CHEERS TO THAT: Vic Pennisi doesn't just move in political circles, he's also a keen winemaker in his spare time.
CHEERS TO THAT: Vic Pennisi doesn't just move in political circles, he's also a keen winemaker in his spare time. Matthew Purcell

Councillor perfects plonk for show time

KEEPING tradition alive is paramount for Southern Downs councillor Vic Pennisi.

Between council duties, CrPennisi pours a lot of time and effort into perfecting his homemade wines and evidently it's paying off.

He took out some top awards at the weekend's Stanthorpe Show and landed himself on Channel 7 news for doing so.

But prestige or accolades isn't what he's concerned with. For him it's about paying homage to his forebears and ensuring family traditions live on long after he's gone.

"I've really been doing this ever since I could crush grapes with the old man,” Vic said.

"I only make wine these days because my kids want to keep the cultural tradition.

"This is not winery wine and it's really the luck of the draw. If you get a good season, you get good grapes and you get a reasonable wine, and if it suits the palate of the judges you might get something.

"I don't really enter for the prestige of winning. I just do so because, as people would have seen the other day, there's a whole heap of people turn up, creates a bit of interest, gets people talking and there's a bit of fellowship.

"It highlights that community spirit that exists.”

He doesn't have his own private vineyard or any special secrets, he simply resorts to buying table grapes to create his product.

He does, however, have the benefit of having learned from his Sicilian father.

"My young fella, about five or six years ago, he said, 'Dad, I want you to teach me how to make wine the way my grandfather used to make it.'

"He did it all his life. In fact, when we go to Italy this year we're going to hopefully make a bit of wine at the vineyard the old man tended when he was in Italy.

"It's a bit of a logistical nightmare but hoping we can pull it off. It's in Sicily, at the foothills of Mt Edna,” Vic said.

On top of claiming a first prize for his Italian-style white, first for a rose, winning champion white, third for a dry red and third for Italian-style red, the family also dabble in other ventures such as salami and olives.

"All those things that were the culture introduced here to Australia by the immigrants, we've actually kept it burning here, whereas if you go back to the mother country it's all lapsed over there now.

"They'll do it commercially but not a lot goes on within the family environment anymore.

"But my kids are very interested and want to keep their culture alive and I can only pass it on while I'm alive. Once I'm dead, it's gone,” he said.

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