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 that's what I call elevated taste. More - click.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spaniard wins red race

It's first past the post for Ridgemill's Tempranillo in the Queensland wine capital's 2009 vintage.

Vintage has been underway for some weeks on the Granite Belt but until yesterday, they were all white grapes. Yesterday, a little more than a tonne of the red Spanish grape was picked at Ridgemill Estate just south of Stanthorpe, making these the first red wine grapes harvested in 2009. Tempranillo is one of the alternative varieties on the region's popular Strange Bird trail.

This will be the fifth vintage for these Ridgemill vines, wines from which have gone onto win 2 silvers and 5 bronze medals and 3 in stars Winestate magazine. Click for more.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Silver Cider

Queensland has successfully mounted a challenge on the Apple Isle with a silver medal being awarded to a cider from the Sunshine State.

David (pictured) and Ros Sutton's orchard on Queensland's Granite Belt is a cidery oasis in the Queensland wine capital. Their dry cider is made from Jonathon apples and it hit the right flavour notes with judges at this year's Australian Fruit wine Show.

Hundreds of entries from across the country were judged at the end of January in this annual competition. . It was the best in show for cider & beat the specialty ciders from Fosters!.

The Suttons can add this latest accolade to a successful track record in the production of boutique juices and ciders in the past eight years. More here

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Take Ten

On 10 February 2009, the tenth vintage began for one of Queensland’s most notorious wineries. Robert Channon Wines began life fending off a legal challenge from the mighty Moet & Chandon – who thought the original choice of name (Channon Estate) was too close for comfort.

Their first harvest in 2000 was tiny because most of the fruit was destroyed by an enormous hail storm. The Channons salvaged enough to make a small quantity of Cabernet Shiraz, which won their first gold medal at the 2001 Australian Small Winemakers Show. During the ten years, the accolades have poured in. James Halliday says their Verdelho is the best he has ever tasted and amongst the many gongs have been the Trophy for Queensland’s Best White Wine (four times) and Best Red Wine (once). The energetic Channons have since built their winery, cellar door and Swigmore Hall for concerts and recently opened their Singing Lake CafĂ©.

Vintage is underway across the Granite Belt, where growing conditions have been very favourable. For more click. Watch out for 2009 early release whites during the year.

Wine anyone?

Queensland's biggest wine producer, is extending an offer which some embattled southern producers might just leap at.

Sirromet, which has extensive vineyards in the Queensland wine capital, says growing conditions on the Granite Belt have produced plenty of high quality fruit. Sirromet will crush approx 350 tons of fresh aromatic whites this year and already 25 percent has been picked and is in the bank.

Commenting on the huge temperatures which are affecting grapes down south, Sirromet chief winemaker Adam Chapman said, "Some vines and districts have lost all of their whites ." The big Queenslander is prepared to assist with some wine volume for white wines. For more - click

Friday, February 6, 2009

Not too hot - Not too wet

Southern grapes are frying on the vines, North Queenslanders have grown water wings...but in some places at least things are just fine this February.

Southerners often fail to get the message that Queensland's Granite Belt is a cool climate wine region. Perhaps the picture will tell a thousands words - this graph of recent temperatures provided by Ballandean Estate, data sourced from BOM.

No-one here wants to be smug, nor to wish others anything but the very best as they battle mother nature, but with vintage now under way in the Queensland wine capital, things are looking good.

Work is well underway in vineyards and orchards here which are elevated at 1000m above sea level. The altitude provides ideal growing conditions to create the original title as Queensland apple capital. Learn more

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good golly - greedy me and more

The oldest family name in Queensland wine - Ballandean Estate - is now home to a gourmet food gallery.

On 28th January 2009 the Puglisi family opened their new gourmet food gallery...a veritable trove of delights for every foodie. The range includes their own delectables which are sold under the Greedie Me label, plus a host of specialist produce from across the Granite Belt.

The Ballandean gallery (just south of Stanthorpe) is open every day 9-5 for more phone 07 4684 1226.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Go green - I'll drink to that!

It looks like a bottle of wine, it drinks like a bottle of wine, but it is better behaved than your average wine bottle.

In what is believed to be an Australian first, Queenslander Sirromet Winery has released a wine in a 750ml PET plastic bottle for the domestic winelover. It’s ‘First Step’ wine range features a plastic bottle; it has a screw cap and it contains the same volume of wine. The low energy packaging and is designed to reduce environmental impacts from wine production. Sirromet's vineyards are located on the Granite Belt in the Queensland wine capital.

Sirromet confirm that every element of this wine’s packaging has been carefully considered for its environmental footprint - hence the name ‘First Step’ and the footprint motif on the label. Fore more visit