Monday, December 23, 2013

The Australian wine regions you've never heard of

The Granite Belt, Queensland

If you live outside the state of Queensland, the sunny place is somewhere you associate with theme parks, long sandy beaches and meter maids. But for all those who prefer a quiet night in with a glass of red over raging through surfer's night spots, there is something on offer for you.

The Granite Belt is the main wine region in Queensland and it is having a moment.

Named after the stunning prehistoric granite formations in the area, it has a cool climate and high altitude which creates award-winning wines.

It's been a long time since 1870, when the first grapes were planted by a Catholic priest to make church wine, but finally the Granite Belt is becoming a recognised region - with the help of respected wine critic James Halliday.

There are 40 boutique cellar doors with highly respected wine. The main players here are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot - but even with a small percentage of plantings, Verdelho has made its mark.

Head to the Granite Belt to discover small can be beautiful.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Out & about in the Granite Belt

Just a quick finish to my Stanthorpe photologue with some random 'out and about' photos...
[read more at Life at the Blunt End]

Family philosophy a technique worth bottling

WHEN you are a 70-year-old wine grower you could be forgiven for taking off your boots and savouring a long swig or two.

Not so for the godfather of the Queensland wine industry, Angelo Puglisi.

The affectionately-labelled patriarch from the Granite Belt jokes about being "semi-retired"

Yet in translation this hard working local means he has cut back to 12 hour days, seven days a week.

[read more at The Chronicle]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wine Time in Granite Belt Country

It wasn’t that long ago that Queensland’s wine making industry was little more than a footnote to Australia’s world renowned vineyard culture.

It wasn’t that long ago that Julia Gillard was the Prime Minister of Australia either.

The point is this: things can change quickly.

The Queensland wine industry has matured in recent years; as a result, local makers have been increasingly recognised as producers of very good wines.

[read more at]

Friday, August 9, 2013

No sour grapes over list glitch

HARRINGTON Glen Estate Wines joins a string of local wineries to receive top marks from James Halliday in his latest review of the region.

The establishment was one of nine Granite Belt wineries to achieve four- and five-star ratings, but a glitch in the system saw them excluded from the accolades on the Wine Companion website.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Eight wineries, lots of stars

EIGHT Granite Belt wineries have received top honours in James Halliday's recently-released 2014 Wine Companion.

Boireann Winery, Golden Grove Estate and Symphony Hill Wines all received five stars while Ballandean Estate Wines, Ravens Croft Wines, Ridgemill Estate, Tobin Wines and Twisted Gum Wines all picked up four stars.

NOTE: The Wine Companion website missed noting that Harrington Glen also received a 4 star rating.

[read more at The Daily News]

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of Granite Belt Wines by Alan Hunter

Great write up of Granite Belt wines in the QWeekend Magazine by Alan Hunter this weekend (July 13-14 2013).

Masons Shiraz poached pear with a clove parfait

This month we feature a divine rediscovery of the Poached Pear, from chef Dylan at Mason Wines Cellar Door Cafe.

Clove parfait ingredients 
  • 125ml milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g castor sugar
  • 225ml thickened cream lightly whipped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • In a medium saucepan heat the milk and clove on a low simmer and be careful not to boil. 
  • Separate the egg yolks and discard the egg white. Beat the egg yolks with the castor sugar until combined (this usually takes a couple of minutes). Slowly whisk in the hot milk and transfer into a clean saucepan. 
  • Bring to a medium heat (70 degrees is hot enough as over 80 degrees the custard will split). Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard just thickens. 
  • Transfer the thickened custard into an electric mixer bowl then whisk for 10 minutes on high speed. The custard will double in size and once cooled fold in the cream. 
  • Line the loaf tin with baking paper then pour in the mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours.
Poached Pear ingredients
  • 750ml Bottle of Mason’s 2009 Shiraz 
  • 550ml water
  • 300g castor sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 8 firm green Stanthorpe pears 
  • Pour the wine and water into a heavy based saucepan big enough to fit all eight pears comfortably and add sugar.
  • Bring to the boil and add cinnamon sticks and star anise. 
  • Peel and core the pears then carefully place them into the boiling liquid. 
  • Leave pears to poach on a simmer for 1 1/2 hours. 
  • Test the pears are poached with a knife gently pushing through the flesh to the middle. When soft remove from heat and strain.
  • Transfer 4 cups of the poaching liquid into a smaller saucepan and boil until reduced by 2/3 in volume. This is your glaze for assembly.
(serves 8) 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flurry of snow interest

On Tuesday 25th June 2013 light snow flurries were reported at Eukey, just 10 minutes from Stanthorpe.

A flurry of public and media interest followed:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wine lovers gain knowledge

More than 30 wine lovers gathered at Mike Hayes' wine evaluation course to learn how to source, prepare and enjoy a top drop - and the best thing is, some of the finest wines are grown on a vine just down the road.

"The participants haven't realised the quality of wines on their back doorstep," Mr Hayes said.

"We've sampled some wines from the southern states and people were amazed at how the local wines stacked up."

[Read more at The Border Post]

Our winter wonderland

Snowflakes in Stanthorpe, a joint initiative of the Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce, Granite Belt Wine and Tourism and the Southern Downs Regional Council, will have the town caked in white for the month of July.

The event will be launched on June 30 at Stanthorpe's first Markets in the Snow, created by Wilshire and Co Young Ambassador Taylah Wantling and Health and Daily Living Solutions Young Ambassador Miriam Spina.

A snow machine will be churning out snowflakes, turning the creek parklands, next to the Visitor Information Centre, into a winter wonderland.

[Read more at The Daily News]

Monday, June 3, 2013

Granite Belt: life by the seasons

Located high on the Great Dividing Range, and about 1000m above sea level, the Granite Belt experiences four distinct seasons, and a climate unlike anywhere else in Queensland.

During the cooler months, you'll need to pack a scarf and coat, as the terrior creates a climate which is, on average, about five degrees cooler than Brisbane.

It has even been known to snow in places.

[Read more at Queensland Country Life]

Friday, May 24, 2013

First frosts of the season for Granite Belt

The autumn spectacle has arrived a little later than usual this year, typically appearing around the Anzac Day weekend.

Temperatures hit a low of minus 2 degrees yesterday.

[Read more at The Daily News]

Frosty days are here! Stanthorpe drops to minus two

STANTHORPE residents shivered through the coldest morning recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology this year as the region rugs against the chilly weather.

A frosty minus two degrees was recorded in the town Monday morning, followed closely by Applethorpe with a temperature of zero degrees.

[Read more at The Satellite]

Rug up, chill out

 SO, you think the mornings have been cool? Concerned your feet are frozen and your fingertips are like icicles in the snow?

Compared with last May this month has been, on average, two and a half degrees warmer.

[Read more at the Northern Star]

Monday, May 20, 2013

Comparing apples with apples?

Australian grown or foreign imports? When comparing apples with apples I know which I’d prefer!

It really doesn’t cost much to support our Aussie farmers, and we all benefit in the long run.

Recently I visited Stanthorpe with my partner and had a great time chatting to the farmers about the season and the different varieties, before going out to the orchard to pick our own little harvest to take home.

[read more at]

Friday, May 17, 2013

Brass, jazz and wines to flow at Stanthorpe this weekend

EVEN the miniature horses at Robert Channon Wines want to get in on the act and learn to play the trumpet for the Stanthorpe winery's Brass and Wine Day this Saturday.

The annual event will include food, wine and free musical entertainment for guests.

[Read more at The Chronicle]

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No carbon footprint for this eco-friendly house

AN ECO-friendly property, which boasts "no carbon footprint", is generating attention in the Granite Belt region...
Graham King is the owner of Sippers at Ballandean....

Mr King has successfully combined the once-alien concepts of luxury and environmental awareness, to earn a 4.5 star AAA tourism rating, with a much sought-after green star for being eco-friendly.

[read more at The Chronicle]

Friday, May 10, 2013


By Toby Longhurst
"I must admit that by Friday afternoon I was a little highly strung. It had been a long, busy week, with the only thing keeping my spirits up being the prospects of a weekend away. Destination – Stanthorpe. It had been a while since I was last in the region, and sadly I had  forgotten two really important things. First of all, just how spectacular and relaxing the country scenery is, and secondly, just how close this beautiful other world is from Brisbane. Just a 2.5 hour drive, with Rachmaninov on the radio and I arrived at my accommodation Hooters Hut, a charming rustic cabin hidden amongst 60 acres of picturesque natural bushland."
[Read more at]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Winemaker celebrates a Golden season

SUCCESSFUL SEASON: Golden Grove Estate wine maker Ray Costanzo finishes this vintage knowing three of his wines impressed lauded wine critic James Halliday.
[read more at the Daily News]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Diamondvale Cottages

Excellent review of Diamondvale.

Consistently voted one of the best B&B’s in Australia, Diamondvale Cottages is sure to impress. A pleasant 3 hour drive from Brisbane or 3.5 hours from the Gold Coast, Diamondvale Cottages is about a 3 minute drive from the town of Stanthorpe in the beautiful Granite Belt region of Queensland.

[read more on]

Southern Downs harvest celebration

SEATED under a 150-year-old pecan tree, with cloudless skies and a crisp autumn breeze, 135 people gathered for the inaugural Southern Downs Harvest regional lunch.
The menu featured food and wine from local suppliers, producers and growers, including LiraH Vinegars, cheddar from the Granite Belt Dairy, Wendland Olives, Junabee free range eggs, Suttons Farm apples, sourdough bread from Pittsworth’s Chalala Micro Bakery, pink fur apple potatoes from vegetable grower Mal Smith, rib roast of beef from cattle producers Gordon and Ann Goodwin, and wines from Robert Channon, Symphony Hill and Ballandean Estate, to name a few.

[read more at Queensland Country Life]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boireann Winery named Star Cellar Door for the Granite Belt

Boireann Winery has been named the Star Cellar Door for the Granite Belt in the April/May 2013 edition of the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine. (Page 106).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alure Boutique Villas feature

Alure Boutique Villas is featured on the Brisbane Times Guide to the Best Weekend Getaways.

[Read more at]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Temperatures start dipping at Queensland border

THE temperatures are dipping in Toowoomba - but in Queensland's border towns, it's already hitting single digits.

Stanthorpe recorded a temperature below 10 degrees this morning for the second time this year.

[read more at]

Granite Belt wine lovers weekend

What happens when a food and wine writer visits a wine and food region?  Well, a lot of eating and drinking, great conversations, a little learning and a lot of laughing and a food coma at the end.

I met some great people (including Ewan McPherson of Symphony Hill Wines pictured above) when I visited the Granite Belt recently and I've written all about it in this fortnight's edition of Bmag.

OPERA IN THE VINEYARD: Stanthorpe’s perfect weekend away

The Stanthorpe region is set to shine this May as the stars of Opera Queensland join forces with Ballandean Estate for the annual Opera in the Vineyard. For over twenty years the event has seen locals and visitors alike gather each May to bask in the beautiful sunset surroundings of Ballandean Estate while they mix a little Verdi with their vino, raising almost one million dollars for the Rotary Club of Stanthorpe along the way.
[read more at]

Friday, April 5, 2013

Alure Boutique Villas, Stanthorpe

Review of Alure Boutique Villas, Stanthorpe from the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Like any good romantic recluse, don't expect to be shown to your room. Rather, it's a private escape; yours for the time you're there. "The world's most luxurious tent," claim the owners. It's a big call, but one which perhaps comes with some justification.

Nestled at the base of a rocky hill and in front of rolling plains, the tented villa looks nice from the outside. But it's inside where the magic happens. Sliding doors reveal the lounge, a double couch, two elegant reading chairs, a large television, sound system and an ethanol-driven fireplace."

[Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald]


"Granite Belt Wine Country was this week voted a favourite Australian travel secret. It came in at number 32 in Australian Traveller Magazine’s 100 Incredible Travel Secrets of Australia –the third highest ranking in Queensland and the highest ranking wine region in Australia."
[read more at Gram Magazine]

4BC ‘Wine Time’ audio featuring Granite Belt wines

The Wine Punter - audio from 4BC featuring discussion of Hidden Creek Tempranillo ’09 and Pyramids Road Mourvedre ’11, Hidden Creek winemaker Jim Barnes and talking about the up-coming ‘Elevated Taste – Grazing the Granite Belt’ weekend. [listen to the full audio online]

Granite Belt’s tourism up as word spreads

"STANTHORPE streets were thick with visitors over the Easter weekend and Granite Belt Wine and Tourism figures show the region is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.
The GBWT website attracted nearly 8000 unique visitors during March, recording a 30% traffic increase and making it the busiest month to date.
Granite Belt Wine Country has been voted into the 100 Incredible Travel Secrets of Australia by a panel of judges including Pat Rafter, Kate Ritchie, Catriona Rowntree and Sonia Kruger."

[Read more at The Daily News]

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Get to know some locals

The Wine Punter, Michael Ellis, Brisbane Times, April 2, 2013

"Australian Wine Month kicks off on April 1st. It is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate great Australian wines, the people who make them and their stories.
Quality has improved significantly over the past decade as winemakers sharpen their focus on varieties that suit the region’s soils and climate. Greater understanding of how these varieties work on specific sites is resulting in some outstanding wines.

‘Elevated Taste – Grazing the Granite Belt’ is a timely opportunity to get out there to see and taste for yourself. In its second year, this event features the best of the region’s food and wine experiences.

Read more at the Brisbane Times

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Granite Belt wines now on the menu at Gardens Galore

WALKING into Gardens Galore, you're already spoilt for choice.

Aromatic coffee, gourmet food, boutique fashion and homewares, plants to rival the botanic gardens and now wine.

Yes, the heady bottled nectar will soon be on the menu at Sue Hoffman's house of everything gorgeous and as the gooseberry enthusiasts begin to rejoice, so too are the business heads behind it.

Mrs Hoffman will sell Golden Grove Estate wines in 16 different varieties, so there will be no shortage of choice when it comes to selecting the perfect wine to complement your meal.

Mrs Hoffman said she loved the idea of selling local Granite Belt wine and knew it would mean only good things for the Warwick community and beyond.

Local drop drums up symphony of accolades

GRANITE belt winery Symphony Hill Wines has triumphed over some of the nation's best-known vineyards to win Best Other Red Variety Wine at the 2013 Winewise Awards in Canberra.

Their 2009 Reserve Petit Verdot edged out Rosemount's Hand Picked Nursery Mataro 2011 by a narrow margin.

[read more at]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beach erosion puts off tourists from top Queensland holiday spots on Gold and Sunshine coasts

"BEACH erosion has turned tourists away from some of our most famous holiday hot spots - but other Queensland destinations are reaping the benefits.

"Mackay, Rockhampton, Stanthorpe and the Sunshine Coast hinterland have also been big movers.


"On the central Queensland coast, Mackay and Rockhampton have enjoyed huge surges in popularity for the Easter break, while it has also been a win for Stanthorpe, with an increase of more than 20 per cent on last year on the website for the Granite Belt.

Sarah Reeves from Granite Belt Wine and Tourism said a new marketing campaign showcasing Stanthorpe's distinct four seasons had been enthusiastically received by holidaymakers.

"It's one of the few places where you can get a genuine seasonal experience," she said.

"Traditionally winter has always been our strongest time, but autumn is a beautiful time to visit as well.

"We've also extended our target market so rather than just focusing on Brisbane, we've aimed at the Gold and Sunshine coasts as well."

[read more on the Courier Mail website]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Symphony Hill Wines wins best of the best trophy in Canberra

In a major coup for QLD, Granite Belt boutique winery Symphony Hill Wines has won Trophy for Best Other Red Variety Wine at 2013 Winewise Awards in Canberra for their 2009 Reserve Petit Verdot (RRP $65). They edged out Rosemount’s Hand Picked Nursery Mataro 2011 by a narrow margin.

Winewise Awards are only open to wines that have won gold at major wine shows over the previous 12 months. Other trophy winners this year included Yalumba, Heggies, Rosemount and Shaw & Smith. Symphony Hill owner, Ewen Macpherson, reports, “It is exciting to have our wines match Australia’s best. Our flagship is our Reserve Shiraz which has been awarded gold at a national show every vintage since 2003, and now we have its lesser known sibling, Petit Verdot, clambering for attention. The 2009 Reserve Petit Verdot is a big purple cuddly monster and has such a different flavour profile from the standard Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 Reserve Petit Verdot had already won three trophies, including Champion Wine of the Show, at the 2012 New England Wine Show.”

“It has been a wonderfully successful 12 months for our wines with James Halliday rating the following wines 5 stars: 2008 Reserve Shiraz, 2011 Semillon, 2012 Pinot Gris and 2010 Wild Child Viognier.”

Symphony Hill Winemaker Mike Hayes said, “It is extremely satisfying when critics give our wines the nod. We crush over 80 batches of grapes in any one vintage and process over 30 different grape varieties. This is the second year in a row we have made a wine that has won a trophy at the Winewise awards. Last year we made a Gewurztraminer for a winery over the border called Toppers Mountain, that took out the Other White Variety Wine Trophy. We purchase the Petit Verdot fruit from Duncan and Dine Ferrier here on the Granite Belt and have done so for the last 7 years. As the vines mature we are seeing the complexity and intensity of the wines increase.”

Over the last two years the winemaking team at Symphony Hill has collected over 20 trophies, 25 golds, 30 silvers and 50 bronze medals and is rated a 5 star winery by James Halliday.

Symphony Hill resides in the cool climate region of the Granite Belt 2.5 hours south west of Brisbane. Since releasing their wines in 2004, they have incrementally increased production to meet demand. Their wine club has grown to such a level now that some wines are just released to wine club members, with each member receiving one bottle of a new vintage then it is sold out. One such wine is their current release of 2011 Reserve Nebbiolo which was sent out to their wine club members as part of their Autumn release 6 pack.

Owner Ewen Macpherson said, “We love to spoil our wine club members with all trophy and gold medal winning wines being sent to wine club members for just $25 as part of their bi-annual 6 bottle delivery. Members also receive 30% discount on all wines across our range with free delivery anywhere in Australia!”

“Each year, more and more people from South East Queensland are discovering they have their very own ultra premium wine district just around the corner!”

Find out more about Symphony Hill Wines.

The Vinsomniac: Ridgemill Estate - Eloise: A Sparkling Debut

The Vinsomniac blogs about Ridgemill Estate:

"You don't win medals for making Rosé" could well become winemaker Pete McGlashan's equivalent to Homer Simpson's "You don't win friends with salad". 

[read more]

Friday, March 15, 2013

Apple Muffins


  • 125gm melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tblsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups peeled & diced granny smith apples from Sutton’s (about 2 apples)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecan nuts
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • In a large bowl combine melted butter, sugar, beaten egg and milk. Sift in flour, baking powder, apple and cinnamon. 
  • Stir gently until just combined. The mixture should be lumpy, not smooth. 
  • Spoon mixture into muffin tins until 2/3 full. 
  • Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins. 
  • Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. 
  • Makes 12.

This recipe provided by Roz Sutton from Sutton's Juice Factory and Cidery.

Follow the trail on your bike

THE Granite Belt will soon be a major player when it comes to cycling tourism.
Making that possible will be the 34km-long Granite Belt Bike Trail from Stanthorpe to Ballandean.
Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Peter Blundell said the bike trail initiative promoted healthy living for visitors and locals alike.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Almond Crusted Salmon with Lemongrass Balsamic Mash

A nutty crusted salmon on a moreish bed of LiraH Lemongrass Balsamic vinegar mash. Perfect for any occasion.

Chef: Miriam Spina
Difficulty: easy
Time to prepare: 40 Minutes
Serves: 2


  • 2 salmon steaks
  • 1 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 1 spring onion
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/8 cup LiraH Lemongrass Balsamic Vinegar

Combine almonds, salt, and pepper in a bowl, dip salmon in egg then coat with almond mixture.
Fry in half butter until cooked through and almonds are golden and crisp.

In a separate pan fry sage, and spring onions in 1 tbsp of butter until soft, add LiraH Lemongrass Balsmic until heated through.

Make mash potato as normal, mix in milk, remaining butter, salt, pepper, sage, spring onion and LiraH Lemongrass Balsamic.

Place cooked salmon on a bed of mash, and drizzle with LiraH Lemongrass Balsamic to finish.

For something a little different, why not try swapping the salmon for spicy thai fish cakes.

Chefs Tips
If you don't like to fry in butter, bake salmon in a moderate oven for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through.

You can purchase LiraH products online, or at Brinx Deli in the main street of Stanthorpe, or at the Visitor Information Centre.

Golden Grove Estate's 2012 Sauvignon Blanc rated 94 points (5 Stars)

Golden Grove Estate's 2012 Sauvignon Blanc has been rated 94 points (5 Stars) by leading wine critic James Halliday in the Weekend Australian (9 & 10 March, 2013) . He goes on to say "Very well made and the best Sauvignon Blanc from Queensland's Granite Belt." 

This is a fantastic follow on to the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc which won three gold medals across the country. This is the second 5 star rating for a 2012 Golden Grove white with the 2012 Vermentino also gaining 5 stars. 

We are all looking forward to the winery rating later on this year.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Innovative app launched

"IN AN Australian Facebook first, the official 2013 Granite Belt Visitor Guide is now available via the popular social media site.

Granite Belt Wine and Tourism (GBWT) business marketing manager Sarah Reeves said the printed version had been altered to help the transition to the new digital layout.

"We are really excited about the new format and think it provides a much cleaner design and strong visual effect," she said."

[read more at the Daily News]

Granite Belt Bike Trail opening

"Celebrate the opening of the Granite Belt Bike trail by donning green and be one of the first to enjoy the 34 kilometre ride.

The Granite Belt Bike Trail from Stanthorpe to Ballandean will be officially opened on Sunday, March 17, 2013 with a ‘green’ themed ride scheduled to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day."

[read more on the Road Ahead website]

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to fix Queensland wine: Terry Morris

"Morris said that if every adult Queenslander purchased two bottles of Queensland produced wine per year, replacing some of the interstate and imported wines they purchase, this would create sales of six million bottles per year. " more on

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chocolate Ganache Tarts With Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

A delectable chocolate ganache tart, topped with LiraH Strawberry Balsamic roasted strawberries and fresh cream!
From chef Miriam Spina
Difficulty: easy
Time to prepare: 30 minutes
Serves: 6


200g Dark Chocolate
300ml Cream
2 tbs Icing Sugar
6 Ready Made Shortcrust Tart Shells
1 Punnet Strawberries
LiraH Caramelised Strawberry Balsamic


Quarter strawberries and mix with icing sugar and a good drizzle of LiraH caramelised strawberry balsamic. Roast in a hot oven until soft and a syrup has formed.
In a saucepan, place chocolate and 3/4 of the cream. Keep over low heat until well combined.
Fill tart shells with chocolate ganache and refrigerate until firm. 
Once cooled, top with roasted strawberries and fresh whipped cream!


For something a little more cheeky, use icecream instead of fresh cream!


Order your Lirah products online or pick them up from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre or from  Brinx Deli on the main street of Stanthorpe.
Pick up your fresh strawberries direct from the Strawberry Fields farm, just outside of town.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sun, sand, surf ... and wine?

"I wasn't expecting a wine like this . . . not from the surf-washed, Hawaiian shirt-splattered, pineapple-infested state of Queensland.
From a list of labels I'd never heard of, I opted for the Boireann Mourvedre Tannat 2008. My God, it sang. Those aromatics, that dense yet joyous fruit, the structural integrity . . . this was not some florid, hot and bothered Aussie red. It was the kind of interesting cool climate wine anyone, anywhere, would proudly serve a dinner guest. I stared at the glass and murmured "Queensland, why have you been hiding this away?"
During the days following that first memorable meal at the Vineyard Cafe in the heart of the Granite Belt wine region, explanations emerged. One was this: Queensland has been hiding this vinous treasure from itself."

Lamb Fettuccine with confit cherry tomatoes - from the Barrel Room Cafe @ Ballandean Estate

While the Barrelroom Cafe at Ballandean Estate is taking a well deserved break until the 23rd February 2013, we get to share a delicious recipe from head chef, Matt Wells.

This recipe takes a little forward planning. It is best to start a day in advance to get the lamb cooked and to allow the stock to cool. It may seem like a lot of work, but this pasta is a real treat! The sugar in the sauce helps overcome the fattiness of the lamb. Any type of pasta works with this recipe.

Lamb Fettuccine with confit cherry tomatoes


1 lamb boned shoulder or leg
1 litre lamb/beef stock
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and quartered
¼ celery, rough chopping
500g fettuccine, cooked
100g butter, plus extra
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
½ bunch basil
½ Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar


Cut lamb into large chucks and put in a roasting tray, add thyme, onions, carrot and celery. Cover with stock. Cover with foil and place in a 180°C oven for 2-3 hours or until lamb is nice and tender.
When tender take out of oven and cool slightly. When cool enough to touch; break up the lamb pieces to separate all the fat from the meat. Throw the fat and vegetables out and set the meat aside. Let the stock cool, as this will be the base of the sauce. When cool, the fat will solidify and it can be removed easily.

In a large fry pan, add the stock, lamb, a knob of butter and cherry tomatoes, place on the heat. When boiling, add your cooked pasta, a little bit more butter, seasoning, a pinch of sugar, chopped parsley, whole basil leaves. Toss till all mixed together.

Serve and eat immediately. Grate some parmesan over the top to finish. YUM!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Big Crush

"Vintage 2013 is go!
It’s an anxious time for anyone whose hard work and livelihood is at the mercy of nature."

Read more at the Brisbane Times

Winemakers look to top vintages if good weather holds

"Granite Belt winemakers have enjoyed a top season the past few months in the lead up to harvesting."

Read more at the Toowoomba Chronicle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Glamping: where camping meets glamour

From the Feb/Mar issue of Fitness First Magazine

"Glamping is the result of blending glamour with camping and has become popular in Australia over the last few years with properties popping up all over the country. Unlike traditional camping, where you bring and set up your own tent and gear, glamping means all the dirty work is done, and ‘tent’ takes on a whole new meaning."


Located just outside of Stanthorpe, Alure Boutique Villas have one luxury self-contained five-star tent with all the trimmings. With a fully equipped kitchen, 50-inch plasma TV, and on the back deck a BBQ as big as my kitchen and a huge heated spa for stargazing, this property is pretty much as far from traditional camping as you can get! 

The cosy four-poster bed, reverse cycle air conditioning and an ethanol run eco-fireplace won’t have you
battling the elements. The owners have designed and positioned the property to be environmentally friendly, using rainwater and recycling wastewater on the gardens.

The room tariff comes with a breakfast hamper and the homemade bread is baked to order. It’s a great stepping off point for wine tasting in the Granite Belt with over 40 cellar doors close by."

Book your accommodation at Alure Boutique Villas.

Ridgemill Estate The Czar Saperavi 2012

"Today’s wine was a gift from a fellow wine writer, Stuart over at The Vinsomniac  It’s very much a curiosity, and while there are some things that can be determined from the bottle and the producer’s website, writing up this wine has left me with more questions than answers. If answers are found subsequently, I’ll certainly update this post.  And with that puzzling introduction, I give you Ridgemill Estate The Czar Saperavi 2012.
This wine is produced and bottled in Severnlea, which puts it in the Granite Belt wine region in Queensland, Australia.  For those not familiar with this country, Queensland is the state in the north east corner and is home to Brisbane, Cairns, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef.  It’s the tourists’ image of Australia, with kangaroos hopping along the beach, and it’s not an image that lines up well with growing grapes for wine."

Escape the city: 24 hours in Stanthorpe

When the Queensland summer heat becomes too much, my favourite formula for escaping the humidity is to head to the hills on a weekend road trip to discover somewhere new – to relax, soak up the atmosphere, sample some culinary delights and explore.
Tucked up in Granite Belt wine country is Stanthorpe, a town affectionately known as the ‘coldest town in Queensland’ during winter. However, during the warm summer months the area is blossoming with life; fruit and vegetables fill the fields, the vineyards hang full of grapes and the town has a lively buzz.

Diamondvale B&B rated as one of Australia’s best

WHEN it comes to feedback, the customer's opinion means everything to Tony and Kerrin Cridland.
The couple who own Stanthorpe's Diamondvale B&B bed and breakfast exposed themselves to the harsh scrutiny of public opinion when they registered the business with TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel advisory website which allows customers to write reviews about their experience.
The gamble paid off though and the bed and breakfast was announced recently in the top 10 bed and breakfasts Australia wide in the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice awards.

Book your Stanthorpe accommodation at Diamondvale Lodge.