At the heart of the Granite Belt, Stanthorpe gives easy access to big sky panoramas, spectacular countryside dotted with precariously balancing prehistoric granite boulders and a generally cooler, temperate climate (there’s even an occasional winter snow-fall!) Settled by tin miners in the 1870s, nowadays, thanks to its unique microclimate and granitic soil, the region is nationally recognised for its winemaking and diversity of produce. Look out for apples, pears, berries, stone fruit, persimmons, figs, olives and a huge range of vegetables in season. Wander through Stanthorpe and surrounding villages and you’ll also discover award-winning artisan bread and meat pies, gourmet outlets, locally cured meats, hand-made jams and preserves, farmhouse cheeses, vinegar, chocolates, olive oil and of course the outstanding wines!
Grapes have been grown in the Granite Belt since the 1870s and the region is steadily developing a national reputation as a leading wine producer. You can taste whites including verdelho, semillon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc; and classic full flavoured reds including shiraz, merlot and cabernet sauvignon varieties. Those with a more adventurous palate should follow the Strange Bird alternative wine trail, which covers some of the more unusual varieties including viognier, mourvedre and tempranillo. If you’re more interested in the grain than the grape, there are microbreweries in Stanthorpe, where you can sample locally brewed beers on tap including Kolsch, Pilsner, Wheat Beer, India Pale Ale, Irish Red Ale, a Porter and a speciality beer each season. Cheers!
Fancy a bit of barefoot grape crushing or getting to know the locals in a friendly apple peeling competition? The biennial Apple and Grape Harvest Festival, held each even numbered year in early March, celebrates the harvest. It also includes a Food and Wine Fiesta and Markets in the Mountains. Alternate years, plan to rug up and build a snowman at the Snowflakes in Stanthorpe Festival. Several local tour companies run year-round tours of the winery trail and other attractions. Bookings can be made at the Visitor Information Centre. Tours are particularly popular during winter months, known as the “Brass Monkey Season”.