There’s an exciting wine offering in the Sunshine State. While most regions have one or two heroes, the Granite Belt is championing an exotic mix of varieties to explore via its Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail. Block out a weekend or day to discover its spoils, and we promise you won’t be disappointed. Start planning your adventure with the top cellar doors ahead.
Hidden Creek Winery, Cafe and Vineyard
The regions nearby the Mediterranean Sea inspire Hidden Creek’s range (think Rioja in Spain and the Rhone Valley in France), which makes sense given Queensland’s laidback coastal vibe. In keeping with that theme, here you can dine and drink al fresco under leafy trees, with a glass of your favourite wine, a picnic basket, and even your well-behaved pup in tow. Alternatively, when you want to enjoy the view but escape the weather, head to the cafe, where floor-to-ceiling glass takes in the vineyard and lake, and a menu of locally sourced, organic and homegrown ingredients waits. The Hidden Creek cellar door is a converted church featuring silky oak and ornate leadlights, and you can taste as many wines as you’d like with the purchase of any bottle.
Perfect for: experiencing some of the best winery hospitality in Queensland. Open Friday and Monday from 11am to 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
On pour: chardonnay, verdelho, viognier, barbera, tempranillo, merlot, and shiraz.
hiddencreek.com.au | 2271 Eukey Road, Ballandean | 07 4684 1383
There’s not enough room on a wine bottle for all of the awards Sirromet wins year in and year out (with the current tally sitting at 910). It’s constantly in the news for its swag of wine-show successes, suggesting it’s one Queensland winery you shouldn’t miss from your list. Terry Morris is the local entrepreneur who started Sirromet, with his goal to prove the quality of the state’s wine not only to the rest of Australia but also the globe. The winery reflects that effort and is a world-class facility offering wine tastings and behind-the-scenes tours, a fine dining restaurant (as well as more casual options), indulgent accommodation, Supa golf and a calendar of events that includes the famous ‘A Day on the Green’ concert series. Adding to its long list of accolades, Sirromet is also the first Queensland cellar door to appear among the Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia. While Sirromet wines come from Granite Belt vines, the cellar door is located around a half-hour drive from central Brisbane, making it a convenient winery outing close to the city.
Perfect for: an award-winning cellar door nearby Brisbane, offering a range of excellent tasting experiences, winery tours, and food and wine packages. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
On pour: chardonnay, pinot gris, verdelho, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz viognier, merlot, late harvest pinot gris, and rosé.
sirromet.com | 850 Mount Cotton Road, Mount Cotton | 07 3206 2999
Summit Estate Wines
If you prefer your winery experiences with plenty of character, this former fruit packing shed come tasting space is a must-visit. Rustic and spacious, the cellar door features two wood-burning stoves to warm you in cold weather (the elevated plains of Stanthorpe in the Granite Belt can get extremely chilly), beanbags to kick back on, and big picture windows to gaze out to the vines. As well as the main bar inside the cellar door, there’s a more intimate tasting space called La Cave, which seats 22 and houses Summit’s back-vintage wines. And when the weather is warm, you can sample under cover of the terrace, enjoying the breeze and vineyard views.
Perfect for: a tailored tasting in a charming space. Open Friday and Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday and Monday from 10am to 2pm during summer. Open Thursday to Monday from 10am to 4pm during winter.
On pour: sparkling marsanne, sparkling and still tempranillo, sparkling and still pinot noir, sparkling muscat, chardonnay, fiano, vermentino, viognier, verdelho, syrah, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon.
summitestate.com.au | 291 Granite Belt Drive, Thulimbah | 07 4683 2011
Started by Spanish couple Tom and Cath Jiminez in 1998, these founders set the vision for Ridgemill to offer more diversity than most Australian wineries. In fact, it’s here that the Granite Belt’s famous Strange Bird Wine Trail celebrating alternative varieties (such as Spain’s tempranillo, which has found popularity on our shores) often begins. Today, Martin Cooper runs Ridgemill in collaboration with winemaker Peter McGlashan, and the mix of award-winning wines includes all the Australian favourites as well as an ever-expanding collection of emerging varieties. In addition to top-notch wines and a range of ways to taste them – from barrel-room experiences to back-vintage verticals – you’ll find vineyard accommodation to make a weekend of it and an expansive property to explore. Sample the range, and then clink glasses over a picnic or cheese platter while the sun sinks below the horizon of this spectacular estate.
Perfect for: a stop on the Strange Bird Wine Trail, or a place to base yourself for a weekend stay in the Granite Belt. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
On pour: chardonnay, riesling, pinot gris, verdelho, tempranillo, shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and saperavi.
ridgemillestate.com | 218 Donges Road, Broadwater | 07 4683 5211
Heritage Estate Wines
This Halliday five-star rated and former ‘ten dark horses’ winery is achieving wonderful wines from its diverse vineyards across the Granite Belt. With its Cottonvale site at nearly 1000 metres elevation able to produce supremely elegant whites, and its Ballandean vineyard boasting some of the oldest vines in the region to create rich, complex reds, Heritage Estate is covering the spectrum of styles. The winery also has two Granite Belt cellar doors to choose from: one is in a beautiful old brick cold store in Cottonvale, and the other is in a lovingly restored, 100-year-old church at Thulimbah. The latter is ideal for those who want to taste the range and have a light lunch, while the former is your best bet if you want to enjoy some live music alongside the wines. If you can't make it out to Granite Belt for the full touring experience, there are also two other locations in stunning Tamborine Mountain, which is a scenic 45-minute drive from the Gold Coast. Whichever way you go, you’ll find all locations offer friendly, informative tastings of this excellent label.
Perfect for: sampling a top-notch selection of wines in a range of character-filled locations. Open daily from 10am to 4pm.
On pour: shiraz, petit blanc, pinot gris, chardonnay, shiraz-mourvedre-grenache blend, verdehlo, savignin, marsanne, and tempranillo.
heritagewines.com.au | The Winery, 747 Granite Belt Drive, Cottonvale and The Church, New England Highway, Thulimbah | 07 4685 2197
Related article: Get to know Granite Belt