Out­pour­ing of wine suc­cess

First Qld woman on the board

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Liana Walker [email protected]­der­post.com.au

BE­HIND every suc­cess­ful woman stands her fam­ily cheer­ing her on.

Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi (cen­tre) has been elected as the first Queens­land woman on the Wine­mak­ers Fed­er­a­tion, but she said she wouldn’t have got there with­out her parents An­gelo and Mary Puglisi and her sis­ter Robyn Hen­der­son.

The fourth gen­er­a­tion Puglisi couldn’t imag­ine do­ing any­thing other than sell­ing Gran­ite Belt wine to the world.

BE­COM­ING the first Queens­land woman on the Aus­tralian Wine­maker Fed­er­a­tion board may be an out­stand­ing achieve­ment but for Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi it’s just an­other day on the job.

Ms Puglisi-Gangemi, from Bal­lan­dean Es­tate, was elected onto the board on Novem­ber 13 but has served on the com­mit­tee for seven years.

The daugh­ter of Queens­land wine pa­tri­arch An­gelo Puglisi has lived and breathed wine-mak­ing for as long as she can re­mem­ber.

“My sis­ter and I were in­volved from when we were young,” she said.

“We spent many school hol­i­days out in the vine­yard with Dad.

“We started from the very ba­sics – from learn­ing how to grow the grapes and even­tu­ally my in­ter­est be­came more than that.”

It was dur­ing high school she de­cided she wanted to be­come a wine­maker, tak­ing on sci­ence classes where she was of­ten the only girl.

“Chem­istry and Leeanne did not blend well,” she said with a laugh.

“I thought wine-mak­ing would be too dif­fi­cult.

“But I al­ways had the in­ten­tion of com­ing back to the fam­ily busi­ness.”

Af­ter fin­ish­ing high school in 1986, Ms Puglisi-Gangemi pur­sued her other pas­sion of tourism by study­ing a busi­ness de­gree and work­ing in the travel in­dus­try for six years.

“Tourism was my thing, I was re­ally, re­ally in­ter­ested,” she said.

“If I wasn’t ever go­ing to come back to Bal­lan­dean Es­tate I wanted to be run­ning tourism in the Gran­ite Belt.”

Ms Puglisi-Gangemi went on to marry her hus­band, Mario, and have her first child, Steven, be­fore re­turn­ing to Bal­lan­dean Es­tate in 1992.

“When I came back it was just Mum and Dad and me,” she said.

“We did have a wine­maker on staff but re­ally it had been Mum and Dad on their own.”

With a grow­ing cel­lar door and a busi­ness de­gree in the bag, Ms Puglisi-Gangemi put her skills to use to help the busi­ness grow.

“My sis­ter (Robyn) be­came slightly in­volved ... Mario, my hus­band, came into the busi­ness,” she said.

“He started look­ing af­ter the pro­duc­tion side of the busi­ness and let­ting Dad con­cen­trate more in the win­ery.

“Each time one of us joined the busi­ness it grew sig­nif­i­cantly.”

Ms Puglisi-Gangemi is filled with pas­sion for Queens­land wine, say­ing she could talk about Gran­ite Belt wine for­ever.

Her pas­sion was what made her the per­fect per­son for the role of Queens­land Wine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Aus­tralian Wine­maker Fed­er­a­tion com­mit­tee for seven years. Now as a board mem­ber she is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with small winer­ies like Bal­lan­dean Es­tate from across the coun­try.

“It’s of­ten dif­fi­cult be­cause small winer­ies do ask, ‘What do you ac­tu­ally do for us?’ ” she said.

“It’s try­ing to give all winer­ies in Aus­tralia a fair go to make it a fair and eq­ui­table in­dus­try for ev­ery­body.”

Be­ing the first Queens­land woman on the board did not faze Ms Puglisi-Gangemi. She’d never felt as if her gen­der pre­sented any chal­lenges in the in­dus­try.

“Maybe that’s the way Robyn and I were brought up,” she said.

“We did what the boys did, so if Dad was out in the vine­yard we were out there with him.

“It’s just never oc­curred to me if I re­ally wanted to do it I couldn’t be­cause I’m a woman.”

How­ever de­spite her never feel­ing hard done by, she un­der­stands other women in the wine in­dus­try do face chal­lenges.

“I do know for some women it is a huge prob­lem,” Ms Puglisi-Gangemi said.

“I can un­der­stand their point of view. It’s never both­ered me, I’ve never felt that prej­u­dice.”

She hoped her con­nec­tions with lo­cal fed­eral mem­ber and

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture David Lit­tleproud would be of ben­e­fit to the fed­er­a­tion.

“What the wine­mak­ers fed­er­a­tion does mostly is lob­bies govern­ment,”

❝It’s been a re­ally, re­ally amaz­ing jour­ney to watch from the days when Robyn and I used to help out in the vine­yard to see what we’ve been able to achieve.

— Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi

she said. “With David Lit­tleproud be­ing agri­cul­tural min­is­ter it’s a good op­por­tu­nity to have that con­nec­tion with the wine in­dus­try.

“If there’s op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to work with him I can be that con­nec­tion.”

Ms Puglisi-Gangemi’s key fo­cuses while on the board in­clude main­tain­ing the rights of Aus­tralia’s wine­mak­ers to mar­ket their wines in Aus­tralia and in­ter­na­tion­ally us­ing grape va­ri­ety names and amal­ga­mat­ing the Wine­maker Fed­er­a­tion and grape grower rep­re­sen­ta­tive body Aus­tralian Vignerons to form a sin­gle united body.

“(In high school) peo­ple said why would you want to work on a farm but the wine in­dus­try is so much more than that,” she said.

At the end of the day, Ms Puglisi-Gangemi couldn’t imag­ine life any other way.

“It’s been a re­ally, re­ally amaz­ing jour­ney to watch from the days when Robyn and I used to help out in the vine­yard to see what we’ve been able to achieve,” she said.

“I of­ten pinch my­self – it of­ten doesn’t feel like 27 years since I’ve been here.”

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

PER­FECT BLEND: Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi is the first Queens­land woman on the Aus­tralian Wine­maker Fed­er­a­tion board.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Leeanne (front right) cred­its her fam­ily for her suc­cess – (from left) Robyn Hen­der­son, An­gelo Puglisi, Mary Puglisi, Hay­den Gangemi and wine­maker Dy­lan Rhymer.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Ten-year-old Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi helps out in the vine­yards.

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