Stanthorpe serves fabulous food, wine and country charm
When fantasising about a holiday spent cradling a world-class boutique wine in front of a roaring wood fire, Queensland may not be the first place to come to mind.
But Stanthorpe is gaining a well-earned reputation not only for producing some of the best wines in the country, but also around the world.
Coupled with its cool climate and spectacular foodie options, Stanthorpe knows how to turn it on for its visitors.
The relaxed country charm of a small community is combined with an eating and drinking experience that feels more like a European city than a rural Queensland community.
Though the Granite Belt region is lined with wineries, there is something intriguingly unique about each.
From Mick and Ann Bourke, who bought Jester Hill Wines on a whim while visiting Stanthorpe on the back of a motorbike, to Ballandean Estate's Puglisi family, who are pioneers of the industry and have produced wine for close to 90 years, each place has its own unique journey, which adds to not only the vast flavours of their products but also to the visitor's experience.
Those who aren't so keen on wines are not forgotten in Stanthorpe, with the number of breweries growing.
Jester Hill Wines is looking to add beer to its offering and places such as Granite Belt Brewery have mastered their craft. The latter offers a selection of beers made in an on-site micro brewery.
The team has paired some of its best tipples with dishes such as slow-cooked brisket and stuffed capsicum, so all that needs to be done is for someone to walk in, order a famous Brewer's Platter and indulge.
After its wines, the next thing Stanthorpe is known for could very well be its apple pie.
From the road, there isn't much that appears special about the big tin shed with the word "Sutton's” scrawled across it, but just one step inside and you realise there is something incredible about this seemingly unsuspecting place.
The rustic country café's walls are lined with its own ciders, juices, vinegars, syrups, chutneys and all things crafted from the farm's produce. The products were added to the orchard's operation after owners Ros and David Sutton identified a need to adapt their business to keep it viable.
After trading in their prawn trawler back in the 1990s, the Suttons threw themselves into the unknown world of apple farming and were soon bottling myriad apple-based products to make sure nothing from their orchard went to waste.
Even the apple pulp is used to fill the bellies of lucky cattle belonging to local farmers.
This need to adapt was also the moment that gave rise to the real magic of the operation and the reason they attract visitors from across the world - their apple pie.
Perfectly coupled with a unique spiced ice-cream, this dessert is a meal on its own and the reason that tin shed on the side of the highway is always bustling with visitors.
Sutton's Juice Factory Cidery and Cafe is one place to visit on an empty stomach - or at least clear out your boot space and take home a whole one of these mammoth beauties for a tidy $65.
People such as the Suttons are part of the charm of a visit to the Granite Belt.
The innovation seen in the community is a big part of its success and visitors can't drive far without coming across another small business doing their thing in their way.
There are countless boutique stores offering wares including handmade soaps and beauty products, jams, stunning art and craft products, and all finessed and handcrafted with passion.
The cold air - and occasional snowfall - makes Stanthorpe a particularly beautiful place to visit in the colder months. The trees lining the streets turn a stunning red as the temperature drops and it is the perfect time to enjoy a glass of your favourite Granite Belt wine by the heat of a wood fire.
Granite Gardens cottages feature wood fires in their beautiful cabins, the perfect place to retreat after a day of wine tastings and delicious food.
Hosts Chris and Lynne go above and beyond for their guests, from prepared fires to a welcome basket filled with a stunning mixture of local cheese, jams, bacon, eggs and other delicious goodies.
These little touches of pampered luxury combined with the beauty of a country setting make it an ideal place for romantic getaway, girls' wine-filled weekend or even a destination wedding.
Whatever the reason you find to go to Stanthorpe, once you are there you won't struggle to find a reason to visit again.
Stroll along Quart Pot Creek.
See street art murals in Stanthorpe CBD.
Visit the Stanthorpe Piazza, Maryland St.
Twisted Gum Winery tour and bush walk with Emma Walton.
Lunch at the Queensland College of Wine and Tourism.
Dinner at new St Jude's restaurant and Sirromet cellar door, Ballandean.
The writer was a guest of Southern Queensland Country Tourism.