24 Mar

Bumper grape harvest for Queensland’s Granite Belt has winemakers salivating

Grape growers and winemakers on Queensland’s Granite Belt say this year’s harvest will be the best in decades.

It is a dramatic turnaround on last year’s pickings when many crops were decimated by severe storms.

“Our fingers have just come uncrossed now,” Sam Costanzo of Golden Grove Estate said.

“We’ve got a fantastic crop out here.”

One upon a time, everyone drove either a Holden or a Ford. Have a look today — every make that is being made is out on the road. It’s the same with wine. People love the choice.

Sam Costanzo, grape grower

The Granite Belt, 200 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, is Queensland’s largest wine region and has become well-known for growing a range of alternative varieties such as mourvedre, malbec, marbera, sangiovese and tempranillo.

Winemaker Mike Hayes of Symphony Hill happily boasted that the area was the “world’s best wine region”.

“We’re probably the new kids on the block but our quality is through the roof,” he said.

“This is the best vintage that I’ve seen since 1986.”

The Granite Belt ranges in elevation from 700 metres to 1,200 metres above sea level and is frequently the coldest part of Queensland.

While the region made national headlines for snowfall last winter, Mr Hayes said growing conditions had been near perfect this season.

“It’s an ideal finish — no rain, warm days and cool nights,” he explained.

“What we look for is natural acidity, low pH and completely balanced fruit quality.”

Wine good enough for a prime minister

Golden Grove’s Nero D’Avola was chosen to represent the Queensland industry in a recent Wine Australia showcase to Federal Parliament.

“We’re just overwhelmed, we can’t believe that we have our wine on the Prime Minister’s table,” Mr Costanzo said.

While he still grows more traditional varieties like merlot or sauvingon blanc, it is the increasing demand for different varieties Mr Costanzo sees as the Granite Belt’s main competitive advantage.

“Once upon a time, everyone drove either a Holden or a Ford,” he said.

“Have a look today — every make that is being made is out on the road.

“It’s the same with wine. People love the choice.”

Source: Craig Zonca, ABC Rural http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-07/granite-belt-winemakers-get-set-for-the-best-vintage-in-decades/7227162