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Coonawarra wines heading to Rome for Australia Day

Coonawarra wines will be showcased in Italy soon at an event designed to give Europe a taste of Australia.

Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See, former deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, has given the South Australian wine region a leading role at his official Australia Day celebrations on the left bank of the Tiber River, just near St Peter’s Basilica.

It is part of a rotating program of feature towns and regions for Australia Day 2010, and the Coonawarra Vignerons Association says the opportunity to be involved is “simply priceless”.

“When dignitaries from Rome and the Vatican gather to celebrate Australia day next year, they will drink to the occasion with wines from Coonawarra,” CVA president Michelle Stehbens said.

“Despite its strong international profile, Coonawarra is a relatively small wine region, so this is a real endorsement of the wonderful wines which are being produced in this corner of South Australia.”

Speaking from Rome, Fisher says it makes sense to select the Coonawarra wine region given the enormous work of Blessed Mary MacKillop in the area.

“It was at Penola and the nearby Coonawarra region that she began to devise her education templates and curricula that were later taken up by the SA State Government,” he said.

“In a small way, this activity is a salute to a great Australian.”

Wines from Coonawarra’s Zema Estate and DiGiorgio Family Wines have been confirmed for the menu and Zema Estate proprietor Nick Zema says his family is enormously proud to be selected.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the Australia Day function in Rome,” he said.

“Our family migrated to Australia in the 1950s and has built a successful Australian family business whilst remaining passionate about our Italian heritage … we are really looking forward to participating in this event, and hope to also have a family member in attendance.”

DiGiorgio Family Wines partner Frank DiGiorgio says his family’s strong Italian heritage adds to the significance of the event.

“Australian wine is becoming more and more popular overseas — they look at us as leaders in the wine industry in many ways and are very interested in our wines, so this is a fantastic opportunity for Coonawarra,” he said.

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