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The Granite Belt: Beautiful One Day, Perfect Wine The Next

Cool climate wines from Queensland – if that sounds strange, head to the Granite Belt wine region and you’ll find plenty!

It’s well established that the first ‘official’ Australian wine region was Farm Cove NSW, planted by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788. But what about the second? If you assumed it was in South Australia, Victoria or even Tasmania, you would be wrong. 

It is, in fact, Queensland’s Granite Belt, planted in 1820, preceding Victorian and South Australian regions by 15-plus years.

Given most of Queensland is hot and tropical, we usually associate it with beaches and reefs rather than grape vines. However, the Sunshine State has a rich and varied agricultural history and people are now starting to favour the Granite Belt’s cool climate, Euro-style wines.

Three hours south west of Brisbane on the southern Darling Downs, the Granite Belt is situated around Queensland’s apple capital, Stanthorpe. This is heralded on your arrival by a massive apple on a pole, a bold indicator of local pride in the tradition of Coffs Harbour’s big banana, Ballina’s prawn and Goulburn’s Merino.

Originally known as ‘Quart Pot Creek’, Stanthorpe was settled when tin was discovered in the late 1800s. Fruit production followed as the altitude and climate started to attract Italian immigrants who’d come to Australia to cut cane and then moved south to take up pastoral leases. 

Cool Climb Wines

Granite Belt Wine Region

As you travel south west from Ipswich along the Cunningham Highway, you start the gradual climb through the Great Dividing Range. By the town of Aratula, a popular resting spot, the temperature drops considerably and you realise how cool it gets at 110 metres above sea level. 

The Granite Belt has some of Australia’s highest altitude vineyards and it is the associated cool climate that is the perfect setting for the region’s fine boned wines.

So don’t visit this region expecting big, ripe wine styles that are popular in warmer areas. The cool climate dictates that the Granite Belt’s wine styles are closer to those of Europe. Think medium bodied, savoury reds with fine tannins and pronounced acidity. In the whites, expect lighter, citrus driven styles with elegant layers and fine acid lines.

Adding to the Granite Belt’s wine identity is the fact it excels in alternative styles. While you’ll certainly find mainstream varieties like ShirazCabernet and Chardonnay, real excitement comes from discoveries like FianoVermentino, Chenin Blanc, Savagnin, Barbera, Graciano, Durif, Nebbiolo and Tannat.

Granite Belt producers have long recognised that these varieties are the future and with their unique alternative identity, have dubbed themselves the ‘Strange Birds’ of the Australian wine scene. In fact, visitors can explore this fascinating region by following one of the Strange Bird Wine Trails.

BOIREANN WINERY

Granite Belt Boireann Winery

Established in the early 1980s by Peter and Therese Stark, Boireann has been a Granite Belt standout for decades. While quality and consistency are high, production is low, with reds the specialty and only a very small amount of Viognier grown to co-ferment with Shiraz. Standouts are their Shiraz Viognier, Barbera, Nebbiolo and the ‘Rosso’, a Nebbiolo Barbera blend.

www.boireannwinery.com.au/

GOLDEN GROVE

Third generation winemaker Ray Costanzo has made wine all over the world, but is passionate about the Granite Belt. Golden Grove is one of the oldest wineries in the region, making a wide range of wines including Sparkling Vermentino, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and Tempranillo, but it is Ray’s Vermentino that has developed a solid following. 

www.goldengroveestate.com.au

JESTER HILL

Established in 1993, Jester Hill is now a family affair, having been bought by ex-health professionals Michael and Ann Burke in 2010. With the new focus that Michael is bringing to the wines, the estate is building momentum and picking up accolades along the way. Standouts include their Roussanne, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Petit Verdot

www.jesterhillwines.com.au/

BALLANDEAN

Ballandean winery granite belt

With an extraordinary history of winemaking that stretches back to the 1930s, the Puglisi family have been operating their cellar door and passionately flying the Granite Belt flag since 1970. Fourth generation Puglisis Leeane and Robyn are warm, generous, regional advocates, who have a large cellar door from which they love sharing their passion for both the wines and the people of the Granite Belt. Tasting highlights include their Viognier, Opera Block Shiraz and Saperavi, a full-bodied red that originally hails from Georgia.

 www.ballandeanestate.com/

JUST RED

Another family-owned winery, Just Red is run by Tony and Julie Hassall with their son Michael and daughter Nikki. Just Red’s organic wines are styled on the great wines of the Rhône and are winning awards in the show system. Their star wines include Tannat, Shiraz Viognier, Cabernet Merlot.

www.justred.com.au/

RIDGEMILL ESTATE WINERY

Ridgemill Estate winery queensland wine regions

Starting its life as Emerald Hill in 1998, Ridgemill boasts a modern but unpretentious cellar door looking out on dramatic mountain surroundings. The broad range of wines is crafted by winemaker Peter McGlashan and includes Chardonnay, Shiraz, Shiraz Viognier, Mourvèdre and Saparavi. With its self-contained studio cabins, Ridgemill is a great place to base yourself.

www.ridgemillestate.com/

SYMPHONY HILL

Girraween Estate in the Granite Belt

Symphony Hill’s winemaker Mike Hayes is quite possibly the Australian king of alternative wine varieties. Mike won the Churchill Fellowship and travelled around the world studying alternative styles. His wines are highly awarded, vibrant and interesting. A trip to the Granite Belt is not complete without a tasting with Mike, including his standout expressions of Fiano, Lagrien, Gewürztraminer, Petit Verdotand Reserve Shiraz.

www.symphonyhill.com.au/

TOBIN WINE

Adrian Tobin’s wines are a strong philosophical statement, reinforcing the notion that wine is made in the vineyard.  Since establishing Tobin Wine in 1999, Adrian has been deeply connected to his vines and produces a small amount of high quality Sauv Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet. All of Adrian’s wines are named after his grandchildren and are collectables. 

www.tobinwines.com.au/

GIRRAWEEN ESTATE

Girraween estate granite belt

Steve Messiter and his wife Lisa started Girraween Estate in 2009. Small and picturesque, it is home to one of the region’s earliest vine plantings. They produce modest amounts of Sparkling wines, including Pinot Chardonnay along with Shiraz, Rosé and Sauv Blanc. Their table wines include Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet. 

www.girraweenestate.com.au

FEELING HUNGRY

There is no shortage of good food in the Granite Belt, but a trip to Sutton’s Farm is essential. An apple orchard, it’s owned by David and Roslyn Sutton, who specialise in all things apple, including juice, cider and brandy. Their shed café also pays homage to the humble apple with the signature dish being home made apple pie served with Sutton’s spiced apple cider ice cream and whipped cream.

For breakfast, try Zest Café located in town, where the coffee is fantastic and their baking game is strong. Their breakfast will definitely see you going back for seconds. 

A delicious choice for lunch or dinner is the Barrelroom and Larder, lovingly run by Travis Crane and Arabella Chambers.  Attached to Ballandean winery, the Barrelroom is casual in style and fine in output. Everything that Travis and Arabella cook comes from within a three hour radius and if it doesn’t exist in that area, they don’t cook it.

A fantastic way to spend an afternoon is with Ben and Louise Lanyon at their McGregor Terrace Food Project. Based in a Stanthorpe, this neighborhood bistro with a gorgeous whimsical garden offers cooking from the heart with the surrounds to match.

Whether your choice is a Granite Belt alternative ‘Strange Bird’ or a more traditional varietal, take it along to Ben and Lou’s Food Project, sit out the back and you’ll feel like you’re in the south of France. You will, in fact, be in Queensland, thinking that it is a pretty cool place to be; literally and figuratively. 

 

 

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Six of the Best Adelaide Hills Wineries and Cellar Doors
Home to a host of world-class wineries and just a 20-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills region is just waiting to be explored. Discover the best cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map . Although it is situated quite close to the Barossa , the high altitude of the Adelaide Hills and the shelter from nearby Mount Lofty creates a significantly cooler and wetter climate, perfect for styles such as Sauvignon Blanc , Chardonnay and Pinot Noir . And, if you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, then the Adelaide Hills should be high on your must visit list. Whereas the typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is quite herbaceous and high in acid, the Adelaide Hills is renowned for producing wines in its own style with elegant citrussy finesse and an underlying tropical richness. So, if you generally aren’t a fan of “Savvy B”, then prepare to have your mind blown. To help plan your trip, we’ve selected a collection of Adelaide Hills wineries we feel provide the best cellar door experience, plus we’ve included a handy interactive map down below. Adelaide Hills Cellar Doors List   K1 by Geoff Hardy
Geoff Hardy’s K1 cellar door is, without doubt, one of the most magnificent cellar doors in Australia. Enjoy breathtaking views over the lake and vineyard from the verandah, before heading inside to sample the spectacular range of single estate (or even single block) wines at the hand-crafted tasting bench forged by Geoff from 400-year-old red gum.  And, if you’d like to experience a tasting of their premium vintage Sparkling, Tzimmukin Shiraz Cabernet and reserve museum stock, then be sure to try the Icons Experience for a modest fee (redeemable on purchase of any of the three wines from the tasting). 159 Tynan Rd, Kuitpo – view on our map Open daily 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Wines by Geoff Hardy website   Shaw + Smith
This sleek and modern Adelaide Hills winery focuses on the classic styles, best suited to the Adelaide Hills – Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The whole look and feel of the modern tasting room is more reminiscent of a high-end restaurant than a winery. This is fitting, as the focus is on seated table service and guided flights of five Shaw + Smith wines matched to local cheeses, perfect for an afternoon visit. 136 Jones Rd, Balhanna – view on our map Open daily 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Shaw & Smith website   The Lane Vineyard
This spectacular Adelaide Hills cellar door is the full package, with fantastic wines, great scenery, unique tasting experiences and a top restaurant. The modern tasting room focuses on personalised, seated tastings where knowledgeable staff take you through a guided flight of their single vineyard wines paired with delicate morsels from Executive Chef James Brinklow, while you peer over the very same vines that produced your wine. The experience guides everything that The Lane Vineyard does, which is evident in the wide range of experiences you can pre-arrange, including barrel cellar master classes, vineyard tours, DIY wine blending and their indulgent 3-hour Chef’s Table experience. Find out more about The Lane Vineyard’s restaurant in Selector Magazine’s Taste of the Adelaide Hills article. 5 Ravenswood Ln, Hahndorf - view on our map Open daily 10 am to 4 pm Visit The Lane Vineyard website   Howard Vineyard
This charming family owned Adelaide Hills winery is set inside an immaculately restored stone barn, surrounded by gum trees, terraced lawns and rolling vines, the perfect setting to sample their elegant, cool climate Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sparkling. After your wine tasting, make sure to take the time to wander through their beautifully manicured gardens, play a spot of croquet or cosy inside by the fire with a glass of one of their award-winning wines. And, every Sunday, the Clover Restaurant opens for lunch with Head Chef and former MasterChef contestant, Heather Day preparing a fantastic South-East Asian inspired menu, perfectly complementing Howard Vineyard’s excellent Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Lot 1, 53 Bald Hills Road, Nairne – view on our map Open Tue to Sun 10 am to 5 pm Visit the Howard Vineyard website   Bird in Hand
The Bird in Hand winery is one of the most impressive in Australia, with a great setting, an excellent cellar door, art gallery, a notable restaurant and an expansive lawn that hosts a range of local and international touring artists each year. The refined cool-climate wines available to taste are equally impressive, with a superb range of premium traditional varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, through to exciting alternative varieties such as Nero d’avola, Montepulciano and Arneis. You can find out more about their great lunchtime dining option in The Gallery restaurant in this recent Selector article . Bird in Hand Rd & Pfeiffer Rd, Woodside – view on our map Open daily; Mon to Frid 10 am to 5 pm; Sat to Sun 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Bird in Hand website   Deviation Road
This charming boutique winery is the perfect place to relax outdoors in the sunshine on their deck as you enjoy the great range of wines on offer. Husband and wife duo, Hamish and Kate Laurie are renowned for their award-winning artisanal Sparkling, due in no small part to Kate’s training from the Lycee Viticole d’Avize in Champagne. Taste their great range of premium cool climate wines from Sparkling and aromatic whites to basket pressed red wines, or book in for a tutored wine flight or master class. 207 Scott Creek Road, Longwood – view on our map Open daily 10 am to 5 pm Visit the Deviation Road website Adelaide Hills Winery Map Planning a trip to the Adelaide Hills? Download our interactive Adelaide Hills winery map. To save on your browser or device, click here . For more information on visiting the Adelaide Hills, be sure to visit the Adelaide Hills Wine website or stop by the visitor information centre in the on the corner of Mount Barker and Balhannah Rd in Hahndorf. But, if you'd like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our selection of Adelaide Hills wines and find out more about the wineries listed here in our Meet the Makers section . And, with the Wine Selectors Regional Release program , you'll experience a different wine region each Release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you’ll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our Wine Plans page to find out more!
Wine
Wine Traveler Riverland
Words by Dave Brookes on 28 Dec 2017
While South Australia’s riverland region has always been famous for bulk wine production, innovative local winemakers are changing the landscape by planting a range of grape varieties perfectly suited to the hot, dry climate. As I sit down to pen this brief piece on the Riverland , I’m reminded of the words of that great American philosopher LL Cool J who rhymed, “don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years; I’m rockin my peers; Puttin’ suckers in fear”. Mic drop from Queens. Perhaps I’m getting carried away. I’ve always been told I have a fertile imagination, but who would have thought a decade ago that boutique winemakers from Margaret River to Coonawarra would be sourcing fruit from the Riverland and proudly displaying that fact on their wine labels? The Riverland has always been, along with several other regions that lie along the life-giving artery of the Murray, the engine-room of the Australian wine industry. The Riverland accounts for over 50% of South Australia’s wine crush and around 30% of the national total, some 470,123 tonnes in 2017. It is a very important region for Australian wine. One winery alone, Berri Estates, is the largest grape processor in the southern hemisphere, crushing some 220,000 tonnes of grapes annually or around one-third of the total grape crush of South Australia. Several years ago, I recall driving with the Berri Estates winemaker to the crushers; a journey through a huge truck marshalling area complete with traffic wardens. He turned to me and said, “Can you feel the romance?” Funny, but the sheer scale of the operation was astounding. The Riverland is also a region well aware of the hardships of farming; of extended droughts and the plunging grape prices of boom & bust cycles. But the droughts, while devastating for growers already struggling with low grape prices, have forced some changes for the better. Included among them are sustainable irrigation, drought hardy rootstock and clonal research, and the planting of alternative varieties, or, as one local winemaker described them, “appropriate varieties.” King of grapes
One of the larger producers is Kingston Estate, established by Greek immigrants, Nina & Steve Moularadellis in the mid-1980s after they met picking grapes in the early 1960s. Today, you can still find them in the winery most days, but it is son Bill who steers the ship. Kingston Estate produce a range of wines that offer great value for money and drinking pleasure. Their portfolio centres around the European classic varieties, but for me, when I think of the estate, it is their Petit Verdot that springs to mind and it is certainly a variety they have hung their hat on. Deeply coloured and laden with rich fruit and spice, it possesses an ample structure with plenty of ripe tannin and is a variety that seems to thrive in the warmer climes of the Riverland. Salena Estate, another of the larger operators, has around 520 acres under vine, roughly half of which is certified organic. Their range includes classic varieties, across different price points that provide great drinking, and their ‘Ink’ series concentrates on the ‘appropriate’ varieties with some great examples including Montepulciano , Graciano, Bianco d’Alessano and Vermentino . The Banrock Station cellar door is top-notch with the complete range of wines available for tasting, a great little restaurant if you are feeling peckish and the amazing wetlands ecosystem with walking trails if you need to stretch your legs. The Angove cellar door in Renmark is another must visit for the quality and diversity of their range of wines with fruit sourced from the Riverland and further afield across South Australia. In recent times, the interest in sourcing fruit from the Riverland by winemakers based outside the region has been pleasing to see. There are several factors at play here. Better farming practices and increased interest in some of the varieties that end in ‘O’ that seem well suited to the region are certainly in the mix. Another is the tireless efforts, boundless energy and great farming nous of Ashley Ratcliff of Ricca Terra Farms, who has done much to raise the profile of the Riverland as a source of well-farmed, alternative varieties. Part of this nous was knowing when to take a risk on doing something new. As he explains, “During the boom times in the Riverland, grape prices were up and getting people to change their practices was hard. Why would you decrease your yields and plant new varieties? When things turned, however, others panicked, but we were brave; buying up vineyards and planting alternative varieties that now fetch sustainable prices.” Ashley’s Ricca Terra Farms is just outside Bamera and is planted with many of the varieties that are now sought after in the region – Nero d’Avola , Fiano , Vermentino , Montepulciano , Zibbibo, Muscato Giallo and the curiously named, Slankamenca Bela. As well as supplying grapes for other winemakers, Ashley has his own ‘Ricca Terra’ label featuring inventive blends of these varieties. Another producer riding the wave of the alternative varieties that are well-suited to the Riverland is Alex Russell Wines. Viticulturist and winemaker Alex Russell crafts a range of delicious wines from Montepulciano, Vermentino, and Lagrein to Nero d’Avola, Saperavi and Graciano. Alex’s range of wines hold true to the tenet that a wines ‘raison d’etre’ is to be above all else, delicious to drink and they have picked up a swathe of awards at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura . small names, big impression
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Riverland is on the up and up and if you haven’t sampled its wines, now is the time. Perhaps its reputation has been unfairly tarnished as a source of lower-end, bulk wine offerings, but today the wines have never been better and there is an undercurrent of innovation, sustainable viticulture and experimentation that bodes very well for its future.
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City of Wine
Words by Richelle Harrison-Plesse on 10 May 2017
Escape to the heart of Bordeaux, where the magnificent Cité du Vin carries you away on a multi-sensory adventure. Dubbed a 'Disneyland for adults', France's Cité du Vin - recently opened in Bordeaux - is dedicated to the history of wine. But instead of tea cups and roller coasters, at this wine 'theme park' you'll get your thrills from wine glasses and drink coasters. Costing a budget-busting 81 million Euros ($AUD 116 million) and taking more than two decades to become reality, the multi-storey Cité du Vin is a truly impressive temple to viticulture. The building itself (designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières from the Parisian agency XTU) is an architectural triumph. Featuring thousands of glass and metallic glazed panels, the imposing aluminium structure is all shimmering curves. Evoking the swirl of wine moving in a glass, its sculptural form also reflects the undulating Garonne river, which the building overlooks from the city's left bank. This mecca for wine-lovers is not just aimed at connoisseurs; the Cité du Vin hopes to make the vinous tipple accessible to everyone via a playful, hands-on journey of discovery. It claims to be the world's largest wine museum, offering visitors an immersive experience through the world's wine culture and its universal heritage. "I don't like to call it a museum," says Sylvie Cazes, president of the Foundation for the Culture and Civilisations of Wine, "because the word suggests a bunch of dusty collections. This is completely interactive and unlike anything seen before." That goes for its wine collection too, which doesn't limit itself to the Grands Crus of Bordeaux. "When the project started some 20 years ago, there was a Bordeaux focus," says Sylvie, "but over time it evolved to include wines from everywhere." The ground floor wine boutique houses more than 14,000 bottles of 800 different wines from some 80 countries. There are even drops from unlikely destinations such as Ethiopia, Indonesia and Tahiti. If you're not ready to splurge on a bottle, some wines can be tasted (for a corkage fee) at the bar.   CONVIVAL CLASSES However, it's on the upper floors of the Cité du Vin where the real fun starts. Go beyond a wine's taste to discover other aspects of its character during one of the workshop sessions. These take place in sleek, multi-sensory spaces featuring 360 degree projections, sounds and a scent diffusion system.  Far from being straight-up wine-tasting classes, the experience is casual and convivial. "They're focused on the spirit of sharing, as everyone has a different relationship with wine", says Sylvie. Meanwhile, in a bid to keep the local clientele coming back, the Cité du Vin shows temporary exhibitions in the Salle des Colonnes, and all year long, the 250-seater Thomas Jefferson auditorium plays host to concerts, film screenings and debates.   FEAST FOR THE SENSES The headline visitor attraction is the permanent exhibition, where the interactive multimedia experience is a real feast for the senses and a glorious celebration of every facet of wine. With 19 themed sections, the Cité du Vin has all bases covered, from the lands that produce the grapey goodness, and winegrowers around the world, to wine's influence on thousands of years of society, and its connection to the arts. Each display is fascinating, thanks to the clever use of 3D imagery, aroma diffusion, or video game technology. Not forgetting punters not yet old enough to enjoy wine; the Cité du Vin reaches out to younger visitors with fun, age-appropriate displays. The museum's highlights range from giant video screens looping mesmerising vistas of the world's winemaking regions, and the 'getting to know you' feature with (virtual) winegrowers from all corners of the globe, to the 'meet the experts' panel where you can seek one-on-one advice from wine professionals (again, in virtual form). Whether you listen to a Michelin-starred chef or a respected sommelier, their answers on how to buy wine, how to serve wine, and whether wine awards mean anything, may surprise you. Refuelling takes place on the 7th floor where Le 7 restaurant offers sweeping views over the Garonne and the Port de la Lune. Chef Nicolas Lascombes rustles up his brand of world cuisine with a French twist using seasonal and regional produce. Wash it all down with your choice of 500 wines from 50 countries. Indeed, la pièce de résistance is the Belvédère, the rooftop wine bar, which boasts a stunning panorama of Bordeaux. This is where you wrap up your visit (only those who have paid museum entry fees can access it) while sipping on a glass of wine included in the ticket price. Soak up the views from the 10 metre-long oak bar, or gape at the 4,000 glass bottles suspended from the ceiling. Tasters can choose from a regularly rotating selection of five Bordeaux wines and 15 from around the world. As to why the Cité du Vin would open its doors in Bordeaux, it couldn't have happened anywhere else, says Sylvie. "It's a big city with the most famous wine-producing region in the world, and the biggest producer of AOC wine." The founder of the Cité du Vin, Alain Juppé, who is also the mayor of Bordeaux (and a 2017 French Presidential hopeful) has called the museum his 'Guggenheim'. An ambitious claim, but it's certainly gone some way to cementing the World Heritage listed city's status as the unrivalled world capital of wine.   STAY AND PLAY Take the wine theme all the way with a luxurious stay at Les Sources de Caudalie , an intimate, five-star boutique hotel nestled in Bordeaux wine country. Indulge your tastebuds at one of three on site restaurants, including the magnificent Michelin-starred La Grand' Vigne. Take a guided tour of the  Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte  , just steps from the hotel, or borrow a bike for a leisurely ride through the sun-dappled vineyards. The cherry (or grape) on top is the spa offering exclusive vinotherapy wine-based treatments. Book at  sources-caudalie.com  , rooms from 240 Euros.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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