“It was not without hesitation that I accepted your Secretary’s kind request to deliver you a lecture, and the only subject that I could think of, new to you and familiar to me, was wine. To avoid misunderstanding, I tell you frankly that I consider the temporate use of wine a valuable support to the healthy man in this thorny path of life, and that the judicious use of it has proved itself to me of incalculable benefit in the treatment of the sick and convalescent.”
So began, on June 27th, 1906 Dr Thomas Fiaschi’s lecture to the members of the Australian Trained Nurses Association. All of those present knew just how well qualified he was to make such remarks. Thomas Henry Fiaschi was born in Florence in 1853 and received his education at the Universities of Pisa and Florence. At the age of 22 he migrated to Australia and proceeded to build a reputation as an outstanding surgeon. He came to Windsor in 1876, where he commenced a medical practice in Thompsons Square and surgeon at Hawkesbury Hospital where he introduced Listerian Surgery into Australia. Fiaschi’s Windsor practice continued for about seven years until his appointment as Consulting Honorary Surgeon to Sydney Hospital and Examiner in Clinical Surgery at Sydney University. Always keenly interested in military matters, Fiaschi joined the NSW Army Medical Corps in 1891 and in 1896 went to Abyssinia with the Italian Army. From 1896 to 1900 he was in charge of the NSW No 1 Field Hospital in South Africa for which he received a D.S.O. He later served with distinction in the Great War with Australian and Italian forces in the ranks of Colonel and General. In addition to the vast amount of surgical work which he was able to get through, he was a leading authority on viticulture and planted vineyards on the Hawkesbury (1882) and Mudgee (1920). He was president of the NSW Wine Association and a member of the Royal Agricultural Society. It was during his early years at Windsor that Fiaschi first showed his interest in viticulture. In 1882 he purchased some 230 acres at Sackville Reach and soon after planted 5 acres of grapes as an experiment. This led to the establishment of a vineyard of 55 acres by 1889. To handle the vintage Dr Fiaschi built Tizzana Winery in 1887.
The building consisted of a two-storied sandstone structure for living quaters and cellars, attached to a three-storied building to process the grapes. The vineyards at Tizzana were planted with imported French and Italian vine cuttings, the fruits of which were turned into prize-winning wines under the skilled direction of Dr Fiaschi. Fiaschi continued his Tizzana and Mudgee wine business until his death in 1927, and his second wife Amy kept the operation going for a further 25 years. The last vintage from the early plantings took place in 1949. From that time cellars were used to age and blend wines from Mudgee. All of the wines from Tizzana were sent to Sydney via the river and sold through the family wine bar in Little George St., Sydney. In 1955, Tizzana was broken into by vandals and set on fire. The fire left only a stone shell and memories to testify to its existence. The ‘locals’ of the Windsor area knew ‘the Winery’ well. Many can recall pleasant associations with the operation or the people of Tizzana and some will spend as much time as you can spare, telling their tales.
In 1969 the restoration of the crumbling ruins was begun by Peter and Carolyn Auld. Living quarters were re-established on the second floor and the cellars kept as original as possible. The building stands today as a testimony to two outstanding historical developments of the Hawkesbury. Firstly as a monument to Dr Fiaschi and his high reputation as a skilled surgeon, and secondly as the earliest example of a viable winery in the Hawkesbury area. Today, Tizzana Winery has much to offer visitors to the Windsor region. The National Trust classified building again manufactures its own wines from grapes grown on the property. Some 5 acres of vines were replanted in 1980 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Muscat and Aleatico varieties) and an additional 4 acres of olive trees have since been planted. Plans are in place to double the size of plantings in the coming years. Tastings of house wines and wines bottled under the Tizzana Selection label can be arranged. Group luncheon or dinner functions with home-made treats from our commercial kitchen, can be arranged by calling the proprietors, Carolyn and Peter Auld. Our Olive Branch range of products can also be sourced at the winery. Est. 1887.