Venture In to Country: South Burnett

For wine lovers, Queensland’s Vine and Shine Trail has just been launched, a self-guided trail leading to more than 70 wineries and cellar doors across Queensland.

Though Queensland wine dates back 160 years, our venture in to country shows us that more recently it’s emerging wine varietals that have put Queensland’s wine scene on the map.

Tasting wines from different regions is a great experience, but there’s no comparison to making the journey to the vineyard cellar door, getting the opportunity to chat to winemakers, discovering the unique charm of our sun-kissed country and enjoying the flavours of the Sunshine State.

The first step on our Queensland wine adventure is to consult the Vine and Shine Trail website.

Having previously visited many wineries in Brisbane and the Gold Coast Hinterland, we decide to take an adventure further north to the South Burnett, one of six regions highlighted on the site.

Of these six, two regions have received Australian Geographical Indications (GIs): South Burnett the first in 2000, followed by the Granite Belt in 2002, putting them both in the ‘must visit’ category.

South Burnett is our closest and largest internationally recognised wine region, two hours’ drive from Noosa, or three hours from Brisbane. It’s also exciting because of its emphasis on emerging wine varieties suited to our climate, terroir and lifestyle.

We decide on a two-day adventure, the first day taking in some food experiences on the way north to Gympie where we will stop overnight, the second day travelling the hour west to South Burnett before returning home. We decide to visit three wineries clustered together in the northern section of South Burnett. It’s an easy one-hour drive from our overnight stay in Gympie through well-maintained undulating farmland to arrive at our first winery, Clovely Estate’s cellar door.

Clovely Estate

Clovely Estate is one of our most recognised wineries, and the largest wine acreage in Qld. The estate also grows olives, for sale at the cellar door. Diversifying from its traditional dairy and cattle farm roots, grapes were first planted here in 1996 – 1997 on land that the Heading family had owned for more than 100 years.

Nick Pesudovs, who has been Clovely Estate’s winemaker since 2002, tells us that Clovely Estate’s soil and terroir are perfect for growing Mediterranean grape varietals, shown in 2014 when the estate was awarded Best Semillon in Australia by Winestate Magazine.

Besides many excellent well-known varietals such as Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Cabernet sauvignon, Shiraz and Grenache, Clovely Estate also produces emerging varietals that really suit our lifestyle, such as Sangiovese (which would pair well with Italian food), Barbera (excellent to accompany an antipasto platter) and the earthy Saperavi, from the Black Sea region, the oldest grape variety on earth.

Moffatdale Ridge Winery

Moffatdale Ridge Winery, dubbed ‘Queensland’s friendliest winery’ sits on a ridge overlooking a 340-acre farm, the first planting of the 11 acres of vineyards taking place in 1997. Owners Jason and Susan Kinsella and their children have a long family association with the region, dating back four generations.

One of the features of the winery is the D’Vine Restaurant where you can dine on local produce overlooking waterways and undulating hills. Premium steak, Queensland barramundi and succulent prawns are on offer as well as antipasto platters.

Since 2004, Moffatdale Ridge Winery has produced Verdelho, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Fiano and Nero Diablo. They have won world awards for their Verdelho including Best New World White at the Hong Kong International Wine Show. Be sure to try their excellent liqueurs as well.

Nuova Scuola Wines (at Barambah Cellar Door)

Barambah Cellar Door gives wine enthusiasts the chance to taste wine from three South Burnett vineyards: Nuova Scuola Wines, Lightning Tree Wines, and Hillsdale Estate.

Manning Barambah Cellar Door are winemakers Sara Boyce and Stefano Radici of Nuova Scuola Wines, who have both been making wine internationally for 16 years.

The couple’s approach to growing ‘old world varieties from a new world terroir’ is exciting and their wine is widely acclaimed for its high quality. Their meticulously tended vineyards produce a range of emerging varietals including Viognier with a bouquet of stony nectarine, and Tempranillo with robust spicy licoricey and clove notes as well as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. Ring ahead to order an antipasto platter to graze on with your tasting.

Queensland wine is unique, reflecting the land and climate of Queensland. Emerging varieties carry our wine future, highly suited to our growing conditions and coping well with climate change.

“Queensland’s wineries, winemakers and viticulturists are redefining vineyards and varieties to meet our state’s unique climate conditions, helping us become known internationally for our emerging varieties and ‘vines of the future’,” says Mike Hayes (pictured below), Immediate Past President of the Queensland Wine Industry Association.

There’s no better way to support our wine industry than to visit our wine regions, meet the makers, taste and buy ‘emerging’ wine varieties made by Queensland growers to suit our food and lifestyle.  So, visit the Vine and Shine Trail website and start planning your next trip.

NOTE: If you wish to embark on a longer wine adventure, cabins are scattered throughout the region, including some listed on winery websites.