Granite Belt

Queensland

About

The Granite Belt is Queensland’s premium wine-producing region, consistently producing standout, medium-bodied and elegant wines.

Between the steady ascent of the Great Dividing Range, the hillsides making up the Granite Belt are lined with cool-climate vineyards, orchards and olive trees. The relatively young wine region is responsible for some stellar drops with huge potential. The vineyards surrounding Stanthorpe are among the highest in Australia and the granite territory is said to be similar to the coarse sandy soils of southern Burgundy in France. A new generation of winemakers is guiding the burgeoning Granite Belt wine industry into a new era, which includes popular styles of shiraz, viognier and chardonnay. It’s also embracing alternative varieties, such as gewurztraminer, mourvedre and petit verdot.

In just a three-hour drive from Brisbane, the Sunshine State’s hinterland features rugged, yet serene beauty. A visit to the Granite Belt isn’t complete without visiting the photogenic Girraween National Park, with the option to climb The Pyramid, Castle Rock or observe the granite Eye of the Needle outcrop. Enjoy the tranquillity of native bushland as you unwind in the great outdoors and gaze at the stars, or perhaps unpack your picnic basket full of local cheese, cured meats and fruits. 


James Halliday on the Granite Belt


In 1965 the first wine grapes were planted in the Granite Belt: one hectare of shiraz. It was an appropriate choice because this variety outshone all others (with the possible exception of semillon) over the next 25 years. It was not long before others followed suit. Toowoomba solicitor John Robinson and wife Heather established Robinsons Family Vineyards in 1969, while the following year third-generation farmer Angelo Puglisi commenced what was initially called Sundown Valley Vineyards but is now called Ballandean Estate.

The Granite Belt is an interesting region. It owes much to the late Sydney-based wine consultant John Stanford, who became involved in the early 1970s, and was something of a Messiah for its potential. Angelo Puglisi, too, gained recognition for the district when he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1977 to study European winemaking techniques (an honour also accorded to his then winemaker, Rodney Hooper, a decade later).

But the Granite Belt’s prosperity hinges to a large degree on the parochial Queensland market and on the steady flow of tourists passing up and down the New England Highway. For although many of the local vignerons would have it otherwise, the Granite Belt is no more a ‘natural’ grapegrowing region than is the Hunter Valley.

The principal drawbacks are spring frosts and vintage-time rainfall. True, these do not occur every year, and appropriate site selection can significantly reduce the risk of frost. But then there is the vexed question of the climate, and how one really assesses a high-altitude region with a continental climate. Finally, there are the variable soils, some far too sandy and granitic, others much better suited to viticulture – a distinction ignored in some of the plantings made in the 1970s.

Facts

Wineries 56
Tasting Notes 1734

Geographic

Latitude 28°40’S
Altitude 810 m
Heat Degree Days 1602
Growing Season Rainfall 519 mm
Mean January Temp 20.6°C
Harvest End February to mid April