Media Resource: Queensland’s Granite Belt
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Stanthorpe & Granite Belt
Stanthorpe marks the centre of the region, surrounded by the villages of: Amiens, Applethorpe, Ballandean, Cottonvale, Dalveen, Glen Alpin, Mount Cotton, Severnlea, The Summit, Thulimbah, Wallangarra and Wyberba. The renowned Girraween National Park sits within the region – with its iconic giant balancing granite boulders.
Stanthorpe, the heart of the Granite Belt is located just 2.5 hours drive south-west of Brisbane, near the Queensland and New South Wales border. The Granite Belt sits high on a plateau of the Great Dividing Range, at Queensland’s coolest and highest altitudes. Its lowest point is 700m above sea level, and peaks at 1200m, making it one of Australia’s highest wine and fruit producing areas. The region is small but diverse, stretching just 60kms from north to south and roughly half as wide. Dotted along the New England highway, the town of Tenterfield sits immediately to the south.
Gold Coast……. 250km
Byron Bay…….. 260km
The Granite Belt Region is the same latitude as Byron Bay.
- Following the wine tasting trail across Granite Belt cellar doors.
- Hiking the tracks of Girraween National Park to its giant balancing granite boulders.
- Escaping to a cosy villa with vineyard views or bushland setting.
- Tasting local grown foodie delights: fresh apple pies, artisan cheeses, summer stone fruits and pick-your-own strawberries to name a few.
- Experiencing a steam train journey or country drive to Wallangarra’s historic railway station.
- Cycling the quiet countryside through vineyards and fruit groves to reach tourist spots along bike trails.
Four Distinct Seasons
Soaring altitude creates a region of four distinct seasons and a climate a world away from Queensland counterparts. Yes, it can even snow. It is the seasons that guide life in the Granite Belt with each changing season, so does the produce it reaps and rare experiences to be had. Come for the cool summer nights or the apple blossoms of springtime. Come for the red and gold of autumn trees and vineyards, or warm log-fires on crisp winter days – and on rare occasions you may even come to see snow. Summer nights on the Granite Belt mostly drop below 20 degrees.
Grapes & Winemaking
The Granite Belt is littered with dozens of wineries and cellar doors. Over the past decade Granite Belt wineries have made their mark at national and interstate wine shows and the region is now recognised as a small but unique producer of premium wines and one of the most exciting wine regions in Australia.
At an elevation of 1000 metres above sea level, wines grapes take longer to ripen on the Granite Belt, ensuring luscious, full flavours with great diversity between individual vineyards. The Granite Belt is one of the highest wine regions in the nation and almost 900 metres higher than Bordeaux in France or the Napa Valley in the USA. Vineyards on the Granite Belt are planted at altitude 650 to 1000m.
The unique terrior with its longer growing season and deep granite soils, combined with the innovative approach of the region’s winemakers and vignerons, produces wines of elegance and complexity. Cool climate wines as individual as a fingerprint.
Wine production levels are small, so on a national scale the Granite Belt produces less than 1% of total Australian wine production.
About Grape Harvest
Harvest time on the Granite Belt usually commences late January or early February for grower who have early ripening varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Verdelho. Late February and early March sees the aromatic whites, which as Chardonnay, Fiano and Voignier being harvested. Most reds like Merlot, Malbec and Shiraz are picked mid to late March, however some varieties such as Cabernet Savignon, Graciano and Montepulciano, can still be on the vines towards the end of April.
The Granite Belt’s Unique ‘Strangebird Wines’
The region has a growing reputation as one of Australia’s top producers of alternative variety wines – known here as Strange Birds. To be called an alternative, a variety must represent not more than 1% of the total bearing vines in Australia as defined by Wine Australia.
Enjoyed in Europe for generations, these alterative varieties are now emerging as Australian favourites due to their ability to match perfectly with our food preferences.
Pursue the StrangeBirds and discover wines you’ve never tasted. Wines that delight the senses and quench your desire for something new and exciting. StrangeBird wines are available for tasting at more than 24 cellar doors on the Granite Belt. View the Strangebird Alternative Wine Trail Map.
Early Years of Winemaking
Wine grapes were first planted on the Granite Belt in the 1860’s by the local Catholic parish priest, Father Jerone Davadi. Later many Italian families settled in the region and grew vines to make wine for their own consumption. The children of those first pioneers studied at home and overseas, bringing with them a new enthusiasm for lesser known grape varieties. The Puglisi family of Ballandean Estate are the longest operating winery in Queensland, having planted their wine grapes in the 1960’s and patriarch Angelo Puglisi is since widely heralded as the ‘Father of the Queensland Wine Industry’.
Apples, Strawberries & Stone Fruit!
The Granite Belt is a wonderful place to grow wine grapes, apples, strawberries and all kids of stone fruit and vegetables. There are more apples grown on the Granite Belt than anywhere else in Australia. Varieties grown on the Granite Belt: Royal Gala, Golden Del, Red Dels, Fuji, Pink Ladies, Grannys, Sundowners, Jazz and Jonathons.
Early Years of Multicultural Settlement
The Granite Belt has a history of warmly accepting newcomers. From the tin miners of the 1870’s to the German settlers who arrived with the coming of rail in 1888 and the Italians who came after the two world wars. The cool, dry climate has long been an attraction – the region was gazetted in 1905 by the Government as Queensland’s ‘health spa’ because it was thought to be extremely beneficial to those suffering from chest conditions. After WWI the region welcomed a host of war veterans recovering from mustard gas exposure. Many took up Soldier Settlements and poignant memories of French battlefields still resonate in the names of many hamlets and roads throughout the region – Pozieres, Amiens, Passchendaele to name a few.
Apple & Grape Festival, Stanthorpe – held every 2 years in March (next one 2020)
Grazing the Granite Belt, across the Granite Belt – held annually in mid-May
Snowflakes in Stanthorpe Festival, Stanthorpe – held annually in July, every 2 years (next one 2019)
Australian Small Winemakers Show, Stanthorpe – annually in October
For where to stay and what to experience visit
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