Wine still flows despite tragedy
LAUGHTER and the sound of clinking glasses of wine filled the restaurant at Ballandean Estate on Saturday as 60 visitors enjoyed lunch at the winery.
Owner Angelo Puglisi was seen chatting with a pair of visitors before breaking into a laugh, patting them on the back and moving down the table to greet the next guests.
In the next room, inside the cellar door, daughter Robyn Henderson served wine to another group of guests with a smile, joking that what they were tasting had suddenly turned into a limited edition drop.
Yet only 100m away from these seemingly normal scenes, the large shed that once stored 150,000 bottles of wine lay smouldering.
The Puglisi family said the difficult few days had been made easier by the flood of support they received from the local community, as well as loyal Ballandean Estate wine drinkers.
"I got a phone call from one of our customers saying, 'You need the money so I'm buying a carton of wine right now'," daughter Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi said.
"We've just been blown away by all the phone calls from people. It's been amazing."
Leeanne said the family was taking solace in the fact there was "still wine to sell".
Her mum, Mary Puglisi, who was still recovering from an eye operation at the weekend, has been reminding her family that this wasn't the only hurdle they had come across.
"We've had tragedies before and we've pulled through them," she said.
The Puglisis are also thinking of turning the tragedy into an opportunity to make some changes.
"We are considering changing our labels," daughter Robyn Henderson said.
"We had been talking about it previously, and this would enable us to do it all in one hit, instead of phasing it out over three years."
Meanwhile, investigations are continuing into the exact cause of the fire.
Ballandean Estate is still open for business.