WHEN some of the finest water sommeliers gathered in China to savour the best tasting water in the world, few expected a Western Sydney brand would came up trumps.
After all the swirling, sniffing and spitting was done, Bella Vista based Beloka Water took home the top gong for the world’s best tasting sparkling water.
“I knew our water was good but we were competing against some of the best in the world. I would have been happy with a place but instead we received the gold award,” said chairman and founder Joe Commisso of Beloka Water’s triumph at the International Fine Water Tasting Competition.
A panel of five professional water sommeliers from around the world judged the 104 bottled water entries on their taste, appearance, and virginality, and voted Beloka as their first choice in the sparkling added carbonation category.
But the Beloka story really started more than 10 years ago when Mr Commisso purchased land at Beloka, on the eastern border of the unspoilt Kosciuszko National Park, as part of his plans to retire from the family’s construction business.
As he prepared to plant an olive grove, Mr Commisso went in search of a water source to irrigate the trees and stumbled on a find that would change the course of his retirement plans.
He discovered the quality of the water in the aquifer on his property was far too good for just irrigation and set about obtaining the necessary licenses to extract it.
Bottled at the source in glass bottles, Beloka has had an impressive rise in an industry dominated by giant Coca-Cola Amatil’s Mount Franklin. Beloka’s two varieties – lightly sparkling and naturally still – have garnered international appeal and are exported to places like China and Dubai and with negotiations underway to add Korea and Vietnam to the list.
For the sceptics who can’t depict a difference between tap and bottled water, Mr Commisso swears by his product saying the distinction in taste is undoubtedly there because it is mineral rich water created by nature and not a factory.
“The minerals are real and natural, we don’t add a thing. And these are healthy minerals too like sodium, magnesium, bicarbonate, silica and calcium,” Mr Commisso said, adding the brand has also been Kosher approved for use by the Jewish community.
Mr Commisso said he was proud that Beloka could spruik the “all Australian made and owned” label, a feat achievable by sourcing just about everything locally from the bottle caps, boxes and labels.
And they’re environmentally conscious too, he said, having recently invested in solar panels for power and the bottles are made of recycled glass.
It’s an impressive story for the boy who was born in Calabria in southern Italy to parents who migrated to Canberra to raise their brood of nine children.
Mr Commisso started working in a supermarket at the age of 12 and tried his hand at construction at 19 but the business of water, he says, “is completely new to me.”
So what of those retirement plans? “They’re still on the backburner,” he said. “I love what I do. This business gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”
Western Sydney Business Access. 2017. World’s best drinking water comes from Bella Vista. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.accessnews.com.au/people-news/item/2065-worlds-best-drinking-water-comes-from-bella-vista. [Accessed 12 January 2018].