Di Sciascio Family Wines is an exciting new venture for owners Matthew, Susan and Lulu Di Sciascio. Winemaker Matthew Di Sciascio's passion for wine developed through sharing food and wine at family meals and is a direct extension of his cultural upbringing and Italian heritage. Matthew loves the creative expression that crafting a truly drinkable wine with its own sense of place and has spent nearly two decades developing his craft.
It was when Matthew journeyed to Italy with his parents in 1991 to visit his father's family in Abruzzo that his appreciation for wine took on an important meaning. This shaped his career and sent him on the trajectory to where he is today.
Matthew recounts how they arrived at the village late one evening where about 30 relatives were waiting. They had not eaten their evening meal, as it was important to share the meal together. The food was wonderful, simple and beautiful. It was then his (uncle) Zio Alberto who put a bottle of wine on the table and said to his brother, Valentino (Matthew's Father), in Italian: "Do you remember this wine?" To which Valentino replied "No, no, why?" and Alberto said "This is the wine we made together when you were in Italy last, in 1986." Everyone enjoyed that wine late into the night catching up on news and recalling times past. The penny had dropped and Matthew realised that wine really could capture a time and a place in a bottle.
From that point Matthew, with a more seriuos attitude, started helping his father and close family friend Silvino Di Biase make wine their house wine in the garage. Before long he had his own mini enterprise 'Backyard Wine Co-op', making wines with his father and roping in the neighbours to help bottle the wine. Gathering further experience from casual labouring work in several vineyards in Geelong and the Yarra Valley convinced Matthew that this was a passion that needed to be developed. In 1999 with two fellow surfing mates as business partners Bellbrae Estate was established 1.5 km inland from the famed Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road near Torquay in Victoria. At Bellbrae with Matthew, as the active partner, he and Wally planted 10 acres of vineyard to Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and a small amount of Viognier. Very quickly Bellbrae Estate established itself a winery to watch, winning several awards including 2006 Best Wine of Show at the Geelong Wine Show.
Keen to make their first vintage in 2003, Matthew enrolled in the new Deakin – Charles Sturt University's Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) Degree course which he completed in 2005 with distinction as joint dux and so was awarded the‘2006 International Vintage Scholarship.’This helped Matthew travel to Italy where he worked vintage at award winning Masciarelli Winery in Abruzzo, Italy. Just 20 minutes drive from his father's home village, what an amazing experience. This experience was the initial spark in Matthew's interest in 'alternative' varieties. In particularly, the many varieties from Italy.
Since graduating in 2005 Matthew has also completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Viticulture) Degree at Charles Sturt University and gained valuable experience on the wine show judging circuit including the Victorian Wines Show and the Red Hill International Cool Climate Wine Show. Since 2007 Matthew has been a member and more recently Chairman of the Geelong Wine Show Committee.
Feeling restless as a winemaker after a stint as winemaker at Otway Estate and with his interest in alternative varieties growing, the desire to ‘do his own thing’lead Matthew to sell his interest in Bellbrae to one of his business partners in December 2010.
Since January 2011 Matthew has worked vintages at Galli Estate, one of the few wineries in Victoria that specialize in alternative varieties. During this time has worked together with his wife Susan and daughter Lulu to develop the Di Sciascio Family Wine label “D'SAS”.
D'SAS wines are made to reflect the philosophy of his family's culture and Matthew's own experience gained through his journey as a winemaker. On making wine Matthew says: "The fruit tells me what style of wine it is going to be. I don't want to be prescriptive about what I need to make. I learn from the fruit and try to use my craft to fashion a wine that has drinkability and expresses its sense of place. Making wine is not just about putting fruit in a bottle, it's about capturing the time, the season and the vineyard in a way that is respectful of the grapes varietal characteristics and ultimately fulfils its role to accompany fine food with friends and family.”
Matthew and Wally making wine together.