Monday, January 31, 2011

We love you Queensland: have a Fab Feb on the Granite Belt

In February we want to share the love. We are offering deals of 30% OFF regular prices. These Fab Feb hot deals are a big gift from our small businesses because we know it has been tough lately. 

Fab Feb deals are open to anyone in Queensland (you didn't have to be actually inundated with flood waters), the big wet has affected almost everyone. Come on Queenslanders, you deserve a break from flood recovery so we invite you to escape to the country... the Granite Belt Wine Country.  During February more than 25 Stanthorpe tourist operators are offering.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Escape the dreaded school run - head to wine country

It’s back to school for the under 18s this week so now is a good time for the big kids to avoid congested suburban streets and escape to the country. 

Stanthorpe Visitor Centre team (above) have rolled out the welcome mat – they want to tempt visitors with a host of activities during February. 

The good folk at Granite Belt Wine & Tourism (GBWT) attractions say these tie into their annual Fab Feb campaign to be launched next week. What's happening on the Granite Belt

There’s always a good reason to visit the Granite Belt, not least because during the summer this country escape is typically five degrees cooler than on the coast. Information is online or telephone 1800 SO COOL – of course

Monday, January 24, 2011

Granite Belt Winemaker Shares the Love with Mater Babies

Despite Brisbane floods, every day premature babies in South East Queensland rely on the critical care of the Mater Hospital. It is an expensive business, but for these fragile little lives it is a show that must go on and one Queensland winemaker is putting his shoulder to the wheel - again.

For almost 20 years not drought, not rain, nor even flood has broken the bond between the Puglisi family and the Mater's Little Miracles fundraising activities.  Angelo Puglisi's gratitude is eternal, for the care they provided to his first grandchild, born four months early.  For almost six months in 1992 little Stephen 'lived' at the hospital until he was strong enough to come home to the Granite Belt Wine Country. 

Guests at Little Miracles fundraising dinner at the Brisbane Convention Centre on February 12 will sup on the Ballandean Estate Shiraz/Viognier blend, courtesy sponsorship of the Puglisi family. 

Eat and Drink with Queenslanders

Restaurateurs and retail get online to support Qld farmers
Amid the recent QLD flood devastation a motivated group of business people, primary producers and restaurateurs, with the support of DEEDI, have set up

The site lets QLD retailers, wholesalers and growers tell consumers and potential stockists how they can still access their products despite the recent devastation.
This is not-for-profit organisation and is already helping a number of Granite Belt producers. Good work guys!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Granite Belt Shares the Love

  • To help supply flood affected Ipswich and Grantham, Granite Belt food producers have banded together. Growers are donating fruit and vegetables and two locally based trucking companies have volunteered to transport the goods. The food chain has begun with a big pick and pack and the first truck is on its way – the scheme is the brainchild of the Stanthorpe Community Reference Panel. Thanks guys!
  • Stallholders Fees for this Sunday’s Market in the Mountains in Stanthorpe are being donated to the Premier’s Flood Appeal.  The popular “make it, bake it, grow it, sew it” event is held 8-12am at Stanthorpe Civic Centre. Come along!
  • To help the flood devastated Grantham community, you can dance for a cause on Saturday 5 February at the Stanthorpe Civic Centre. The Big Dance gig is organised by the Granite Belt Dance Club. Learn more from Graham Martin 4684 1264 and join in!

    Two years ago this Sydney couple (right) was marooned just south of Stanthorpe in the Ballandean valley when heavy rainfall cut the creek crossing.  While they waited for flood waters to recede, the good folk at Ballandean Estate fed and wined them at no cost, until they could continue with their travels.  The grateful couple now returns every year and yesterday popped in to do a bit of shopping in the new food gallery at Ballandean Estate to repay the goodwill.

    It just goes to show what goes around comes around. Come to the Granite Belt Wine Country - we're open for business today!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hooray for Veraison - Vintage is on its way in the Granite Belt

Weeks - nay - months of rain have lifted and the sun is out and the first promising signs that there will be a vintage this year have been sighted south of Stanthorpe this week.

In response to media interest following recent heavy rain and floods in Queensland, these comments have been provided by member producers on the crystal ball that is vintage 2011. In a ‘normal’ season, vintage for Granite Belt fruit generally begins end of January/early February and runs until the end of April.

The 2011 vintage will be as challenging as any in recent memory with the feedback from producers rather like the Curate’s Egg. Everyone has been eagerly awaiting the start of veraison - when the red grapes take on their colour and a sign that the grapes are maturing but with so little sun veraison has eluded most Granite Belt growers. Fortunately, there is little reported sign of disease as growers have been vigilant with sprays. We need sunshine and good airflow and the last four or five days of sunshine have lifted spirits. But joy of joys, veraison was spotted yesterday by Warren Smith at Pyramids Road Wines south of Stanthorpe and he cant wait to get his hands dirty again this vintage!

For the full vintage update , click on: Granite Belt vintage 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chardonnay laps up the sunshine

The vines which produced last year's national champion sparkling wine for one Granite Belt producer are relishing the sunshine in Stanthorpe today.

Robert Channon Wines vineyard - like many in the Queensland wine capital - has seen steady rainfall this season. But the sun is out now and the grapes, and the winemakers are happy.   Producers across the region are out in their vineyards checking the crop. The annual grape harvest (vintage) will be a little later this year, no-one is too sure when it will begin but that's what happens when you deal with living product and not widgets!

[Pictured these vines which produced  the 2008 Singing Lake Sparkling Chardonnay, national champion at the 2010 Australian Small Winemakers Show.]

Friday, January 14, 2011

Girraween National Park temporarily closed

Unfortunately Girraween National Park is closed to campers and day trippers until 24 January 2011 owing to poor ground conditions and damage.  Girraween Environmental Lodge is also closed for repair work to grounds.

Other tourist accommodation and attractions in the Granite Belt are open for business as usual. For your Stanthorpe escape, look now and book now

All roads lead to Stanthorpe today

Access on highways leading to the Queensland' wine capital - the Granite Belt - are back in business:
  • Gold Coast/Stanthorpe (via Beaudesert, Boonah and Warwick) open. 
  • Brisbane/Stanthorpe (via Centenary Highway to Yamanto then north via Warwick) open. 
  • Sunshine Coast/Stanthorpe (via Gateway Motorway, Logan Motorway, Centenary Highway then on through Warwick) open.
  • Toowoomba/Stanthorpe (via Warwick 8 mile intersection) open.
  • Sydney/Stanthorpe (via New England Highway through Tenterfield) open. 
  • Ballina/Stanthorpe (via Lismore and Tenterfield on Bruxner Highway) open.
For further main road updates click here and here For local road information check with Southern Downs Regional Council click here  Please take care on the roads as surfaces have been damaged. Some sections operating under stop/go conditions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting to Stanthorpe today

Access on major roads in this part of Southeast Queensland is being restored after recent flooding. Some sections operating under stop/go conditions, however please note:
  • Stanthorpe to Brisbane (via Warwick and Cunningham's Gap) is open as far as Yamanto, then take the Centenary Highway. Brisbane airport traffic can then connect to the Logan Motorway and Gateway Bridge.  Avoid using the Ipswich Motorway.
  • Stanthorpe to Toowoomba (via Warwick 8 mile intersection) is now open to vehicles. 
  • From NSW to Stanthorpe via Tenterfield (1) the New England Highway is open from Sydney and (2) the Bruxner Highway from Ballina to Tenterfield and then onto Stanthorpe is open.
Further updates will be provided when confirmed. For further main road updates click here . For local road information check with Southern Downs Regional Council click here  Please take care on the roads as surfaces have been damaged.

Road Access update

Access on major roads in this part of Southeast Queensland will be variable for some little while as roads and bridges are cleared and repaired. Some sections may operate under stop/go conditions. However travelling north from Stanthorpe this may be useful:
  • Stanthorpe to Brisbane (via Warwick and Cunningham's Gap) is currently open as far as Yamanto.
  • Stanthorpe to Toowoomba (via Warwick 8 mile intersection) is open to vehicles under 5 tonnes. 
We'll continue to provide information as it comes to hand but for main road updates click here . For local road information check with Southern Downs Regional Council click here  Please drive safely.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stanthorpe to Sydney open via New England Highway

Take the high road - the New England Highway from Sydney is open all the way north to Stanthorpe and Warwick but drivers should be alert to areas of poor road surface.  Accommodation operators advise there is plenty of availability in the Granite Belt - look now and book now at  Come on up!

Access to Coast open via Casino

While authorities continue to discourage all unnecessary road travel, there is access for those with an urgent need to be on the road in/out of the Granite Belt.  Travelling south from Stanthorpe to Tenterfield, drivers can drive east - with caution - on the Bruxner highway through Casino and onto Ballina and then up/down the coast. All unnecessary road travel should be avoided and those on the road should exercise extreme caution and patience. Take care.

Stanthorpe VIC reopens today Wednesday 12 January

Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre (VIC) has reopened this morning and despite its extensive harbour views of recent days has survived the deluge completely in tact. Staff and volunteers have resumed their roles in providing information to locals and visitors alike. There is plenty of tourist accommodation available in the Queensland wine capital by calling 1800 SO COOL or visit

Council  and community workers have been active in the clean up along Quart Pot Creek with all roads through the CBD to the town bypass fully operational.  At 9am this morning the New England Highway was closed at Tenterfield to the south and Warwick to the north.  We'll continue to provide information as it comes to hand but for main road updates click here . For local road information check with Southern Downs Regional Council click here.

Granite Belt Wine & Tourism (GBWT) marketing office also reopened today and on behalf of the association extends its best wishes to industry colleagues, friends and family in other flood affected areas.

Rains ease in the Granite Belt today

Mercifully the rain stopped in Stanthorpe overnight with only light showers forecast for today. We expect to reopen the office and Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre today.  We pause to spare a thought for many colleagues, friends and family in other parts of Queensland, and NSW for whom the worst is yet to come. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stanthorpe Visitor Centre closed today

Tuesday 11 January 2.30pm unfortunately in the interests of safety the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre is temporarily closed today due to severe weather conditions. Alternative contact information is on display at the door at 128 Leslie Parade Stanthorpe and visitors may call at the Stanthorpe Civic Centre in Marsh Street if assistance is required. Main road closure information is accessible here.

Stanthorpe is situated at 1000metres above sea level and while rainfall has been significant, water normally moves on quite quickly so we hope to reopen shortly.  Telephone and internet access to Granite Belt Wine & Tourism (GBWT) is limited as communication traffic is understandably high.  Staff are safe, as we hope are all our volunteers, members and the wider community.  Our heartfelt thoughts go to other communities and colleagues affected by this week. GBWT enquiries here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year New Look at Stanthorpe VIC

Yes despite the wet summer, the Queensland wine capital is well and truly open for business.

The welcome mat is out and there are smiles all round at the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre (VIC) as staff and volunteers don their new uniforms.

The visitor Centre is run by three job share supervisors who are employed by Granite Belt Wine & Tourism (GBWT).

The new uniforms arrived at the centre on 31st December in what must have been Santa’s last drop in Queensland. Volunteers speculated that he may have timed his delivery to coincide with New Year celebrations in the Queensland wine capital. Cheers Santa!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vintage drops on the Granite Belt

January is traditionally the time when Queensland winemakers in the Granite Belt prepare for the start vintage in the coming weeks. Fortunately while we've experienced above average rainfall, there is no flooding to Stanthorpe's vineyards.

Thankfully only minor structural damage followed recent storms. The big challenge is to avoid tractors getting bogged in the vineyards. Above ground the vine vigour has been exceptional with many growers busy 'hedging' their foliage to improve spray application and to reduce shading. Lower that usual temperatures and overcast weather has slowed the fruit ripening and harvest (vintage) is predicted to be later than normal. Like other regions in eastern Australia Downy Mildew has affected a number of vineyards and it has been difficult to maintain an appropriate spray program because of persistent rain and vineyard access.

Harvest yields will be lower that usual due to mould affected fruit, but the good news is that there will be an enough good fruit to ensure sufficient high quality Granite Belt wine will result from the 2011 vintage. Meanwhile tourists continue to find the region attractive, with record December figures for both on line accommodation bookings and sales of local merchandise at the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre.