Vito Luigi di Benedetto was born on 2 January 1923 in Sicily. One of nine living children, Vito's mother died giving birth to her twelfth child and he was raised by his father, who was a bootmaker by trade.
Vito and his three brothers all entered the army and fought during World War Two. The entire family managed to survive the war, although Vito was taken prisoner and didn't return to Sicily until three years after the war had ended. Forced to sell all their possessions during the war years to survive, following the war the boys managed to enlist the assistance of a shoe warehouse owner who knew their father. They set up a family business and by travelling, making and selling shoes, they were able to sustain the whole family and pay off their debt. The family was soon back on its feet and employed nine people.
Vito was offered a lieutenant's position in the Italian army but he declined. The War had made him an angry man and he was enraged by what he saw everywhere as corruption, injustice, inequality, discrimination. He also yearned for independence, as his father managed all the finances, leaving the children dependent on him.
These issues inspired Vito to migrate to Australia, which he did, in the early 1950s. He worked long hours and nights at various jobs, including Dunlop Tyres. Vito then continued the family tradition in the shoe business, working at Koala Shoes and also working in and then owning a shoe repair shop in High Street Northcote in the late 1960s. He also worked at the SEC but repaired shoes for people at home.
Living in the western suburbs he regularly sent money home to his family, as originally they had planned to follow him to Australia. However Vito's father died and the rest of the family were reluctant to immigrate. In the end Vito wrote to the family urging them to come as he needed support. Finally a brother and two sisters migrated. Over the years other extended family arrived until some eleven family members congregated in Coburg, all contributing to a deposit on a house in Thornbury.
Wine making was ensconced in the di Benedetto family's Thornbury home, with all the activity occurring in the back shed. They used a crusher made for Vito by a family friend, and a grape press purchased in the mid 1960s. The grapes were sourced from the Agosta family in Dundas Street Thornbury. Wine making was very much a family affair, with everyone contributing to the annual ritual, which involved preparation in April, fermentation from April to June and finally decanting the wine in June.
On 14 December 1968 Vito married Maria Antonuccio at St Marys in Thornbury. Maria (born 6 September 1931) had migrated from Sicily in 1958 to join a sister in Brisbane. There she would have happily stayed but another sister, who migrated to Melbourne six months after Maria arrived, requested her presence in Melbourne to assist with her young family.
As the family dispersed, Vito continued to make wine once every three years, with the assistance of Maria and often their daughter Angela (born in 1970). Angela recalls the pungent aroma of the grapes which was quite overpowering. Vito was not a great wine drinker himself; mostly he produced wine for family and friends. He generally produced red wine (from the muscatel grape) but his daughter Angela's requests for white wine also saw him produce from the Waltham grape as well. Vito passed away in 1991.