefit of her clients. Her clients are drawn from government, education and of course, viniculture.
Her boutique consulting agency, called Ideas and Impact has delivered strategy and business transformation projects.
But there is even more to Miss Coniglio.
When Belinda was in Europe in 2016, she walked the Camino de Santiago. It is a medieval pilgrim route across the North of Spain ending at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino de Santiago is a UNESCO World Heritage experience by virtue of the cultural exchange it promotes between people from all over the world and over a period of many centuries.
Today the Camino de Santiago is regarded as a unique trip of a lifetime, which has attracted people from all over the world as it did with Belinda. The various routes are between 700 to 800 kilometres and typically take some 5 weeks.
People of all ages, nationalities and circumstances walk the Camino de Santiago routes every year. Many undertake the pilgrimage for religious reasons but many just do it for the challenge and the cultural experience and heritage.
Clearly heritage is important to Belinda, which is where we began, as is a sense of achievement.
We feel lucky that our paths have crossed with Belinda’s. We look forward to continuing to promote her wines and look forward to her future release of wines.
Watch this space, www.boutiquewinechampagne.com.