FANCY A SIP? Andy and Leanne Williams from Hidden Creek.
FANCY A SIP? Andy and Leanne Williams from Hidden Creek. Suzanne Smith

Wine champions busting through industry restraints

A SELECTION of the region's most talented winemakers have put their product in the spotlight in an ongoing push to increase the profile of Queensland wines.

While the Granite Belt is home to some of the best wines and winemakers in the country, the Sunshine State is often overlooked as a serious contender in the industry.

But last week some of the region's best took their product to Parliament House, showcasing just how much the Stanthorpe area has to offer.

The 'Strangebird' Cocktails and Canapes Tasting at Brisbane's River Deck featured six prominent wineries from the region.

These winemakers were Pyramids Road Wines, Jester Hill Wines, Ridgemill Estate, Casley Mount Hutton Winery, Hidden Creek Winery and Girraween Estate.

For Michael Bourke of Glen Aplin's Jester Hills Wines, the tasting was about spreading the word about the Granite Belt's incredible products.

"Queensland wine growers do not have the reputation they deserve. The quality here is as good as anywhere in Australia,” he said.

"The cold climate in the Granite Belt makes for great alternative varieties which suit our climate.”

Mr Bourke said the tasting provided the opportunity for much-needed exposure.

"Progress for the Queensland wine regions has been happening slowly but not quick enough for people in the industry, events like this expose people to the great wine we have on offer,” he said.

Martin Cooper of Ridgemill Wines said while Brisbane enthusiasts were in 'the know' the rest of Australia had a long way to go.

"We were at a Melbourne tasting event and only two people out of the 110 knew Queensland produced wine,” he said.

Mr Cooper said while the reactions he gets from people at these events were overwhelmingly positive, there was a struggle to get the product into mouths.

"Our wineries are minuscule compared to the overall market. We need to keep kicking above our weight. The Granite Belt needs to keep turning up,” he said.

Steve Messiter of Girraween Estate said his winery, like many others, was geared towards boutique wine bars and restaurants.

"Our wines tend to pop up in the restaurants that have the bigger wine lists, places who go budget generally will not stock us,” he said.

"We cannot compete against a budget sauv blanc produced in New Zealand.”

Mr Messiter said events like the tasting were exactly what was needed to keep Queensland wineries progressing.