Ask somebody to call Queensland’s greatest drawcards and it is unlikely they will point out wine. Yet within the late 1800s, Brisbane had round 140 hectares of vineyards that produced greater than 100,000 litres of vino a 12 months. It was a formidable effort given the formidable challenges of rising grapes in a sub-tropical local weather. Predictably, the main focus of manufacturing moved to the cooler southern states however there are nonetheless a shocking variety of Queensland wineries which are managing to make it work.
In 2020, the state launched the Vine and Shine Trail, a collection of self-guided wine journeys that discover Queensland’s six most important wine areas, from the Granite Belt close to the border with NSW to South Burnett inland from Noosa. I made a decision to comply with the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast path, a 150-kilometre highway journey that begins in Brisbane and meanders via the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Having by no means tried a Queensland wine, I used to be each intrigued and – if I’m sincere – somewhat sceptical. If they’re that good, why have I by no means seen one in Sydney?
When it opened in 2019, City Winery turned Brisbane’s first inner-city vineyard for greater than 150 years. Winemaker Dave Cush sources grapes primarily from South Australia, ships the fermented juice to Brisbane after which transforms it into wine in a transformed warehouse in Fortitude Valley. Winemaking occurs within the morning, after which the house opens as an atmospheric cellar door and restaurant.
Cush produces a variety of varietals, from a crisp, citrusy fiano to a giant, daring mix of montepulciano and mataro. There are experimental drops too, similar to a co-ferment of muscat and grenache (some folks adore it, others – like me – are much less enamoured) and a tart, lip-pursing fiano made with pores and skin contact. My favorite is a wealthy, full-bodied GSM (grenache, shiraz and mataro), which pairs completely with a hearty lunch of tender pork stomach and a cloud-like ash-baked potato. The inhouse restaurant specialises in sustainably-sourced dry-aged meats, that are gradual cooked over a four-metre-long open fireplace.
The finest information? City Winery has 4 places in Brisbane so that you not want to go away town to have an genuine cellar door expertise.
It’s arduous to consider that Ocean View Estates made its first wine in 2002. In 20 years, it is blossomed from a fledgling household start-up to a refined, multifaceted operator with a cellar door, reward store, restaurant, operate house and lodging (three fashionable self-contained cottages). Located an hour north-west of Brisbane at 450 metres above sea degree, the 40-hectare vineyard is a bucolic montage of gently sloping vineyards and manicured lawns surrounded by verdant rolling countryside.
Visitors can pop in for a tasting, get pleasure from lunch within the award-winning restaurant or join a guided tour of the vineyard that features a scrumptious platter of native cheeses. For a real rockstar entrance, you possibly can even arrive by helicopter (two land throughout my go to).
For co-owner and chief winemaker Thomas Honnef, it is all about “accumulating flavours in the vineyard, then preserving those flavours in the winery”. Viognier, chardonnay, shiraz and ruby cabernet are all grown onsite, whereas verdelho and merlot are sourced from vineyards in South Burnett.
The viognier is a crisp, fruity quantity whereas the ruby cabernet is plummy and full-bodied. They’re premium drops (bottles begin at $44) and are solely out there on the vineyard and restaurant. It’s a typical theme, dictated by the comparatively small volumes of fruit grown right here, which explains why it is so uncommon to see a Queensland wine interstate.
Honnef is among the state’s solely winemakers to provide a glowing viognier and he is at the moment experimenting with a rack drying method he first noticed in Italy. Not that he’ll bombard you with too many technical particulars. “I try and keep the wankery out of it,” he says with a smile.
From Ocean View, it is a scenic 40-minute drive with spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains to Woongooroo Estate Winery within the Somerset Valley. Owners Phil and Gail Close had been academics and musicians earlier than taking the plunge and planting their first grapes in 1997. They have lower than one hectare underneath vines so additionally use fruit sourced from the Granite Belt to provide an intriguing number of wines, from an apple-scented semillon/sav blanc mix and a semi-sweet muscat to a easy, fruity merlot and an 18-month barrel-aged port.
Expect a heat welcome from Roxie, the vineyard canine, earlier than being ushered right into a homely, wood-panelled tasting room embellished with household images and sporting memorabilia. The finest bit? The wines are a cut price, beginning at $12 for a bottle of the eminently quaffable Classic White sauvignon blanc.
Montville is among the Sunshine Coast hinterland’s gems, a horny village stuffed with boutiques, artwork galleries and glorious eating places that enjoys stellar views from its elevated place within the Blackall Range. What most guests do not realise is that 5 minutes away is an property making Mediterranean-style wines that may maintain their very own in opposition to the perfect of the big-name manufacturers from the southern states.
Flame Hill Vineyard is the brainchild of Tony Thompson, a straight-talking nation Queenslander who’s obsessed with growing a sustainable, regional-focused tourism providing. All Flame Hill’s wines are made utilizing hand-harvested fruit from the property’s vineyards in Montville and the Granite Belt. All the meat served within the vineyard’s restaurant comes from Flame Hill’s working cattle farm and a lot of the poultry, herbs and veggies are sourced from an onsite kitchen backyard.
It’s an admirable method that is producing spectacular outcomes. The wines vary from a clear, unoaked chardonnay and a crisp, easy-drinking fiano to an uncommon smoke-tinged rose and a mushy, heat merlot. Thompson is among the solely winemakers within the area making a barbera and it is a magnificence – a deep pink drop with a fruity, nearly pinot-like end. He’s additionally planning to provide Queensland’s first lagrein and has some “interesting stuff in the tanks”, together with a marsanne and a roussanne.
The vineyard’s open-sided restaurant gives fabulous native fare with mesmerising winery views (I extremely suggest the platter of native charcuterie and cheeses) and there is fashionable onsite lodging too: a pair of self-contained timber cottages, each elegantly furnished with full kitchens and a welcome bottle of complimentary port.
It’s one other feather within the hinterland’s already crowded cap. People have lengthy been interested in the area’s quaint villages, glorious eating places, improbable bushwalks and views so distractingly scenic it is a miracle they do not trigger extra accidents. Now there’s one other compelling purpose to go to: Queensland wine.
The Vine and Shine Trail is a spread of self-guided highway journeys via Queensland’s six most important wine areas. Check every itemizing remains to be working as three on the Sunshine Coast path have since closed (Nirvana Estate, Winya Wines and Clovely Estate City Cellar). See vineandshinetrail.com.au
Flame Hill Vineyard, 249 Western Avenue, Montville, QLD. The vineyard has two spacious three-bedroom cottages with full kitchens, fireplaces and huge verandahs. It prices from $250 an evening with a two-night minimal keep at weekends. See flamehill.com.au
Rob McFarland was a visitor of Brisbane Economic Development Agency and Visit Sunshine Coast.