July 2024

For the Love of Country Queensland Wine, Granite Belt

Did someone say there is WINE in Sunny QUEENSLAND?

We take a tour and taste of The Granite Belt to find out more, as Australia’s highest wine country region, it sits over 900 metres above sea level and takes in the towns of Ballandean, Applethorpe and Stanthorpe.

We take the back road from Northern NSW and stop off at the charming town of Tenterfiled along the way. In just under four hours we reach our first Granite Belt wine stop, Bent Road in Ballandean, where we learn all about the ancient Qvevri wine technique-dating back eight thousand years to West Georgia, Europe.

Chief winemaker and Bent Road co-owner Glen Robert is passionate about making low intervention wines, stalks and all. With a background in science, Glen has applied his methodical brain to making unique blends- under the name of La Petite Mort, meaning the little death or elation post intimacy- if you catch my drift.

Bent Road was established a couple of decades ago and has been slowly marinating some of the regions tastiest varietals- made with the Qevri ceramic vessels. The vessels are filled with juicy Granite Belt grapes and stored underground, where the fermentation and magic happens.

The terroir is quite literally the earth and granite of the region, the result is an organic, rich flavour with hints of citrus, spices and wood. Glen and his team are all about making natural wines, where the rich soil and grapes do the talking- coupled with artful labels and a tasting room that is as decadent as it is welcoming-Bent Rd is making wine waves across the country.

Time for a long, slow country style lunch at the renowned Jamworks about 10 minutes down the road, (so the locals tell us) which translates to 20 minutes in real time. Jamworks has been passed down through the family and showcases produce from across the region. From home style cooking to farm fresh condiments, and the freshest jams from the adjacent farmlands.

We opt for a loaded beef pie and calamari salad with apple and grapes of course, and lashings of smoked chilli relish. There’s a range of boozy jams, marmalades, pickles and butters to take home-hot tip grab a shot next to the supersized jam jars, on the way out.

Time to rest our wine heads for the night, at Ridgemill Estate a traditional style winery, that specialises in Tempranillo, Albarino and Saperavi. The vineyards roots are deeply rooted in Spanish heritage, from the predecessors. The current owners Martin Cooper and Michelle Feenan have kept the Spanish tradition alive and produce some of the best Tempranillo this side of the border.

Walk the property, feed the friendly goats, and sample the array of wines at the tasting room, with a commanding bull sculpture at the entrance- you know you’re in country Queensland. We arrive as the town is preparing for the popular Apple and Grape Festival held every two years to celebrate the harvest season.

Speaking of apples, our last stop is Eastern Colour, a ‘pick your own’ farm experience, derived from the regions Italian roots-the farm has been growing apples since the 1930’s. The owners, the Baronio family were part of the migrant population who settled in the Granite Belt- bringing wine making and farming skills with them.

We pick some of the juiciest Royal Galas from the thriving apple orchard and indulge in the sweetest, strawberries from the purpose made tunnels-built to withstand the elements. Applethorpe is a stones throw from Stanthorpe the central town of the Granite Belt region.

There are around forty vineyards in the Granite Belt, that include established wineries like Heritage Estate, Ballandean Estate, and Balancing Heart - under the guidance of local winemaker Mike Hayes, an expert in his field. More recently the likes Art of Krupinski and Dear Vincent have gained recognition and ‘hot off the press’ the team at Dear Vincent are transforming the old Ballandean Tavern, into a foodie and wine hub.

The Granite Belt is firmly on the nations wine map, a charming destination with fruitful vineyards and open farm gates- jump on a Savour Tasting Trail for all the juicy details.

Author - Travelling Senorita

Queensland Country Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways that run through these regions. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging.