Image: Holy Name of Mary Church archives

Next time you are watching a game of cricket being played on the grounds opposite St Joseph’s College on Gladesville Rd, Hunters Hill – close your eyes for a moment and picture the entire area covered in grape vines.

Over hundred years ago the Villa Maria Monastery had its own vineyards. They were principally for the manufacture of altar wine with a small quantity set aside for table wine for the use of the Villa Maria community. The quality of the table wine left a lot to be desired, although the 1874 vintage appears to have been exceptional.

It was reported ‘This year our wine has been wonderful, we have made 16 barrels of wine, and good stuff too.”  The last recorded vintage was 1906.