Queensland's Granite Belt Wine Region, despite being in a subtropical latitude is cool enough to produce high quality wines.
It comes as a surprise to most people that the Sunshine State should have a serious wine industry.
The popular image of Queensland is of a warm to hot climate with beaches, rainforest, holiday islands and the Great Barrier Reef, or else we think of the hot interior and cattle country.
Neither stereotype seems to include vineyards.
But in the Great Dividing Range a couple of hundred kilometres south west of Brisbane there is an area eminently suited to wine.
Because of the altitude, 800-1000 metres, the winters are quite cold. The summers are not as fiercely hot as the plains in the interior, nor do they bring the extreme humidity of coastal areas. Cool nights often experienced during vintage also contributes to wine quality. Spring frosts are the main viticultural hazard of this region as well as damaging hailstorms over the summer months.
It can be argued the area should be regarded as a cool climate rather than warm climate wine region.
The Granite Belt abuts the New South Wales border to the south, where the wine country continues in the New England Wine Region.
The main commercial centre is Stanthorpe. The area has had some vineyards for many years, however serious commercial production really only started in the 1980s.
There is a rapidly growing number of wineries in the region and just over half of them are growing alternative varieties. Much experimentation is still needed, but it seems that varieties which are traditionally associated with cooler areas will do well here.
Granitic soils are typically sandy and well drained, which is good for viticulture. Some enthusiasts claim that the mineral composition of the soil gives the wines a 'flinty' character.
See this story about Angelo Puglisi of Ballendean Estate and why he introduced the Fiano variety to his vineyard.
There are plenty of wineries and other attractions in this scenic area to justify a stay of several days. The Granite Belt offers hotels, motels, apartments, cottages, B&Bs and caravan and camping parks. There are restaurants and shops which proudly feature the local produce.
Rather than present you with a list of links to Granite Belt accommodation sites I suggest that you use Vinodiversity's Granite Belt accommodation finder.
That way you will get the latest info and will be able to make an informed decision about accommodation. The choice is yours.
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