In less than 40 years, the Littore family have transformed a corner of Victoria into a thriving wine area, and built a flourishing, international business.
The historic Australian winery Idyll sits in the picturesque Moorabool Valley, an hour southwest of Melbourne. The winery overlooks the first vineyard planted (in the 1960s) since a Phylloxera outbreak decimated the region in 1875, at which time were more than one hundred vineyards in the area. It took almost a century before new pioneers rediscovered the region and started planting again. Idyll is where you’ll find one such pioneering family – the Littores.
Mario and Aurora Littore emigrated in 1953 from the Mediterranean island of Lipari, off the north coast of Sicily, where vineyards cover the landscape and wine is a way of life. In the 1970s, after many years in Melbourne, the couple and their four sons re-settled in Mildura in southern New South Wales. There, on the rich earth of the area, they founded Jindalee, a small vineyard and citrus holding with views over the Murray River.
Mario and Aurora’s sons Vince and David went on to create Jindalee Estate Wines after purchasing Idyll in 1998. The two brothers, who serve as co-managing directors, increased holdings and production, and, since 2008, have conducted operations as Littore Family Wines, a business that reflects the strong family values and ethics of the family.
Today, Vince, based in the Moorabool Valley, manages winery operations and exports, while David and his wife Sharyn run the family’s vineyard operations, an area covering more than 1,800 ha, from the heart of the Murray Darling growing region.
The company produces a number of wine brands, including Idyll, named for the winery, and Jindalee, named for the first vineyard; it’s an aboriginal word, meaning ‘bare hill’. As well as producing their own brands, the company offers contract bottling, thanks to a state-of-the-art bottling line that can bottle up to 10,000 bottles per hour, along with bulk wine, private label and logistics services, including a ‘winery to wharf’ program.
Yet, while business has experienced significant growth – storage capacity is now at 18m litres, and the crushing and winemaking facilities can handle 15,000 tonnes per year – it is still very much a family operation.
Today, a number of family members are involved in the day-to-day running of the company: Sharyn is Vineyard Administrator; Ant is Cellar Hand; Tom manages Accounting and Pip handles Reception. Yet while the Littore name is on the letterhead, the ethos is that everyone who works for the company is part of the family. Many of the key staff have been with the company since its inception, and as an extension, their families have been involved with the company as well.
The Littores joke that they spend almost as much time discussing the results of their children’s weekend sporting events as they do planning for the business week ahead. Wherever they are headed, it’s important to them that they’re family first.