Surprisingly for a State that is considered warm by most standards, Queensland is home to several grape-growing areas with the cooler Granite Belt, just north of the NSW border, by far the highest profile. Others to watch include the South Burnett region outside Kingaroy, the Gold Coast Hinterland and the Darling Downs. Close to 20 Queensland producers are listed in the 2016 Halliday Wine Companion all of them small and most of them family-owned. The names range from regional pioneers Ballandean Estate, Golden Grove Estate and Robert Channon Wines on the Granite Belt near Stanthorpe - where there has been much experimentation with alternative grape varieties - to more recent arrivals like the spectacular Sirromet facility at Mount Cotton between Brisbane and the Gold Coast (although it uses primarily Granite Belt fruit) and high-flying Symphony Hill and Boireann. Family-owned Ballandean Estate swept all five major industry gongs at the 2015 Queensland Wine Awards.
Much of the state of Queensland is too warm for growing quality wine grapes (although fruit wines are popular in the north of the state). The most prominent wine region is the high-elevation Granite Belt where the nights are cool enough to produce quality fruit. Production centres in and around the small towns of Stanthorpe and Ballandean, just over the border from New South Wales. Star names include Ballandean Estate, Symphony Hill, Robert Channon, Boireann and Golden Grove Estate. The region is probably best known for a wide range of alternative varieties such as durif, mourvedre, tempranillo, gewurztraminer and vermentino.
At most of the cellar doors you will be greeted either by the winemaker or the grape grower. The Granite Belt is also a major food bowl for Queensland and apples and their by-products are a regional highlight. As well as being country gourmet destination, the region is surrounded by national parks and prehistoric granite formations.
Ballandean Estate is Queensland's oldest family-owned and operated winery and the Puglisi family have been making wine here since 1931. The rustic cellar door is extremely welcoming and a daily tour is conducted each morning. The Italian-accented Barrel Room Café is open for lunch and dinner six days (closed Tuesdays) and the tables are surrounded by old wine barrels.
At welcoming Golden Grove Estate, the Costanzo family's offerings include a range of lesser-known grape varieties including barbera, vermentino and nero d'Avola, and the property overlooks a local creek.
Also don't miss Symphony Hill, a modern and dynamic winery that has attracted a lot of interstate interest.
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