Thursday, July 28, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Mag - Queensland Granite Belt Wine? Absolutely!

Australia's best selling magazine Better Homes and Gardens believes Banana benders know their grapes. We certainly agree!

The latest edition (September 2011) informs readers to dismiss previous misconceptions great wine doesn't grow in Queensland and discover the Granite Belt.

"Beautiful one day, perfect the next. That's Queensland. Great for sun and surf...but wine? Absolutely. Just a few hours drive inland from your beach towel there are about 150 wineries. The best plantings are in the Granite Belt, a spectacular mountainous area on the New South Wales border, 800 metres above sea level."

And there was more than one wine that tickled the fancy of the magazine's wine journo - "Shiraz seems to be the preferred red, but others, including the newer Spanish and Italian varieties are now blending in. Of the whites, Chardonnay performs well. Semillon and Verdelho can also be terrific, reminiscent of Hunter Valley wines."

What are Better Homes and Garden's favourite wineries - Sirromet, Ballandean Estate, Boireann, Summit Estate, Golden Grove, Robinsons, Heritage Estate and Robert Channon!

From Sardinia and Sicily to Strange Bird

All too often it is easier to keep buying what we's safe. But are you truly living?

Join the many wine lovers who have ventured off the well-worn path of classic grape varieties and try a Strange Bird. This weekend the latest edition of our famous Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail guide map will be released at Brisbane's South Bank Regional Flavours.

If you are new to our blog - Strange Bird is the quirky name given to our self-drive alternative wine trail offering 18 alternative wine varieties for those looking for something beyond Chardonnay and Shiraz.

What are alternative varieties you ask? To be considered alternative a variety must represent not more than 1 per cent of the total bearing vines in Australia. Tagged the 'next generation of wine', alternative varieties have been popular in leading European wine regions (think Piedmont, Bordeaux, Rioja and more) for generations, and are rapidly emerging in popularity in Australia because of their innate ability to match perfectly with food. 

This year, two Italian varieties have been awarded the 'Strange Bird' status; Vermentino, a white wine with a floral nose and citrus overtones originating from Sardinia and Corsica; and Nero D'Avola which is a rich and earthy red wine popular in Sicily.

Producer of the new varieties, Sam Costanzo of Golden Grove Estate has told us that Vermentino pairs sensationally with seafood and those that enjoy hearty meat dishes or an antipasto of salami should get their hands on a bottle of Golden Grove Nero D'Avola (94 points James Halliday).

If you are in Brisbane join us at Regional Flavours and expand your palate with a Strange Bird. Or visit us in the Granite Belt and check out our innovative trail for 21 Granite Belt wineries. Download at

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Remembering our French Connection

The hamlets and regions of Amiens, Messines, Bapaume, Passchendaele, Bullecourt, Pozieres and Fleurbaix are dotted across the Granite Belt, but sometimes we forget why.

Following World War I, soldier settlements were established in the region and in recognition the villages were named after French battlefields. Our fresh mountain air was considered ideal for returning soldiers suffering from mustard gas exposure.

To ensure we don't forget our French connection and war heroes, local Fay Helwig has been busy organising poppy planting for Remembrance Day. An annual activity for Fay, who this year most appropriately had the assistance of French born tourist Gilles d'Arcimoles.

Despite jetlag after a massive 29-hour flight, the 18 year old cultivated the field with great enthusiasm, proud to be a part of the Granite Belt's dedication all those that gave their lives.

Visit the Granite Belt this November and be rewarded with a stunning display of red poppies - don't miss it!

Weekends for Two Magazine rates Granite Belt the Perfect Winter Getaway

When did you last spend quality time with the special person in your life? If it has been too long, take advice from luxury travel magazine Weekends for Two and venture to the Granite Belt.

The Autumn/Winter edition features short breaks and ideal escapes for winter. Amongst the very best of luxury travel in Australia and New Zealand, the Granite Belt is rated as an ideal winter destination for couples.

"The Granite Belt offers the perfect winter getaway. Dress for fresh, cool days viewing the dramatic landscape. It is one of contrasts; from bushland bordered by granite monoliths to lavender farms and vineyards.

"There's boutique wineries and cellar doors, plenty of places to dine, events and festivals to attend. Events to check out include Opera and Jazz in the Vineyard and Christmas in July dinners."

Need more than a magazine to convince you, consumer feedback on RACQ's 150 Must Do List - the Granite Belt included;

"This was the best week-end getaway that my husband and I have had. Highly recommend, this as a must do!'

Discover it for yourself with one of our Brass Monkey Winter hot deals.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Granite Belt Medal Symphony

Add a bit of music to your palate with a wine symphony and a show stopping experience. At the recent Royal Queensland Wine Show judging the Granite Belt’s Symphony Hill Wines took six medals and the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Trophy.

It was the second year running for Symphony Hill, also taking the most successful Queensland exhibitor trophy in 2010! And it was all about the Strange Bird - with the leading winery awarded medals for their 2010 Reserve Verdelho, 2010 Pinot Gris, 2009 Viognier, 2009 Shiraz Viognier, 2009 Petit Verdot as well as a gold medal for their 2010 Gewurztraminer.

The Show was also time to honour those that have given so much to Queensland wine, including our very own Sam Costanzo of Golden Grove Estate. Sam, who has worked tirelessly in the industry since 1985, was awarded the Queensland Wine Press Club Trophy.

Also joining the trophy podium was Mark Ravenscroft of Ravens Croft Wines winning the Corrigan and Scudamore-Smith Trophy for the best gold medal Queensland wine with his 2009 Chardonnay.

Twisted Gum, Robert Channon Wines, Lucas Estate, Golden Grove Estate, Sirromet, and Ballandean Estate also took medals for the Granite Belt.

From Stanthorpe to The 7.30 Report

No matter where life takes us, time in the country will stay with you forever. It gets into your soul!

A prime example is leading journalist Kerry O'Brien's story in the latest edition of Australian Country Style Magazine. Kerry has traipsed the world and been at the forefront of Australia's current affairs for decades but the love of his childhood time in Stanthorpe still remains dear to his heart.

"I still remember the smell of pine trees...and the fresh, clean taste of apples from the orchard."

So this weekend, make sure you experience the freedom, open space and fresh air of the country in Stanthorpe.

Want to read more about Kerry's childhood - click here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lonely Planet Likes the Granite Belt

While many regions are reeling at the content of Lonely Planet's new Queensland and Great Barrier Reef Guide, we could not be happier.

The Granite Belt was named an around Brisbane highlight  - "sampling bold reds and farm-fresh produce and enjoying nights by the fire."

Providing further reason to venture out of Brisbane, Lonely Planet continued with "Located just west of the Great Dividing Range, the Granite Belt is home to rolling hillsides sprinkled with vineyards and orchards that thrive in the cold, crisp air. This is the heart of Queensland’s wine country and the lush countryside is dotted with apple, pear, plum and peach trees, cosy cottages and boutique wineries. Further south, on the NSW border, balancing boulders and spring wildflowers attract bushwalkers to the dramatic Girraween National Park."

Local operators received excellent reviews with Shiraz Restaurant in Ballandean named a Best Places to Eat, and Happy Valley Retreat a well-deserved guernsey under the Best Places to Stay.

The guide also provided a list of 'Top Vineyards and Granite Belt Delicacies' and Mark Ravenscroft of Ravens Croft Wines imparted some local knowledge in Meet the Winemaker.

Buy the latest edition @ Lonely Planet