Queensland Wine Regions
Discover the wine regions of Queensland with James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia
The Queensland wine industry was growing faster – in terms of the numbers of producers – as at 2005 than any other state, albeit from a low base. In 2001 there were 39 wineries; by the end of 2004 there were 143. The annual crush has risen from 500 tonnes in 1998 to over 5000 tonnes in 2005.
Nor has the spread been confined to the two formally recognised regions, the Granite Belt and the South Burnett, with 48 and 16 producers respectively. In the Queensland Wine Industry Strategy released in December 2004 by the Minister for Wine (yes, there is such a person) six other regions (unofficial) were identified. They were Darling Downs (12 wineries), Gold Coast and Hinterland (15), Central Queensland/North Burnett (11), Sunshine Coast and Hinterland (15), Brisbane and Scenic Rim (10), D’Aguilar Ranges (five), and Western Downs including Maranoa (four). However, the major part of the total 1300 hectares of vineyards falls within the Granite Belt (400 hectares), South Burnett (300 hectares) and Darling Downs (100 hectares).
In the foreseeable future, only the Darling Downs would seem likely to be able to pass the threshold requirement – at least five separate vineyards producing at least 500 tonnes of grapes a year – for registration as a new Geographic Indication. It also happens to be Queensland’s next logical area in which to grow grapes on a commercial scale (after the Granite Belt and South Burnett).
As in so many parts of Australia, there were significant wine grape and table grape plantings in Queensland by the middle of the nineteenth century; table grape production has continued as a profitable industry through to the present time, but wine grapes withered on the economic vine as first Federation (and the removal of tariffs) and then the First World War shifted the dynamics.
Whether the rate of growth in the first half of this decade can be maintained to 2010 is very doubtful; indeed, the medium-term question may be whether the present level of activity can be sustained. A tropical climate, with summer the wet season, winter the dry season, presents formidable challenges for viticulture. The Granite Belt is clearly the best region in Queensland, and can produce wines of international standard; South Burnett can do so in some vintages by some growers. The list doesn’t necessarily stop there, but lifestyle tourism will be the key to the wine industry’s survival and growth.