Golden boy among nation's best winemakers
HE'S no stranger to accolades but one of the Granite Belt's premier winemakers has now found his name mentioned alongside the nation's best.
Practice makes perfect and for as long as Golden Grove Estate's Ray Costanzo can remember, he's been in and around the wine industry.
"I'm third generation winemaker. Sam (Costanzo) was here before me and before that, his father. I'm the first university trained. They learnt from books and dad did a few tafe courses. Trial and error basically," Ray said.
"There's photos of me getting around here in the winery at five or six years old. Seriously, in the wine, it was around 17 when I really started. It's all I ever knew.
"I kind of had blinkers on. If somebody said to me today what do you think you'd be... I've got no clue. I never even thought about it and I just had this one focus which was being a winemaker."
It's paid off for Ray - with him last week announced as a finalist in Australia's Young Gun of Wine Awards.
"It was something I've seen for a while but I never entered because I always thought I was too old.
"I think they go on basically young as being young at heart - new age winemakers that are doing something completely different and pushing the boundaries.
"I entered with a pinch of salt... half way through I've gone 'why'd I bother?'.
"But the wines I had to enter, because this goes on pure wine-making ability.
"I knew I had some good wines and in the back of my mind I thought 'oh I've got a chance' but in the back of it I'm going 'I'm a long way off', " Ray said.
Despite his humble sentiment, Ray's name is still in the mix after the number's were whittled down from 150 to 50.
From there it goes to a top 12.
Ray will travel to Melbourne to partake in public and trade tastings in early May where he'll be further judged.
"To find out that I was the first from Queensland to get accepted in to the top 50 was pretty exciting. The first ever.
"At the end of the day I'm as good a chance as anybody.
"My wine will speak for me," Ray said.
"It's not just for me. I'm flying the Granite Belt flag - first and foremost," he said.