Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How Low Will We Go?

January often sees Queensland sizzle day and night where even the pool or ocean provide little respite from the heat. But that's not the full story....

Just three hours from Brisbane, at 1000 metres above sea level there's a town with the reputation as Queensland's capital of cool. That's Stanthorpe! Even in the middle of summer, overnight temperatures seldom rise above 20 degrees celsius in the Granite Belt region.

Typical overnight temperatures are 5-7 degrees cooler than Brisbane - tomorrow for example folks in the Queensland wine capital will be 'chilling out' with daytime temperatures set to hit a pleasant 21 degrees...while Brisbane will be simmering at 29 degrees. While Quenslanders may be watching to see how high the mercury rises these holidays, in one place at least, it's a question of how low will we go.

Granite Belt Gets Blue

Looking for something cruisey to do this New Year's day?

Slope into the popular Lucas Estate Granite Belt Blues. Three bands will provide all day entertainment including local duo Bevi Aqua, plus rocky Brisbane talent Slidewinder and a new third band, Stolen Mojo. 11am to 5pm Lucas Estate promise to entertain revellers with a broad range of material spanning from early (pre-war) blues through Chicago Blues to modern electric boogie.
For $25 you get all day music and a commemorative wine glass filled with wine. There's great food and wine to choose from for the first 300 tickets holders. Tickets on sale now 07 4683 6365 or email wine@lucasestate.com.au.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Agapanthus Galore on the Range

Picture yourself on top of the Great Dividing Range – you are looking east over a five acre garden featuring an acre of agapanthus, a large waterfall and pond. Sound great? You can share the view with John and Michelle Burton who will open their Liston garden for charity on Saturday 2nd January 2010.

The garden was initially established in 1983, then extended in 1998 and 2002. Just to prove gardening doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag, the new sections were established using 99% of plants from cuttings, division and plants received from friends’ gardens.

The gardens will be open from 9am to dusk at 103 Red Ridge Lane, Liston and you’ll know you are there when you approach the 150 metre driveway which is lined with hydrangeas!

A cake stall, morning and afternoon tea and BBQ lunch will be provided by Bella Rosa’s Tea Rooms. Entry is $5/ adult (children free) with profits set to boost the fundraising efforts of Apple & Grape Harvest Festival Young Ambassador Jessica Williams. Jessica is sponsored by the Burton owned and operated Bella Rosa’s Tea Rooms.
Phone for directions 07 4686 1249.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A super apple a day keeps the predators away

Queensland scientists based on the Granite Belt have unveiled what they believed to be the 'world's best apple', resistant to disease and able to maintain crispy fresh for months.

Most significantly, the RS103-130 apple was created by careful cross-pollination instead of nasty genetic engineering or chemicals. This is great news for both consumers and farmers alike as the super apple is firm, crispy, sweet and boasts a number of attributes including disease resistant properties, hence requiring few if no fungicides at all.

While the apple will not be commercially available for another 5 years it has already attracted international interest and will certainly have a national application as well - bringing fruition (pun intended) to creator Simon Middleton's passion for apples.

If you don't want to wait 5 years, visit Sutton's Apple Cidery during apple season (end of January to end of July) and pick your own - a sure way to guarantee freshness!

A taste of Sri Lanka on the Granite Belt

The Granite Belt is renowned for its multiculturalism and now we can add Sri Lanka to our list of ethnic delicasies.

This week Vivienne Abeywardena releases Mixing Cultures, a cook book featuring recipes based on authentic Sri Lankan cooking that makes the most of local fresh produce. The book contains a wide variety of recipes ranging from curries to breads, accompaniments to desserts and even includes a section on high tea.

With Mixing Cultures, Vivienne hopes to encourage people to try something different without making it too difficult, making the tastes and flavours of Sri Lankan cooking easily accessible to anyone - but saving the more elaborate and adventurous recipes for her next book!

Vivienne’s recipes have already been trialled to appreciative audiences at cooking demonstrations, which she runs out of her almost newest venture – Vivienne’s Cottage in Stanthorpe.

Mixing Cultures will be available for sale through the Brisbane ABC bookstore.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Heaven is a place in Shanghai

Stanthorpe's very own Pure Heaven has launched its first international concept store in the heart of Shanghai's upmarket Minhang District.

The launch, held at the end of last month, was well received with customers delighted with the organic and bio-dynamic body care range.

Reflecting the roots of Justin and Maria Heaven's blossoming business, the store features a 30kg "Bountiful Harvest Rock Soap", moulded from a replica of granite rock from the Heaven's Stanthorpe garden.

Luckily, visitors to Stanthorpe can enjoy the real thing - minus an expensive airfare! December is perfect for a stress-relieving pre-Christmas Stanthorpe escape. With the original Pure Heaven store, lavender in abundance and the national parks flowing with fresh mountain water, make your visit a Nature & Health getaway (with a little bit of Qld wine)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Granite Belt wins top tourism award

Friday the 13th may be unlucky for some, but Azjure Studio Retreat owners Cathryn Leigh and Ross Bloore would argue otherwise.

Azjure, located just 15 minutes south of Stanthorpe on the Granite Belt, has won the Deluxe Accommodation category at the prestigious and highly competitive 2009 Queensland Tourism Awards, announced on November 13.

Outshining the competition - which included Peppers Palm Bay (Whitsundays), The Point Brisbane, Watermark Hotel and Spa Gold Coast and the Radisson Resort Gold Coast - the award highlights the growing prestige of Granite Belt & Stanthorpe accommodation.

Now is the time to beat the heat and elevate your short break experience with a weekend of luxury on the Granite Belt.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cellar Door Pass Launches in Queensland

Queensland's Granite Belt smartens up its tourist offering from this week's Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show. Wine lovers can now use a smart card to visit the state's premier wine region and purchase some of the Granite Belt's top drops.

The Cellar Door Pass Granite Belt package is the first of its kind for Queensland. Six participating wineries based around Stanthorpe join more than 100 wineries in Australia's leading wine regions in accepting the card. Having sold 10,000 annually, card provider Smartvisit Solutions says for wine consumers across the country, the package uncorks VIP treatment to them when they visit participating cellar doors.

Pictured here representatives from Heritage Estate, Ballandean Estate, Granite Ridge (front row) and rear Symphony Hill plus support from Smartvisit Solutions. Also participating are Golden Grove Estate and Summit Estate. On the day the system was installed in the region, four cards were sold in the first hour at Granite Ridge Wines.

Learn more at the Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show November 6-8 (Stand A6) or visit Cellar Door Pass Granite Belt online now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moved to Tears

The results of the most prestigious wine show for small winemakers in Australia and New Zealand, The Australian Small Winemakers Show, reaffirms Stanthorpe’s pedigree as Queensland’s premier wine and wine grape producing region.

Last night’s presentation dinner, held at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism in Stanthorpe, raised the benchmark for boutique wineries across the South Pacific. Granite Belt wineries and viticulturalists performed solidly, with the most memorable award going to Stanthorpe’s Lucas Estate.

When the gold medal and Trophy for Queensland’s Best Shiraz was announced, Lucas Estate winemaker Louise Samuel was stunned. Five minutes later, when the award for Technical Excellence in Queensland Winemaking was given to Lucas Estate for their TOTAL performance at the show with the winning of an addition Gold Medal for the Petit Verdot 2008, Louise was in total shock.

Sadly since 2006 the estate’s owners, Louise Samuel and Colin Sellers struggled through some tough times culminating in the loss of Colin to cancer in June 2008. Louise has since carried on the business, including all the wine making with what has now proven to be spectacular results and a fitting tribute to her late husband Colin.

The Australian Small Winemakers Show is held annually in Stanthorpe and this year attracted a record 1812 entries. Other Granite Belt trophy recipients were Golden Grove Estate and Robert Channon Wines.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nine Gold Bottles

Following the tradition of eight previous vintages, Robert Channon Wines new release 2009 Verdelho has won a gold medal in its first wine show.

Starting in 2001, the first three vintages each won the Trophy for Queensland’s Best White Wine. James Halliday describes the wines as “by far the best Verdelhos I have ever tasted” and more recently as “arguably Australia’s foremost producer of Verdelho.”

Peter Scudamore Smith MW added that the 2002, 2003 and 2004 vintages of Robert Channon Verdelho are “probably the greatest lineage of this varietal in the world.”

The eight vintages of Robert Channon Verdelhos, made entirely from grapes grown in the Robert Channon vineyards at Stanthorpe, have won 7 trophies, 10 gold medals, and numerous other awards including a silver medal at the London International Wine Show. This means in Australian wine circles, this wine is still “THE Verdelho”.

View the full results online at Granite Belt Wine Country and discover more about Qld’s premier wine region. To try the new 2009 Queensland Wine Award gold medal winning vintage, visit Robert Channon Wines on the Granite Belt or contact 07 4683 3260.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Wine Racing

Who said country racing in Queensland is dead? Amongst almost 3000 gathered at Stanthorpe's Armstrong Park for the annual Cup Day was this group of eight.

A far more attractive bunch than the other G8, these Gold Coast gals call themselves "The Wine Club". They reported having such a fun weekend they've already started planning their return visit for the 2010 Stanthorpe Cup. Doubtless too they will be planning their wardrobes. One filly, Meredith Blackmore (right), was pipped at the post in the Fashions of the Field this year, defeat she takes as a challenge for her return visit to the Granite Belt.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Qld’s Premier Wine Region – and we have it in writing

In case there was any doubt, the results of the 26th Annual Queensland Wine Awards sponsored by The Courier Mail and Mercure Brisbane this month reinforce the reputation of the Granite Belt as Queensland’s premier wine producing region.

Golden Grove, Harrington Glen, Heritage Estate Wines, Hidden Creek, Robert Channon Wines and Tobin Wines won eight out of a possible eleven Gold medals. Sixteen out of a possible twenty-three Silver medal were also awarded to Granite Belt wineries as were a whopping sixty-three bronze medals.

A special congratulations goes out to Heritage Estate Wines who were awarded the trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor for winning two gold, two silver and three bronze as well as the trophy for best white wine. Golden Grove was not far behind with two gold, one silver and four bronze. Hidden Creek won the Best Red Wine and Champion Wine of the Show and to spare this becoming an incredibly long blog I suggest checking out the full results on the Granite Belt Wine Country website. Or better still, spend a weekend in Stanthorpe and taste for yourself what all the judges are raving about.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Desert Storm on the Granite Belt

Anyone on the Granite Belt this past week could be forgiven for thinking they were in the Middle East. The huge sandstorm tinged the sky orange, and blurred the usually picturesque landscape.

Most of us spent the day trying to keep the dust out of our eyes, mouths and homes. But the avid eye of local photographer Cory Rossiter took advantage of the unusual scene and used it to his artistic advantage at the Granit Belt pyramid. The images, taken at around 8am at Ballandean, are reminisce of the originals - minus the goats, camels and Egyptians.

Quite apt really, considering the Muslim world is celebrating Eid - although at least in Stanthorpe we can enjoy it with great wine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Harrington Glen finalist in Young Winemakers award

The Granite Belt has produced plenty of fine award winning vintages of late. But when such accolades go to our young winemakers, especially those who have studied, trained and worked in the region, we can’t help but feel a special pride.

Harrington Glen winemaker Stephen Oliver was recently named as a 2009 Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year finalist. The winner of ten finalists, selected from across Australia and New Zealand, will be awarded the prestigious title at Sydney in November.

Stephen completed his viticulture and winemaking studies at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, has trained under local wine guru Jim Barnes and produces award winning wine for Harrington Glen Estate in Glen Aplin.

To learn more about this award, visit the Wine Society Young Winemakers website. Or better still, come visit Stephen at Harrington Glen and stay at the unique Trainhouse.

If a short break to the Granite Belt is not an option at the moment, come sample and purchase his wine at the Granite Belt Growers Market at Southbank this Sunday, 20th September on Little Stanley Street from 10am.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Take the road less travelled to the Granite Belt

A short break in the country needn't be a hurried affair. Sometimes it's the journey which is the main event.

Driving to Stanthorpe via the New England highway is obviously the most expedient way of getting to the Granite Belt quickly. But very occasionally the highway may be closed, and at other times the spirit may wander. If that's the case you need to know you can still find us!

Spring is a time for romance and new experiences so it's a good time to share the latest Granite Belt scenic route map with you. See you here! Not sure? Learn more at www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nude Food Calendar unwrapped

The unseasonably warm weather yesterday provided the perfect conditions to whip the covers off the Granite Belt's new Nude Food calendar.

The calendar features photos from in and around Stanthorpe with almost all taken by members of the community across the Queensland wine capital. Celery grower Peter Harslett proved a popular choice for the front cover with other talent revealed inside.

The theme for the 2010 calendar was Strange Bird meets Nude Food on the Granite, a natty way of promoting its two self-drive visitor tours for those pursuing good wine and food. The monthly themes reflect what's in season on the Granite Belt. Online each month a recipe will be posted, beginning with a delicious garlic mushroom recipe using Granite Belt mushrooms of course!
The calendar is an initiative of Granite Belt Wine & Tourism Inc (GBWT) a not-for-profit community group. The calendar is available from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre with proceeds being reinvested into promoting the region.
Public reaction to the calendar has been very favourable, although two women complained that there wasn't enough bare flesh. [Hard to please some people isn't it!] Photographers can take inspiration from the first edition and start now on their next entries. New vintage wines is the September theme, with spring (Primavera) being the time when new vintages are released.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Vacancy? No Problem!

One way to avoid drinking and driving in a wine region is to bring your home with you. Visiting a winery and looking at a motor home is the somewhat novel idea of Mountview Wines. The family-owned winery just south of Stanthorpe is hosting a weekend expo in association with Motorhome Conversion Co. And if the idea of owning a traditional motor home doesn’t appeal to you, the Brisbane based company has a great reputation for converting buses and vans into your personal home on wheels.

The September exhibition (19th and 20th) also includes a range of Granite Belt produce from Glen Aplin’s Nature’s Glen, producers of locally procured honey and jams. They are apparently Queensland’s first saffron grower.

The McGrath family will make you welcome to Mountview with a free sausage sizzle, use of their community pizza oven and picnic grounds. Also on offer will be their 2008 Bloody Good Red which will be available by the glass. Plan a weekend trip to Stanthorpe in September and who knows, you may end up investing in a trip of a lifetime!

Visit the Granite Belt event pages to find out more.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Forget Paris... it’s love on the Granite Belt

It appears expensive trips to Paris are no longer in vogue. Love is in the air on the Granite Belt as the boys have been busy planning romantic proposals for their lucky ladies.

Alure Boutique Villas alone have had four such engagements in the last two months. And with the efforts of Stanthorpe accommodation operators like Marion Carrick, this trend is likely to grow.

What’s more ladies, savings on ticket prices alone will not only leave plenty of spare change for a truly romantic proposal, complete with beds of roses and candle lit dinners, think of the potential increase in diamond size!

With spring just around the corner, what better time to take that important next step with your loved one... Flowers in bloom, strolling through the vineyards as the grapes blossom and beautiful sunsets as your hosts secretly arrange your private plans. For a truly romantic experience, have a look at some of our luxurious Stanthorpe accommodation options and get some romantic proposal ideas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Come sit At Our Table

Granite Belt residents love a good celebration and as Queensland turns 150, we want you to celebrate with us. As part of the range of Q150 and State Library of Queensland’s At Our Table events, Stanthorpe has been selected as one of ten regions to honour the cultural heritage of our State.

The Granite Belt’s unique multi-culturalism is reflected in the wide range of food and wine produced in and around Stanthorpe, with equally abundant traditions and histories. All of these will be commemorated on Sunday 23 August when the Queensland College of Wine Tourism hosts The Winemaker’s Story - a day of good food, fine wine and tales of the Granite Belt. A great opportunity to learn the techniques of Queensland’s premier winemakers, sample locally produced cheese and wine and taste the culinary delights of resident chef Andrew Simpson; and with activities for the kids, it is an interesting day out for the whole family.

Secure a place by booking online through the Granite Belt Wine Tourism website, and download the Q150 brochure to find out more information, or follow similar stories on the Queensland State Library Blog Site.

The Winemaker’s Story proudly supported by ourbrisbane.com, Queensland College of Wine Tourism, Granite Belt Wine Tourism, Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries and Southern DownsRegional Council Library Services – Stanthorpe Library.

Image courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Modest musician gets the right recognition

Queensland aboriginal songwriter Kev Carmody, a Granite Belt resident based at Ballandean, was humbled to hear of his forthcoming induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame on the 27th August.

While many critics have dubbed him the Aboriginal Australian Bob Dylan, Mr. Carmody believes he is entering the Hall of Fame with the lowest record sales in history. Such modesty highlights the performers’ modesty, and is in no way a reflection of his successful career that has seen the release of more than seven albums in his unique folk/protest style.
Carmody will be inducted at the Melbourne ceremony alongside other music greats including Little Pattie, John Paul Young, The Dingoes and Mental As Anything.

For Queensland based fans there will also be a tribute concert , Cannot Buy My Soul, at the Brisbane Riverstage on the 1st August as part of the Queensland Music Festival, with performers including Missy Higgins and Bernard Fanning. For more information visit Kev Carmody’s website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Train Whistle Blowing

Residents may be forgiven for believing they have morphed back to a bygone era in late August as the Q150 steam train pulls into the Stanthorpe and Wallangarra railway platform. The Q150 celebrations involve not only honouring the uniqueness of Queensland’s communities, but rekindling the vital thread between rural and city life, of which the Queensland rail system was paramount.

Stanthorpe will be the first major stop for the train and passengers will be able reminisce and learn about the golden age of rail travel – complete with character artists, a celebratory toast, presentations by local historians and a formal welcome by the mayor alongside an indigenous Elder. Prior to arrival in Stanthorpe - during the stop in Warwick - there will be the egging of the Prime Minister, but unfortunately, security restrictions since the original incident prevent a ‘true’ re-enactment!.

To jump aboard and enjoy an historical experience to share with your children and grandchildren, call 1800 QLD 150 (1800 753 150) or visit a Travel Train booking office. To find out more about the Q150 Steam Train visit the Granite Belt Wine Country website.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ballandean Gets Fruity Again

If you’ve been travelling through the Granite Belt lately and noticed something askew in Ballandean, fear not. Beloved Fruity (Fruitisforus) has returned from dinosaur hospital to a warm welcome by members of the Ballandean Hall Committee who manoeuvred him back to his usual position near the highway.

While Fruity has long since retired from public performances as a Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Festival float, he is still wooing the crowds as a popular Ballandean tourist attraction. Not to be left lonely in his retirement, Fruity will be rejoined by his parade peers in the coming weeks as they too return from similar joint replacements customary to those of a mature age.

On the same topic (and no we don’t mean the ageing process), the Ballandean Hall Committee is looking for any lovely ladies who may have represented the district in the Apple & Grape Harvest Festival or its predecessor the Apple Blossom Festival. Please contact Chook Williamson on 07 4684 1077 (and no, he won’t send you off to dinosaur hospital).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hat Trick for Granite Ridge Cabernet

Yet another Granite Belt winery has joined the prestigious ranks of award winning winemakers. This time it is Granite Ridge Wines’ 2006 Top Block Cabernet Sauvignon which picked up the top gong.

The wine won the Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Trophy for best Queensland Red Wine at the recent City Life Cairns Show Awards.

The competition included some of Australia’s biggest names in winemaking from over 70 entries, reaffirming the Granite Belt’s established reputation as Queensland’s premium wine region. The pedigree of the gold medal winning Cabernet was further confirmed by the equal points it shared with the competition’s Champion Red. Granite Ridge winemaker Dennis Ferguson believes this is not only the result of quality viticulture, but a reflection of ideal cool climate growing conditions in and around Stanthorpe.To find out more about exciting new releases of Granite Belt wines this spring, visit Primavera.

Ekka time for Stanthorpe Apples & Wine

The countdown is on for Brisbane's EKKA as it is affectionately known. The ever-popular Stanthorpe apple display in the fresh fruit and veg. pavilion is this year being sponsored by the region's local tourist organisation.

In addition to some cash sponorship from Granite Belt Wine & Tourism Inc (GBWT), the apple growers will cut quite a dash in their smart aprons. Across the river the Granite Belt Wine Country livery has been making its mark at South Bank markets.
Leading the team of apple growers to the Ekka is Bruno Stefanon and like most locals, he's more than happy to promote his region.

Over in the wine Woolworths Fresh Food pavilion is a team of Granite Belt wineries. You can sample or purchase wine during the ten days from Ballandean Estate, Casley Mount Hutton, Golden Grove Estate, Granite Ridge Wines, Heritage Estate, Ridgemill Estate and Summit Estate Wines.
On the adjoining celebrity stage you can get another peak at the Granite Belt at 3pm on opening day when Alison Alexander showcases some fine food and wine from the region. Again at 1pm on Saturday 8th July apple grower, juice and cider maker David Sutton joins Alison on the stage.
The big push for the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt team is to promote the delights of Spring in the region which is celebrated under the Primavera banner. Primavera features three months of wine, food and cultural events, plus the delights of nature. Learn more http://www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au/pages/primavera-spring/

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Telly and Online

Being the media tarts that we are, we just had to tell you that we've loaded some of our recent video clips online. So - if you missed them the first time - here they are again on YouTube.

The Granite Belt is on the popular path for travel and lifestyle film crews and we never shy from showing off what we have to offer.

Sometimes these stories go to air while we are busy in the wineries and kitchens of the Granite Belt so we don't get to see them live. But thanks to You Tube these moments can be enjoyed again and again. To learn more about the real thing, come to the Granite Belt in person.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Granite Belt to Rival Barossa & Margaret River

While locals have long argued that the Granite Belt has the potential to rival other wine super-regions, others are quickly catching on. A recent feature article by wine guru Max Allen in The Weekend Australian listed the Granite Belt as Australia's "Future Region" for wine making.

Allen's observations that the Granite Belt has terroir in spades, delighted those in the Queensland wine capital in and around the main town of Stanthorpe.

The article highlighted the cultural and geographic uniqueness of the region as becoming more and more attractive to Australia's increasingly savvy wine market. Matched by growing specialisation by regional winemakers, the Granite Belt is set to become recognised nationally for quality, uniqueness and historical value.

Check out our website to find out more about unique wines on the Stange Bird Wine Trail and the history of the Granite Belt.

Eat, Drink and be Merry in Xmas in Winter

Who says Santa only comes once a year? Maybe it's the cold weather, or the likelihood of snow this year, but Santa is making the Granite Belt home this winter.

And for good reason. A variety of Christmas themed dinners at The Rocks Restaurant, Felsberg Winery, Whiskey Gully Wines, Claudia's Country Restaurant, Murray Gardens, Giardino Cafe and Queensland College of Wine Tourism plus Market in the Mountains, looks set to make the Granite Belt THE place for mid-year yuletide celebrations in July and August.

With temperatures regularly below zero and fireplaces already burning, this winter could see a repeat of last year's sleet and hopefully of snow. Yes snow in Queensland! The prospect of snow re-inforces Stanthorpe's reputation of not only being the coolest place in Queensland, but also the best place to bring family and friends this winter. For a full list of upcoming events, look online for events calendar for July and August and Stanthorpe accommodation bookings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nude Food Calendar - July revealed

From the coolest place in Queensland that brought you Strange Bird, and then Nude Food....Stanthorpe is about to combine these two quirky identities into a 2010 photo calendar.

Each month is themed, and the recent community photo competition organised by Granite Belt Wine & Tourism Inc (GBWT) called for images that reflected that theme.

Photos taken in Queensland’s Granite Belt have been judged with the top 12 finding a place in the new Strange Bird meets Nude Food on the Granite Belt calendar which is now in production. Strange Bird is the name for the region’s alternative wine trail, and Nude Food for its self-drive food trail.

GBWT has revealed only one winning photo, the remainder will be kept under wraps until the calendar launch on Sunday 23rd August. July was themed Brass Monkey Season and it the winning photo has been revealed. Stanthorpe is known as the coldest place in Queensland and Brass Monkey Season® is the successful winter tourist promotion which runs each year in June, July and August. Photographer Dennis Marsden has given the Brass Monkey a little winter cheer, with an award-winning bottle of Granite Belt Shiraz.

The calendar will be available for sale at the launch and from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre with all proceeds being reinvested to promoting the Granite Belt.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen to Tour The Granite Belt

The big smoke is heading our way. The 'Fifteen' Melbourne, a foundation started by global superchef Jamie Oliver that trains troubled youth to become world class chefs, will be visiting the Granite Belt as the competition nears its finale.

The final three will tour Stanthorpe and surrounds as part of the foundation's paddock to plate learning experience. The visit will culminate in a five course charity dinner at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism on Wednesday, July 22. Ballandean Estate, The Bramble Patch, Symphony Hill and Heritage Wines will feature amongst regional producers providing the ingredients for the chef's signature dishes.

This is the first time 'Fifteen' Melbourne has ventured outside its home state of Victoria and the tour is organised by the area's regional tourist organistion. It allows the ambitious chefs the opportunity to learn about the variety and quality of produce available from the Granite Belt. See the College at http://www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au/accom_result1/queensland-college-of-wine-tourism/

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Saffron Harvest at Robert Channon Wines

Robert Channon will be keeping his saffron plants as comfortable as possible during Stanthorpe’s cold winter months. And for good reason. Saffron rates as the most expensive spice in the world. 75,000 flowers and 20 hours of labour produce a mere 450 grams of saffron threads. The first crop of saffron from the new crocus plantation has been lovingly hand-picked by a team of careful labourers. Early estimates put the crop at just under 25 grams. It is hoped that this will increase sixfold in the next year of production.

The crocus plantation adjoins the new oak forest, which Robert and Peggy Channon hope will shortly be producing their first truffles. Another first for the Granite Belt.

To enjoy the fragrant and colorful delights of saffron infused cooking, come to ‘Spain on a Plate’- fare with flamenco flare by Tony Southgate, at the Singing Lake Café at Robert Channon Wines on Saturday July 25 ($39 per person). The mouth-watering menu, including the new saffron in the paella, visit http://www.robertchannonwines.com/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

She's Apples

Amongst Queensland's iconic top ten events is the Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest festival. It's official and was announced by Premier Anna Bligh during Queensland Week in what is Queensland's 150th birthday year.

The Apple & Grape has been around 44 years and age has not wearied her. The bi-ennial festival takes the form of a giant three day street party and it's on again 5-7 March 2010. Learn more http://www.appleandgrape.org/

If you can't wait until then to see Bella (grape) and Jonno (apple) then watch the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers parade in Toowoomba on 19th September.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food and Wine with Peter Howard

The Regional Flavours at South Bank this Saturday (13 June) includes a series of cooking demonstrations with celebrity chef Peter Howard (right). From 10am Peter will produce a number of dishes using Granite Belt produce, and each matched with a Granite Belt wine. These include:
  • Granite Belt Venison Sautéed with Bramble Patch raspberry vinegar glaze and spiced pears.
  • Harslett’s Asian Slaw with Sutton’s apple syrup dressing and chicken skewers
  • Fish broth with fish and Ecoprama’s tofu
  • Char grilled Mediterranean vegetable salad with Sandmill’s pesto dressing and Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Pepato cheese
  • Hawker Brother’s Italian pork sausage and braised Borlotti beans

Accompanying these dishes will be wines from Pyramids Road, Casley Mount Hutton, Heritage Wines, Sirromet, Ridgemill, Golden Grove and Granite Ridge.

Demonstrations will be held at 10, 10.30, 11, 12noon, 12.30pm and again at 2pm at Little Stanley Street.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wine with Latitude

STOP PRESS... vinegar and verjus supremo LiraH has just picked their Nebbiolo grapes a whole four days after the official start to winter in Stanthorpe.

No vinegar here, this variety LiraH will be bottling as wine - I'll drink to that! Founder Ian Henderson says these are probably the last Nebbiolo grapes to be harvested in the Southern Hemisphere this year. In Barolo (Italy), the ancestral home of Nebbiolo they pick “Christmas Day” Nebbiolo. Ian heard of this so in 2005 he left the fruit on the vines till June, harvested it and made a dry red wine.

Ian makes the Nebbiolo in collaboration with Warren Smith of Pyramids Woad Wine. The fruit's distinct characteristics come from the Granite Belt region's latitude - it's northerly situation provides plenty of Queensland sun to enable the fruit to ripen fully. Get the full story on You Tube or the website http://www.lirah.com.au/

If you are in Brisbane on Saturday 13 June you can taste LiraH and other great Granite Belt produce at Regional Flavours at South Bank 10am-3pm.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strange Bird lays again

Eighteen months after Strange Bird first left the nest to create the Granite Belt alternative wine trail, there's been another hatching.

Three new wineries have joined the trail and the total number of alternative wines has passed the 50 mark. Making their debut on the trail are wines from Felsberg and Rumbalara just south of Stanthorpe, and from Heritage on the northern approach to the Queensland wine capital.

Strange Bird has captured the imagination of wine consumers and media alike...a hit in print and on the small screen. Starlets which appear on the updated trail include Cabernet Franc and Jacques. Learn more about who is on the trail, what is on the trail, and how to get to Queensland's Granite Belt visit http://www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au/pages/strange-bird/

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Buon Appetito

A professional Italian pizza maker, turned back-packer, has given the Mountview Wines new wood-fired pizza oven the thumbs up.

For eight years Sasciaj (Sasha) Cozzi enjoyed a formidable reputation for his pizzas and foccacias at Del Borgo in Milan. Then with his Scottish partner Jenna Cairney he travelled to Queensland, to pick apples in Stanthorpe. Sasciaj heard that Mountview’s oven was open to the community, so he put on a pizza party for his newfound “family” and friends. They shared fresh pizza and several bottles of Mountview's Bloody Good Red.

The Granite Belt’s multi-cultural community meant Sasciaj could get all the traditional pizza and foccacia ingredients. He said, “I couldn’t believe it – right here I was able to buy Molesini 00 flour, my favourite yeast and malt and really good olive oil. I can tell you, I didn’t find that when I stayed with Jenna’s family in Scotland!”

Interestingly Sasciaj (pictured) had never before used a wood-fired oven, and in Liguria he had never made round pizza. But he adapted easily and the only lament of his appreciative audience is that the young couple has now hit the road to travel north to soak up some Queensland sunshine.

Use of the facilities is free, simply contact David or Angela McGrath on 0418 985 393 and bring your pizza bases, toppings and friends along.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is it a train? Is it a house?

Actually it's a trainhouse and it overlooks Harrington Glen's nine acre vineyard just south of Stanthorpe.

This makes a great addition to the boutique accommodation on the Granite Belt. The carriage hails from Melbourne and was one of 20 originally purchased from Victorian Railways by a Molong man. In 2007 Harrington Glen's Harry Ireland was taking his grandson to Dubbo zoo....they took a detour and saw this carriage. Harry bought it and has spent two years lovingly restoring and converting it. It now it provides tourist accommodation for those wanting a very different room with a view in the Queensland wine capital.
The trainhouse opened in May 2009 and features three en-suite bedrooms, plus a fully equipped kitchen. The autumn views at the moment are spectacular and when you alight the train you can sample the wines from their Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Verdelho, Voignier or White Muscat.

Monday, May 4, 2009

See us on telly

The latest media to be intrigued by the Strange Bird story is Postcards Australia. A crew toured the Granite Belt recently for a segment to be broadcast on Win TV/Channel Nine in June. This self-drive tour through the vineyards of producers of alternative grape varieties has captured the imagination of virtually every wine commentator in the country.

Next week it is Nude Food which is attracting the interest from the Great South East - the popular travel and leisure programme broadcast by Channel Seven.

Nude Food has taken the fancy of Des Houghton who previewed the planned 2010 calendar by Granite Belt foodies in last weekend's Courier Mail. But as Des rightly records, Nude Food is natural. It's all about food that is in region and food that is in season. Nothing rude about at all! The calender is themed Strange Bird meets Nude Food on the Granite Belt.

Participants of these two self-drive trails will be packing up their produce and travelling to Brisbane next month for a spectacular showcase at South Bank on Saturday June 13th. We'll tell you more shortly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Anzac Day at the Pyramids

Its a long way from Anzac Cove - and even Egypt for that matter - but the 20 metre granite pyramid at Henty Estate, Ballandean will form the backdrop for an unusual Anzac Day service on the Granite Belt this year .

Beginning at 5.15pm on Saturday 25 April, the memorial service will be conducted by pupils from neighbouring Ballandean State School. The programme includes a lunch option at Mason's winery before the service, or to stay for an informal supper afterwards. The programme is organised by the Brisbane Variety Club as part of their weekend safari to Stanthorpe with proceeds going to a number of local children charities across the Granite Belt.

Novel idea - great cause - learn more from Peter Watters

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stanthorpe Apples – The Celebrity Choice

Queensland ambassador chef for the state’s Q150 celebrations, David Pugh, has included Stanthorpe apples in his list of the top 15 food items in the state. His choice is quite specific, he wants Suttons apples.

Over at Hamilton, Bretts Wharf celebrity chef Alastair McLeod (pictured) shares the view that Stanthorpe apples are tops. Alastair is featuring them on national TV on "9am with David and Kim” at the end of this month.
Learn more here

Monday, March 23, 2009

Apple & Grape - Vote Now

Stanthorpe's Apple & Grape Harvest Festival is currently listed in the Top 300 icons in the state.

As part of the Q150 celebrations you can vote - see how far up the list we can get this festival which invented wine tourism in Queensland. To vote note - click here
The Festival returns to Queensland's apple and grape capital on 5th, 6th and 7th March 2010 - click for more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Qld Vote Goes to the Wire

In the end “Australia” won by the narrowest of margins. The question posed to online pollsters recently was “how should wine from the Queensland wine capital be labelled: Granite Belt, Queensland or Granite Belt, Australia?”

The survey was conducted online by Granite Belt Wine & Tourism Inc (GBWT). Voting closed this week with “Australia” winning by one per cent. Learn more - click

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Newest bird on the block

This is another one to add to the Strange Bird collection on the Granite Belt alternative wine trail. It's from Georgia (on the Black Sea, not the one in the USA) and its a little red grape called Saperavi.

The first vintage of this newest addition to the Strange Bird line-up has just been completed at Ridgemill Estate just south of Stanthorpe. Believed to be the first vintage of this variety in Queensland, these grapes are being lovingly turned into red wine, in Ridgemill's inimitable style. The first harvest was very very small so release will be restricted to a few select people later this year.

If you've already enjoyd Saperavi - leave a comment.

Strange Bird meets Nude Food on the Granite Belt

It's a nude calendar with a difference. Plans are well underway for Granite Belt Wine & Tourism's new nude food and wine calendar for 2010.

The calendar concept builds on two successful self-drive trails through and around the town of Stanthorpe which is Queensland's apple and grape capital. Strange Bird is the name given to the Granite Belt alternative wine trail. Nude Food is the name of the region's food trail which promotes the fact that food in region and food in season is what nature intended. It's nude!

Nude of course doesn't have to mean rude...as depicted so well in the hit comedies Calendar Girls and The Full Monty. Inspired by Adam & Eve, on the Granite Belt the bird is tempted by the apple.

Each month has a food and wine theme and a community competition is being held to select twelve photos. Learn more: Photo competition. Advertising opportunities. About the Granite Belt

Snow at The Summit?

Looks like snow, and its been known to fall in Queeensland's Granite Belt region, but it is March. Just before 2pm yesterday (16 March) a severe hailstorm whipped through the northern part of the Granite Belt. Just north of Stanthorpe, the area known as the Summit, experienced some of the worst falls.

Although the white stuff looked like a carpet of snow on the ground,damage to local vegetable famrers were severe. Thankfully for the vineyards of Summit Estate (pictured) vintage on the white grapes is complete and the reds were spared, but staff had to wade through the winery for a little while!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rock Solid claims James Halliday

Following his most recent visit to Stanthorpe and surrounds, Australian wine guru James Halliday reports in the Weekend Australian that the Granite Belt is a solid base for grape growers. And for any southerner who doesn't believe it gets cold enough to grow grapes in Queensland, it actually snowed the day Halliday toured the region last year!

A number of producers get a guernsey in Halliday's Weekend Australian report, with special mentions for Boireann Winery and Robert Channon Wines - the latter he describes as arguably Australia's foremost producer of verdelho.... For the full story click here.

Southern Downs Steam Train

If you missed their first outing on the Australia Day weekend - then the Brown Bomber is out again. Travelling from Warwick, the train will run through to Wallangarra on the QLD/NSW state border on Saturday 4 April and Sunday 26 April. Relive the romance of steam - for more contact 07 4661 3122.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Two top 100 spots for Granite Belt

This year Queensland turns 150 and to mark the occasion, the RACQ launched 150 Must-Do's in Queensland to provide the public with an opportunity to share their opinion on what is the best.

Voting ran from 18 November 2008 to 31 January 2009 and more than 150,000 votes were registred. The Granite Belt was delighted to make the top 100, not just once, but twice:
  • At 89 is a Tour of the Granite Belt Wine Country - for more click
  • At number 92 is Girraween National Park - for more click

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Granite Belt at South Bank

They are packing up their wine, their fresh and value added food products and other goodies and bringing them to you.

On Sunday 15th March, the best of the Granite Belt will be back at Brisbane's South Bank. Bring your trolley and your palate to Little Stanley Street in South Brisbane between 10am and 3pm. Meet the producers of wine, food, lavender and more - hear their stories, sample their produce. Supermarket shopping was never this good! Visit the Granite Belt Wine Country online.

If you can't make it to South Bank in March...note your calendar for Saturday 13 June when there will be a huge Queensland regional flavours market as part of the celebrations for Queensland's 150th birthday.

Queensland Decides

Queensland politicians may be waiting for exit polls on 21st March, but they’ll be pipped at the post by a new survey being undertaken by Granite Belt winemakers. Wine – in moderation – is infinitely more interesting than politics, they believe.

Under Australian law, wine labels must carry certain information – the big question is: how should Queensland’s top drops be identified? Should they read “Granite Belt, Queensland” or, should they read “Granite Belt, Australia”? Both are legal, but what does the consumer want?

It is a timely question as - for the first time ever – the 2008 Wine of the Year in Winestate magazine came from the Granite Belt. It beat off 10,000 all-comers from across the country, busting the myth that Queenslanders can’t make wine. VOTE NOW.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Say Cheese

Eighteen months ago Karen Deeth (right) and Ross Burnett opened Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese just north of Stanthorpe and have been smiling ever since.

Public demand has been so great that they've grown from being open at weekends, to now opening seven days a week. From Thursday 26 February 2009 they'll be open day from 10am till 4pm. From 30 purebred Jersey cows they produce about five tonnes of cheese a year, which pops up all over the place on the Granite Belt. But, if you want to visit the source, you can enjoy a cheese platter and a glass of local wine or coffee and homemade cheesecake in their new licensed courtyard cafe. For more - click.

School Dinners

Question - When are school dinners not school dinners?
Answer - When it's dinner served at Banca Ridge Bistro at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism.

Chef Andrew Simpson (centre) and his students, are now open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm. Try their two course special and summer menu. The college is based in Stanthorpe in the Queenlsand wine capital. For more click.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bosa Nova on the Belt

From Italy with love...entertainment by Barraco, is a fusion of music by Brazilian Berto and his Florentine sweeheart Silvia. Their music has a strong Brazilian influence which you can experience at Whiskey Gully Wines on Friday 27 February 2009. You can bring your own instrument or your favourite toe taping shoes ...because they'll encourage you to join in. From 7pm at 25 Turners Road, Severnlea. Bar and meals available.

The restaurant at Whiskey Gully has a regular and popular programme of events with Folk Nights, Music Nights and dinners with Celebrity Chefs. Worth checking with them frequently for the latest talent - click here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bigger Bella

Bella Rosa's has just extended both the seating capacity and opening hours of its tea rooms on the northern approach to Stanthorpe.

From breakfast teas to high teas, their offering now includes what many Australians call "tea" (or dinner to some of us). This little Granite Belt gem is on the northern approach to Stanthorpe and is now open daily from 6am. For more click

PS: Outside Queensland and want to follow food in the Sunshine State? click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pie finalist eats the profits

Vincenzo's at the Big Apple the food and wine landmark north of Stanthorpe (pictured) might not have won the Courier Mail's Australia Day meat pie award, but according to the owners Vince Catanzaro and Vince Cavallaro say they sell like hotcakes.

The man behind the counter Vince, or is that Vince, said its all in the quality of the ingredients. The Vincenzo's meat pie is the chunky variety, weighing on average 330gm. This outweighs the average pie which steps onto the scales at a mere 190gm.

The judges may not have voted the Vincenzo's pie the champ, but the hundreds that walk out the door each week speak for themselves. For more click

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lunch on Q

Brisbane foodies - the best value lunch in town is making a popular come back. February 23 to March 6 you'll be treated to a two course lunch and a glass of wine for just $30pp....all this and you get to eat at one of Brisbane's best restaurants.

Following the successful launch in July 2008 - it was decided to share the goodwill twice a year. Participating restaurants include Baguette Bistro + Bar, Freestyle Tout Emporium, White Rabbit Bistro, Restaurant Manx, Harveys Bistro + Bar, Restaurant Two and Jelly Fish.

While there, you'll have the chance to samples wines from Ballandean Estate, Boireann, Robert Channon Wines, Sirromet, and Symphony Hill Wines - top producers of the Queensland wine capital. Click for more

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hearty Fare at Claudia's

Claudia's a crafty country cook who knows how to put together a themed dinner with her latest effort a celebration of Valentine's Day.

Last night the room and tables were decorated with love hearts, we were served champagne cocktail de Passion on arrival - and we were serenaded by a talented pianist and vocalist. But the hearts kept coming - the fabulous creamy garlic prawns were served on a heart of rice; the Beef Wellington was adorned with pastry hearts and for dessert there were heart shaped pasties filled with luscious chocolate mousse.

Romance aside, Claudia and her husband Keith will press on with planning their next Queen's birthday dinner, their Bastille Day celebrations then their annual Oktoberfest. For more click here

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Elevated Taste of Gold

How does Symphony Hill top is achievement of being the first ever Queensland winery to win gold at Sydney's Royal Show? Simple - by being the second Queensland winery to win gold at the Sydney Royal Show.

They first did it with their 2003 Reserve Shiraz and this second achievement goes to their 2006 Reserve Shiraz. What makes this drop so special? Owners Ewen & Elise Macpherson (above) say its all in the intensely flavoured fruit. The vineyards you see are elevated a further 200m from those in Ballandean on Queensland's Granite Belt. The colder climate grape produces a more elegant wine....now that's what I call elevated taste. More - click.