Three wineries not to be missed in the Granite Belt
In my years as a lawyer, I’ve worked out a couple of strategies to keep me from burning out. One of the big ones is how I approach my work – I figured out early that just knowing the law was not enough to make my job rewarding. I encourage my clients to focus on the bigger picture and especially to think beyond their family law dispute – thinking about the next chapter is often a great way to encourage a more collaborative approach. This keeps me connected to the people I’m dealing with, which in turn makes my work meaningful. Another way I keep myself sane is by making plenty of time to relax with family and friends and do activities that we love. Some of my very favourite trips have involved visiting wine and food regions, both here in Australia and across the world.
It was around this time last year that my husband I spent a long weekend with a bunch of mates in Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe is a lovely little country town about three hours’ drive south of Brisbane, surrounded by the Granite Belt, which known for its grape growing and therefore its wineries. Mmm… wine country.
What I love about the Granite Belt is that most of its wineries are trying alternative grape varietals. If you are out there I would really recommend that you pick up a Strange Birds map, as it lists the wineries that are producing alternative wines. To be listed on the map, a variety must represent not more than 1% of the total fruit-bearing vines in Australia. There are 31 different wineries on the map in the Granite Belt alone!
Feeling really nostalgic about last year’s trip, I decided to write about my three favourite wineries in the Granite Belt.
Bent Road Wines is really the reason that I first came to love Stanthorpe and how I came to have a greater appreciation for wine and the winemaking process. The winery is owned by Glen and his partner Robert. Glen (who also happens to be the uncle of a good friend) is one of the most passionate people you will ever meet and indulges me with discussions about champagne and travel. You could really say he is the reason I become a self-confessed ‘wine wanker’.
Bent Road Wines has three labels, Bent Road, 2BC and La Petite Mort (French for “the little death” and slang for something else… I will leave you to google that one). To me, their LPM is a bit more experimental and if you were going to pick a wine because of their amazing labels this would be top of your list (how could you not love a skeleton lying down with grapes coming out of it). My favourites at the moment are their 2017 Pinot Noir Rose and their new orange wine, the Amphora VMR 2017 (Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne).
Bent Road Winery has a cellar door in a beautiful converted church, which is opened by appointment only.
The owners at Symphony Hill do such a great job of promoting Queensland wine, so you may have already met one of the owners (Ewen or his lovely son whose name presently escapes me!) at a one of the local food and wine expos. Their head winemaker Mike Hayes was named winemaker of the year in November 2017, which I understand to be the first time a Queensland winemaker has been the recipient of that award. It is really not surprising to see that most of their wines have been award winners.
The winery has a tasting room, or if you are in a larger group you might be able to ask for a special tasting in the barrel room. There really is no other experience like tasting the wines next to the barrels they were aged in.
What is really special and a real reflection on the type of winery Symphony Hill is, is that one of their wines, The Danying, is named after their daughter who they adopted from China. Ten percent of the sales from this wine are donated to organisations and families caring for Asian orphans.
If you had to push me for my favourite (which is not hard as you have gathered by now I enjoy Granite Belt wines), it would be their Gewurztraminer, a perfect wine to take along to your next BYO night at an Indian or Asian restaurant as it compliments spicy food perfectly.
This winery limits production to between 100 and 160 cases of each varietal every year. So, depending on the time of year that you visit the Granite Belt there may be limited wines left for you to purchase or sample at the cellar door.
The tasting with winemaker Andrew is a real experience, not only for his knowledge but for the fact that each wine tasted is poured into a clean Riedel glass. It is this attention to detail that makes the tasting such a memorable experience.
My personal favourite is their Jacob Tempranillo. It was one of the first bottle of wines my husband and I shared together when we first met and is will perfectly accompany a Charcuterie or cheese platter.
As I started this blog it was titled ‘Three wineries not to be missed in the Granite Belt’, but I think there is one more that deserves a mention. Savina Lane is owned by Brad and Cheryl Hutchings who always make you feel like the real MVP when visiting their cellar door. For the last few years their Wild Yeast Viognier has been astounding, and we have cellared a few bottles to see how it will continue to develop over the years.
Of course, the Granite Belt is absolutely teeming with great wineries and every time I visit the region, I try to check out something new. If you have any wine recommendations (Granite Belt or otherwise!), I’d love to hear about them!