Australian winemaker Bill Calabria’s 70th birthday celebrations in Sydney on Friday night raised $82,000 for two causes close to his heart – the Charlie Teo Foundation and The Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“Dad is a vintage baby, born in March in the middle of the grape harvest, and he rarely had the opportunity to celebrate his birthday in the way he deserved due to the long vintage hours,” Bill’s son Andrew Calabria told the 300 guests.
“All of Dad’s life achievements have been milestones: the boxing, the music, the winemaking accolades, charity donations and awards, which include receiving the Order of Australia and the prestigious NSW Graham Gregory award.
“But I think reaching 70 is a milestone worth celebrating in itself here tonight, and as Dad is not a materialistic individual, it made sense to use his birthday celebration to raise money for two important charities.”
The celebrations were hosted by Bill’s long time friend and Nine Network entertainment editor, Richard Wilkins.
Bill and wife Lena were joined by their three sons Frank, Michael and Andrew, and daughter Elizabeth. Other guests included boxer Jeff Fenech, footballer Josh Reynolds, Calabria Family Wines customers and Charlie Teo’s daughter Alexandra, who paid tribute to Bill’s charity work.
The Bill Calabria Foundation was established in 2008 to raise funds to support other charitable organisations, the financially under-privileged, sick and needy.
Bill is the second generation of the family, taking over the reins of the wine business from his parents Francesco and Elizabeth. Things haven’t always been easy for the migrant Italian family, with Bill the youngest sibling of nine. The winery was forced to stop producing wine in the 1980s when the industry crashed. Nevertheless, his generosity to the industry and others, contributing regularly to charities, has never wavered and recognition of this was given during his appointment to the Order of Australia.
Bill was touched by the support.
“I am grateful for everyone taking the time and providing financial support,” he said.
“With the generosity of family, friends and colleagues, we have been able to give back to the community and make this dream a reality.
“My mum always said to me that no matter what you have, you always have something to give to someone less fortunate.”
The entertainment included the Black Sorrows, X Factor Australia star Nathaniel and a performance by Bill himself and his original local band from the 70’s, The Echoes.