Our people

Ballandean Estate is a story of people, passion and place.

Let us share our story of Australian winemaking with you.

Angelo Puglisi, The Father of Queensland Wine

Owner & Vineyard Manager

Angelo Puglisi is the founder of Queensland’s wine industry and the son of a hardworking and passionate Italian family. He has spent his entire life on Ballandean Estate, and over the past 80 years his family business has been at the forefront of developing and promoting the Queensland Wine Industry.

  • In his early twenties, fruit and vegetable grower Angelo Puglisi had a vision to develop a viable and sustainable commercial wine industry in the Granite Belt region, inspired to pursue this dream from a young age.
  • In 1968, Angelo planted a block of Shiraz vines with his new wife Mary on the Opera Block. Angelo’s decision to convert from table grapes to wine grapes was brave and he and Mary worked hard to produce wines of quality and create a market for their Granite Belt grown wines.
  • 2018 marked the fifty year anniversary since planting the first Shiraz, and a fifty year wedding anniversary celebrating Angelo most important partnership: bringing his supportive new wife Mary into the business and the industry.

Angelo has a strong sense of community and commitment to family, and has been a Rotarian since 1971. He is proud of his beloved Opera in the Vineyard, an annual charity event hosted in a long running partnership between the Rotary Club of Stanthorpe and Ballandean Estate. Opera has raised over $1.3 million for Queensland medical charities since 1993.

Mary Puglisi

Owner

Mary has forged her way as a wine pioneer since her marriage at just 19 years of age to Angelo Puglisi in 1968. Together they purchased the winery and vineyard from Angelo’s parents. Visionaries from the start, the Puglisis visualised opening a cellar door and being the catalyst for Queensland’s Barossa and Hunter Valley on the Granite Belt.

While Angelo grew the grapes and made the wine, it was Mary who fostered the humble beginnings of the cellar door at Ballandean Estate when it opened in 1972. As the matriarch of Queensland’s oldest family-owned and -operated winery, it was her commitment to a seven day a week hospitality business that saw tourism and the industry grow.

“We knew that wine tourism would follow once there was wine to sell and some more cellar doors in the region. When we opened the cellar door four years after planting the Shiraz, there were only 300 wineries in Australia—now there is over 3300!”, says Mary.

Mary and her team catered lunches and dinners to thousands of people visiting the Granite Belt for over 35 years. In 1997 this catering business blossomed into The Barrelroom restaurant which showcases the best of regional produce on the Granite Belt and has received critical acclaim.

Mary has been waving the wine banner for Queensland for five decades now and continues to give her lifetime of service to the Queensland wine industry.

Mary’s awards and highlights

Angelo’s awards and highlights

  • 1977  Churchill Fellowship to study Winemaking and Wine Tourism in Europe
  • 1995 Paul Harris Fellow Award for Community Service
  • 1998 Tourism Ambassador Award
  • 1999 Ambassador for the Wesley Hospital
  • 2001 Queensland Tourism Yellow Pages Business Directions Award
  • 2001 Centenary Medal
  • 2001 Qld Wine Press Club Most Significant Contribution Queensland Wine Industry
  • 2003 Queensland Great — awarded by Queensland Government
  • 2003 Bassett Award — awarded by Queensland Wine Industry Association
  • 2005–present Australia Day Ambassador
  • 2006 Dante Alighieri Society Award for the diffusion of the Italian Language and Culture
  • 2011 Attended lunch in Brisbane with her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinborough as a guest of the Governor of Queensland

Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi

Client Relations Manager

Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi is an outstanding advocate for Queensland’s burgeoning wine industry and one of Australia’s most influential women in wine. At the end of 2018, Leeanne was elected to the Winemaker’s Federation (WFA) board. She is the second Queensland board member to be elected since WFA’s 1999 inauguration and the first Queensland female board member to be elected.

“I am thrilled to be elected to a platform where I can continue to improve the business and regulatory environment for Australian winemakers and grape growers. Educating national and international consumers about the quality of Queensland wines has driven my advocacy,” says Leeanne.

Leeanne has worked for Ballandean Estate Wines since 1992. Coming back to the family business was always her intention as her passion for the wine industry and the beautiful Granite Belt could not keep her away. She is married to Ballandean’s production manager Mario Gangemi.

During high school, Leeanne intended to study winemaking. However after struggling through high school chemistry, she decided that it was the business part of the winery that would be her forte — particularly managing the cellar door — as we know, she loves a chat! A true wine ambassador, Leeanne can be found:

  • On the telephone, or in the cellar door … but always talking!
  • Moving and shaking in the political arena
  • Chatting up the media
  • Lecturing at university symposiums
  • Acting as our local go-to person for Australian wine industry news and what’s happening in tourism on the Granite Belt and Southern Downs
  • Managing our wine clubs and in contact with customers creating the best deals
  • Taking visitors behind the scenes on a winery tour

Robyn Puglisi-Henderson

Business Manager

Ballandean Estate Malvasia winemaker Dylan Rhymer and fourth-generation vigneron Robyn Puglisi-Henderson
Robyn Puglisi-Henderson and winemaker Dylan Rhymer

Robyn is Ballandean Estate’s problem solver who keeps the business thriving. Her expertise in export trade, sales, HR, accounting and administration while mixing in family business make Robyn’s life in a regional winery fulfilling. She is married to Lirah vinegar maker Ian Henderson and is raising teenage children.

Robyn has served Ballandean Estate since 1999, and worked in government and private industry before returning to the Granite Belt. Every day is different for Robyn! You could find he

  • In the vineyards with her father Angelo Puglisi
  • Taking visitors behind the scenes on a winery tour
  • Managing export, reporting, people and projects
  • Chatting up customers in the cellar door (Leeanne is not the only sister who likes a yarn!)

Robyn’s awards and highlights

Dylan Rhymer

Winemaker

Dylan has been making award-winning wine at Ballandean Estate for almost 20 years. He took the position of Chief Winemaker here in 2000. In the time Dylan has lived in Queensland he has witnessed the Queensland wine industry grow in leaps and bounds.

“The quality of our wines holds up to that of any other state. This is greatly due to the diversity of tertiary qualified and nationally/ internationally experienced winemakers and viticulturalists that now call Queensland home. Some are new to the industry here, some are sons and daughters returning to their family wineries,” says Dylan.

Dylan hails from the land of the long white cloud, and graduated from his Diploma of Wine Science at Hawkes Bay. His first position was Brookfield’s Vineyards, a small premium winery in Hawkes Bay. A “Flying Winemaker”, Dylan has followed vintages and wine seasons around the world, from Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Bulgaria, Spain, South Australia and the Granite Belt.

Every day is different for Dylan. And he is a hands-on winemaker! You may find him:

  • Collecting fruit samples during vintage
  • Researching and trialing to most up to date winemaking techniques
  • Showing industry representatives and visitors the art of wine behind the scenes
  • Crushing, racking, transferring wine
  • Tasting and creating the best blends from each vintage
  • Managing wine storage for the perfect releases
  • Finessing and bottling wines

Mario Gangemi

Production Manager

A glazier by trade, Mario’s diverse skills means there are few problems in the business he cannot solve. This man is a quiet achiever who can build anything, has an excellent rapport with the winemaker and vineyard staff and a great palate.

Father of two and husband of Leeanne, Mario married into the family business a couple of decades ago.

Mario’s awards and highlights

Leeanne Puglisi Gangemi of Ballandean Estate Wines

Leeanne’s awards and highlights

Ballandean Estate Malvasia winemaker Dylan Rhymer in the vines