Beach, sun and cocktails come to mind when you think of Queensland, but did you know the Sunshine State is also home to stunning wine country? So ditch your towel and bathers in favour of your best wine tasting palate and get ready to sample the best of Queensland’s high country.
The Granite Belt is the Sunshine State’s premier wine region, sitting on the northern edge of the Queensland and New South Wales border. It’s also one of Australia’s highest wine regions, sitting at 1000 metres above sea level with a unique four season climate to match, making it unlike any other part of Queensland.
When it comes to wine, think bold, rich reds such as cabernet and shiraz, and textural chardonnay. But if you like to drink outside the box you’re in luck. The Granite Belt’s alternative varieties are highlighted in the Strange Birds Trail - a cellar door route showcasing the region’s unique varieties including verdelho, tempranillo and vermentino.
The Granite Belt is just over three hours’ drive from the Gold Coast but once you’re there, the wineries are close together and a drive from one end of the region to the other is only about 45 minutes. With over 50 wineries and plenty of stunning national parks and food experiences you can easily spend a weekend or longer in the region.
Where to Stay
For vineyard views you can’t go past Ridgemill Estate’s on-site accommodation, offering options for families, couples and small groups in their studio cabins overlooking estate vines. If you want to experience the natural beauty of the region there are plenty of options with 31 the Rocks, Granite Belt Brewery and Retreat and Whiskey Gully Wines’ Bush Cottages. For the romantics and those looking for some well-earned luxury try Grovely House BnB or Alure Stanthorpe for extravagant glamping or villa accommodation.
You’ll enter the Granite Belt via the New England Highway where you’ll find your first stop Summit Estate. It’s the perfect introduction to the Belt’s alternative varieties which you can enjoy in a sit down tasting or an exclusive wine education session. Make a pit stop at Stanthorpe Cheese’s Jersey Girls Cafe on the way to Boireann Winery. If you fancy a good red this is the place to be – Boireann exclusively produces red wine, with a range of French and Italian red grape varieties, as well as Granite Belt classics on tasting. Next up is the stunning Ridgemill Estate. You can easily spend an afternoon plus more here, with the option to enjoy a wine and local platter on their scenic deck, indulge in a gourmet picnic on the estate lawns or warm up with a red by the fireplace. For dinner, we suggest heading into Stanthorpe to enjoy an Italian feast at local favourite Anna’s or a meal with a view at Varias Restaurant.
Start with a visit to Casley Mount Hutton Winery; we recommend their premium vertical tasting, recently awarded Granite Belt’s Best Additional Experience in Gourmet Traveller WINE’s 2019 Best Cellar Door Awards.
Next stop is Jester Hill Wines for some unique sparkling roussanne before a tasting at Hidden Creek Wines, where you can try both traditional and alternative Granite Belt styles including barbera, verdelho and tempranillo. Hungry? Stay for a seasonal lunch at the Hidden Creek Wines Cafe – you can either sit outside under the property’s leafy surrounds or inside with a view – though be sure to book!
If you’re travelling in winter, spend the afternoon at Savina Lane Wines. They’re open from late June to September and offer alternative varieties alongside traditional Granite Belt Shiraz.
Next stop is the Granite Belt Brewery to take a walk around the onsite micro brewery. Stay on for dinner at the brewery’s restaurant, open every night with a local menu sure to please any appetite!
Kick off your final day in the Belt with a visit to Tobin Wines, Star Cellar Door for the Granite Belt Region in Gourmet Traveller WINE’s 2019 Best Cellar Door Awards. Join the passionate Tobin Wines team for a tasting of their region expressive wines including the outstanding 2014 Tobin Jacob Reserva Tempranillo.
Next stop is Ballandean Wines, Queensland’s oldest family-owned and operated winery. There’s plenty to do here, with the estate offering wine flights, gourmet vineyard picnics, an onsite food gallery and daily winery tours. We recommend making a reservation in the winery’s Barrelroom restaurant for a local fine dining experience set with the authentic surrounds of 150-year-old port barrels.
Down the road is Symphony Hill Wines – stop in for an engaging and informative tasting of their classic shiraz and cabernet as well as alternative petit verdot and tempranillo.
The Granite Belt has so much to offer, so if you’re not heading back quite yet we suggest checking out some other great cellar doors including Golden Grove Estate and Balancing Rock Wines – when we said you could spend a while here we really meant it!