ONE of the Australian wine industry's most influential women and co-founder of the Riverina's most recognisable wine brands passed away on Sunday.
Maria Casella, who established Casella Family Brands with her husband, Filippo, died with her family by her side in Brisbane's Redlands Base Hospital, aged 87.
Mrs Casella, nee Patane, is survived by her sons Joe, John and Marcello and her daughter Rosa.
Son and Casella Family Brands managing director, John Casella, said his mother worked hard to provide for her family.
"My mother was integral to the creation of Casella Family Brands and the birth of the yellow tail brand," Mr Casella said.
"From the early days spent travelling from the Riverina region to far North Queensland selling their locally produced wine, to the incredible 12.5 million cases we now produce every year, our family business is a heroic tail of success that is testament to my parents and their determination and hard work from the beginning.
"Mrs Casella epitomised the values of family, hard work, dedication and loyalty.
"These values have not only shaped our family, but are upheld within our business today."
The Sicilian-born winemaker married her childhood sweetheart, Filippo, in 1947 shortly after he returned from the war.
Filippo Casella began travelling to Australia in 1951 to establish the wine business in a bid to create a better life for his family struggling in war-ravaged Italy.
For the next five years Maria took on the sole responsibility of raising her children until the family eventually settled in Australia permanently.
A requiem mass for Mrs Casella will be held on Saturday, August 16, at Griffith Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 10am, followed by internment in the Griffith cemetery.
The Casella family has welcomed those who wish to pay respects to join them in remembering Mrs Casella's life.
Mr Casella said he would be grateful for donations to be made to the Griffith Private Hospital Fund.
Casella Family Brands will be closed for business on Friday, August 15, until Sunday, August 17, as a mark of respect.