Virgara Family History

The Virgara family in Italy, circa 1960From the stunning mountain ranges of Southern Italy to the sprawling fertile soils of the Adelaide Plains, Virgara Wines is the culmination of a family’s dream; a dream which has spanned three generations.

The story of the Virgara family began in the small Southern Italian town of Plati. Michele was fulfilling his national duty in the Italian Army when he saw Maria during one of his visits home, and their fate was sealed. They were married in 1943, and after the war they settled on a farm on the outskirts of the village.

They soon started a family. Their eldest son Guiseppe, was followed by nine more children over a span of 17 years – six boys and four girls altogether.

Their life in Plati was simple but full of hardships. Work was scarce and it was difficult to make a decent living. So in 1962 they made the life changing decision to migrate their family of 12 to Australia. Unfortunately, Michele and Maria had to leave behind their elderly parents, never to see them again. This was just one sacrifice they made in search of a better life and more opportunities for their young family.

After making the month long sea voyage on the passenger ship Australia, the family finally disembarked in Melbourne on 15 September 1962. They made headlines when they left Messina, Italy, and again in Freemantle and Melbourne, for being the largest family ever to migrate at the same time. Two days later they arrived in Adelaide where Michele’s brother, Antonio, had already settled.

Michele soon found work at the GMH factory. With the help of his three eldest sons, who also found work, they were soon able to purchase their first home in Woodville. Maria continued to care for and nurture her young family. However, their love for the land was too great and in 1967, they bought a farm in Angle Vale where they settled and remained.

Through sheer hard work and with little money to purchase machinery, Michele, Maria and their children worked the land. They grew potatoes, onions, lettuce and carrots, working from the early hours of the morning until late at night. Michele and his eldest sons also kept their day jobs while Maria continued the resourceful traditions of her homeland by making sausages, soap, ricotta, cheese, baking bread and growing vegetables for the family’s needs. Although Maria had no formal education, she was an astute business woman who made the financial decisions for the family.

Slowly over the years, the family grew and prospered and became well known and respected within the community.
Michele was a gentleman of few words who was highly respected and well-regarded amongst many. His work ethic, honesty and integrity were qualities he instilled in his children. Maria was a hard working woman of strong faith who prayed daily. Her faith in God gave her strength and courage throughout her life. Despite her hardships and grief in later life, she never lost faith in God and was always grateful.

Michele and Maria made Australia their adopted home, never having a desire to return to Italy. They were always thankful for the opportunities Australia provided their family. The legacy that Michele and Maria have left for their numerous descendants is one of courage, generosity, loyalty, and respect.

Michele and Maria were always very proud of their family, and especially so as they saw the hopes and dreams of their children fulfilled.

Virgara Wines is a significant stakeholder in the increasingly popular Adelaide Plains wine region, which is one of South Australia's oldest wine-producing areas. The Virgara family and their passion for wine is creating a new taste sensation - the blending of Italian winemkaing tradition with the distinctive flavour of the Adelaide Plains.

We welcome you to our winery and invite you to enjoy the experience.

© 2014, Virgara Wines / 143 Heaslip Road, Angle Vale SA 5117 / Phone: 08 8284 7688 / Fax: 08 8284 7666 / Email

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