Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Aboard - Toot Toot

It has taken more than a decade, but the romance of steam rail was restored to the Southern Downs this week.

Thanks to the dedicated effort of a group of "train tragics", the volunteer army faithfully restored a C17 steam locomotive and carriage. The group received the green light from a certified engineer for the train to travel on Queensland Rail lines. Southern Downs Steam Railway (SDSR) aims to provide a unique heritage railway experience on the Darling Downs and Granite Belt through the operation of a tourist railway. SDSR is based on the site of Warwick's former Locomotive Depot.
It will run its first commercial service on Australia Day with a trip to Clifton and Hendon - phone 07 4661 9788. Granite Belt Wine & Tourism believe that the romance of travelling by steam to the Queensland premier wine region is on the cards for 2009. Click for more

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lonely Planet declares cool is hot

"Queensland's coolest town (literally) at an altitude of 915m, is one of its least-known tourist hotspots" how Lonely Planet describes Stanthorpe. (see Queensland & The Great Barrier Reef, Edition 5 - page 170.)

With four distinct seasons, summer was traditionally the time tourists visited the Granite Belt, but in the past decade winter has been hugely popular. With global warming we might see that trend reverse as Queenslanders escape the coastal heat and head for the hills. During summer the Granite Belt is typically five degrees cooler than Brisbane during the day and as much as seven degrees cooler overnight. A great reason to escape! Check out today's temps here

Monday, December 8, 2008

Record Beer Price for Charity

Rumbalara Estate's recent African Rhythm and Reds on Tap fundraiser for Aids Orphans in South Africa was boosted by a record price for a case of beer.

Not satisfied that they helped raise more than $2075.20 through beer sales and fun games at their 22 November function, owners Mike & Bobbi Cragg put $1500 on the table to purchase the last case of beer for their workers. All proceeds go to the OLSH Mission in Tzaneen in north eastern Transvaal. Date for the next Rhythm & Reds is set for 21 November 2001. To learn more click here.

Cherry Christmas

On receiving a gift box of Granite Belt produce, feature writer Alison Cotes wrote:

"Yummy, yum, yum! Thank you so much. The fruit has gone straight into my tutti frutti Christmas treat - 1 bottle brandy, 250gm sugar, stir to dissolve, add stone fruit and berries as they come into the shops. Top up with more brandy as needed. On Christmas Eve, eat the fruit over superior ice-cream, and drink the liqueur. "Thank you for making Christmas Eve even better, and have a great one yourself."

Across town at the DPI, Kaye Nunan said she whisked her fresh dill home and whipped up a fabulous potato salad for the weekend.

To find out what's in season, click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Queenslander Tops Australian Wine Awards

At Winestate magazine's 30th anniversary presentation dinner in Adelaide last night (27.11.08) southern wine snobs were in for an upset when one Queenslander romped home with top honours. Here is a highlight of the blind tasting of 10,000 wines:

  • Trophy for Wine of the Year of the Award went to Heritage Estate 2007 Chardonnay (a category which is open to red and white wines, it's the first time in 13 years a white wine has won and the first time ever a Queensland has won)
  • Trophy for the Top Chardonnay for Australia & NZ - Heritage Estate 2007 Chardonnay
Heritage Estate's Granite Belt based winemaker John Handy (son of owners Bryce & Paddy Kussulke) was in Adelaide for the presentation. John is one of the the Queensland wine capital's young gun winemakers whose performance at wine shows is commanding attention on the national stage.

Earlier this year Wine Busines Magazine referred to the Granite Belt as the title Northern Wine Capital, a rebadging of the Granite Belt's promotional tagline as being the Queensland wine capital potential. For full results click here For Heritage Estate click here

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Top 150

Ahead of Queensland's 150th birthday in 2009, the RACQ has launched a campaign to record the 150 Must-Do's in Queensland. Touring the Granite Belt Wine Country is listed amongst them. This showcase provides you with an opportunity to share your opinion on what you think. It's the top Must Do in Southeast Queensland country, overall today it is currently ranked 70 out of 150 in the state. You can have your say -

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recognition for Rooms with a View

Actually not any old room...these are deluxe studios at Azjure, which overlook the vineyards of the Ballandean valley.

Azjure only opened for business in 2007 but has already earned a place as a finalist in the most coveted accommodation category in this year's Tourism Queensland Awards. Nice work Cathryn Leigh & Ross Bloore, who meanwhile have also been restoring Queensland's oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in their own backyard. Learn more

Granite Belt clean sweep at 2008 Qld Wine Awards

Wine show wins for Granite Belt wines have been so frequent of late that it hard to know which to feature. This time let's pay tribute to the humble grape...five* of the six top wines at this year's prestigious Qld Wine awards were made from fruit grown in Queensland's premier wine region.

Top of the drops
  • White wine: 2007 Heritage Estate Wines Reserve Chardonnay*
  • Red wine: 2005 Robert Channon Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon*
  • Sparkling wine: 2007 Sirromet Wines Petit Verdot*
  • Dessert wine: 2006 The Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery Semillon/Verdelho/Chardonnay
  • Fortified Wine: 1986 Ballandean Estate Wines Red Liqueur Muscat*.
  • Most Successful Exhibitor: Robert Channon Wines*
Learn more

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Temptations for Every Adam and Eve

Hot on the heals of the launch of the Granite Belt Nude Food Trail, Sutton’s Juice Factory and Cidery just north of Stanthorpe, is opening their much anticipated Shed Café on November 24 2008.

The opening, just in time for the start of summer, is another sign that David and Roslyn Sutton have responded to the needs of visitors and lovers of fresh, natural produce. Some would argue that the original nude food began with Adam and Eve. It is appropriate therefore for this apple-centric business should celebrate the start of summer with a café where many may be tempted. For more click here

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gold at prices we can all afford

During financial uncertainty, it is little things that can bring a smile to the faces of wine drinkers in Australia. A gold medal wine that you can enjoy without extending your mortgage is bound to hit the mark.

Ballandean Estate has romped home from the Sydney International Wine show with a Blue-Gold Medal for its
2008 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (SSB)
. The wines are judged alongside food and this award indicates that this SSB was judged in the top 10% of all wines shown. They had a helping hand of course, the Estate's chief winemaker Dylan Rhymer hails from New of the long white cloud which dominates this wine style.

For more visit Ballandean Estate

Friday, November 14, 2008

Granite Belt at South Bank Growers Market

The Granite Belt comes to the city when Brisbane's South Bank hosts a Granite Belt Growers Market seasonally to showcase the best of the Granite Belt. To ensure that you are sampling the best of the Granite Belt come and meet us at the Markets on Sunday 16 November 10am to 3pm in Little Stanley Street.

Up to 40 stalls where you can sample local meats, wines, cheeses, fruit and vegetables and skin care products etc. something for the whole family. In the new year we will be bringing more products and experiences to you on the following dates:
  • Sunday 15th March 2009
  • Saturday 13th June
  • Sunday 20th September
  • Sunday 15th November
For any further information or to sign up to our E-newsletter click here.

Local Farmers Markets

Fresh, Fruity and Flavorsome, Of course we are talking about the local farmers markets on The Granite Belt. Every second and fourth Sunday each month we are set up with wonderful fresh produce ready for you to take home and enjoy. If you would like to know more about the local Farmers markets or perhaps the Markets in the Mountains.. click here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nude Food Revealed at Brisbane Good Food & Wine

Sex sells? Yes it does. Visit the 2008 Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show 7-9 November and come to stand E31 to learn more.

So what is Nude Food - well actually it's quite simple. It's food as nature intended: in region and in season. For more see click here

Happy Birthday Strange Bird

Twelve months ago Queensland’s leading winemakers launched something called Strange Bird.

More than strange’s something of a super bird, which now has its own Facebook. There’s talk of a new playmate too. Since its launch last November, Strange Bird: the Granite Belt Alternative Wine Trail has been nothing short of a hit with both consumers and the media.

The purpose of the friendly bird is to introduce wine consumers to varieties other than the classic ones they know so well. Winemakers in the Queensland wine capital launched the trail to help consumers get their taste buds around varieties couldn't pronounce or know what to eat with.

To mark Strange Bird’s first birthday the Granite Belt has found a nest on Facebook for the quirky little creature. You can become a fan of Strange Bird at its nesting place

Granite Belt Dominates Qld Wine Scene

Leading the pack of successful Granite Belt producers was Golden Grove Estate which won four trophies, including the Most Successful Queensland Exhibitor. Full results of the 2008 Australian Small Winemakers Show are downloadable - click here.

Locavores Delight

“Buy Me, I’m a Local” was the message amongst the fresh fruit and vegetables in the IGA supermarket in Young, NSW some years ago.

That’s the message Granite Belt producers want to get out ahead the relaunch of the Granite Belt Farmers Market. For those who love regional, seasonal produce – head to the gardens of the Stanthorpe Civic Centre (from Sunday 12 October). The markets will be held on the second and fourth Sundays each month from 9am to 1pm.

Situated at 1000 metres above sea level, these markets “at home” might be amongst the highest markets in the land. Granite Belt farmers say it’s the altitude which makes all the difference to the flavour and invite you to elevate your taste buds when you visit.

Locavores are those who eat from within a 100mile radius - not a problem for residents of the Granite Belt which is spoilt for choice when it comes to a broad range of wine and food. The next “away market” will be on Sunday 16 November at South Bank from 10am. For more visit

Japanese Palates Take to Granite Belt Wines

More than 1000 Japanese palates were put tempted with wines from Queensland’s Granite Belt recently and a cultural festival in Shiwa.

The event was organised by WINE-TREE which officially launched a number of Granite Belt wines in Japan on 27th October 2008.

WINE-TREE conducted a pre-testing and pre-sales promotion as part of the two days Cultural-Industrial Festival in Shiwa in Northern Japan. Shiwa is itself a wine region and shares a sister city relationship with Stanthorpe, in the heart of the Granite Belt.

Feedback from those who enjoyed tasting the wines concluded that the fine aroma and deep taste of Granite Belt wines were appreciated by the audience. Visitors who normally find red wines a bit harsh, said these wines were very smooth.

While price may make these boutique wines a special occasion or gift purchase for some, others wanted to know where they could buy the wines in Japan to enjoy more often.

Wines in the tasting were from leading Granite Belt producers Ballandean Estate, Masons Wines, Ravens Croft Wines, Ridgemill Estate, Robinson’s Family Winery, Robert Channon Wines and Summit Estate. Visit