Grape harvest season (aka vintage) is what it’s all about on the Granite Belt – picking luscious wine grapes for fabulous wines.
If you’re looking for an experience beyond wine tasting at cellar doors, the Granite Belt’s harvest season is the best time to visit where you can find an authentic ‘behind the scenes’ look or even hands-on experience at wineries.
Read on to find out how to get amongst the juicy action.
When is harvest on the Granite Belt?
February, March and April
Timing varies from season to season, but generally, grape harvest kicks off on the Granite Belt in early to mid-February. By the end of February, most wineries are harvesting white grape varieties.
March is an ideal month to visit for all the grape harvest action, with lots of crushing and fermentation happening in the wineries. Plenty of harvesting continues through April too. During May, typically only a few of the last ripening red grape varieties are still being harvested.
Want to know about the apple harvest? Read on here.
Be a Winemaker for a Weekend
Become a winemaker for the weekend (literally!). On one weekend in February and March each year The Queensland College of Wine Tourism, in Stanthorpe offers a hands-on winemaking experience, inviting you to participate in the production of your very own wine at the onsite vineyard and winery.
In the ‘Winemaker for a Weekend’ program, you’ll find yourself involved at every step of the winemaking process, from handpicking the grapes to the crushing and pressing process, preparation, fermentation and the inoculation of the juice.
Can’t make it? Check out their 2024 Vintage Tour and Tasting exclusively held Wednesdays and Thursdays until the final crush of vintage around end of March. Enjoy a leisurely tour in the winery and vineyard, led by their winemaker. After the tour, a wine tasting and cheese platter awaits you at their cellar door (all included!). Find out more here.
Visit the Boutique Winemakers during Harvest
To hear the story of how harvest is progressing, who better to ask than the vignerons and winemaker themselves? Here on the Granite Belt, often the person pouring your glass at the cellar door also grows the grapes or crafts the wine (or both).
All the wineries on the Granite Belt are small, so this brings you closer to all the action and knowledge of vintage as it happens. A few wineries where you can always meet the winemaker/vignerons in the cellar door are: Bungawarra Wines, Art of Krupinski, Casley Mt Hutton, Jester Hill Wines, Pyramids Road Wines, View Wine by Sancerre Estate and Ravenscroft Vineyard.
Have An Exclusive Tasting with the Winemaker
If you’re visiting Monday to Thursday, do yourself a favour and book an exclusive Winemaker’s Tasting Experience with Peter McGlashan, Ridgemill Estate‘s head winemaker. The experience includes a behind-the-scenes tasting experience, a session with the winemaker and a cheese board.
Looking for something more hands-on? Try their ‘Pick Crush Plunge’ Experience. This 2-hour guided experience will have you soaking up the daily action of vintage. No two days are the same, you may find yourself grape picking, observing grape crushing activities or plunging red wines under fermentation. Experience runs Tuesday – Thursday from 27 February – 21 March 2024.
Learn more about these Ridgemill Estate experiences and make sure to book ahead.
Visit the 2023 Queensland Winery of the Year
In 2023 family-owned and operated Ballandean Estate took out Queensland Winery of the Year at the 39th Queensland Wine Awards.
For those new to experiencing the Granite Belt’s offerings, Ballandean Estate is Queensland’s oldest operating winery where their wine story began in 1932. Here, you’ll quickly learn that they live and breathe wine, and a visit to their rustic cellar door will have you embraced by this Italian five-generation winemaking family.
Top up your glass at Jester Hill Wines, their own Michael Bourke taking out the 2023 Queensland Winemaker of the Year.
Walk or ATV in the Vineyard
Choose your adventure at Heritage Estate Wines. Race down vine rows in an ATV 6-seater or fly a drone with a viticulturist and learn how this winery is using cutting-edge drone and audio technology within their vineyard. Book ahead for these experiences, available as part of Heritage Estate’s POETs Progressive Dinners held every Friday night.
On Friday nights Heritage Estate’s POETs Dinners invite you to stroll with Hors D’Oeuves and glass in hand for an informative session in the vineyard. You’ll race down between the vines on an ATV before coming back to the main course. Finish with dessert in the barrel room and as you hear about the process of grape to glass.
The Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival
Mark your calendar for the first weekend of March 2024… the big weekend of the next Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival (held every 2 years). Roll up your pants and tuck up your skirts to jump in for the iconic highlight of the festival, the Grape Crush. Dance, jump and stomp around a barrel for some messy fun in the Public Grape Crush.