Happy New Year! It is February already. Gosh.
We spent 10 days staying with family in Stanthorpe over the Christmas period. We lost track of the days, visiting wineries, eating stone fruit, fishing, devouring cheese platters while drinking wine, watching the night sky while drinking wine, wining and dining and generally loving it. It was the festive season after all. In a big move for my husband he started drinking wine (instead of beer). I had 10 years of not visiting wineries together to make up for. There are so many wineries in the Granite Belt. We visited about three each day and still didn’t get to them all.
I highly recommend Stanthorpe as a location for Christmas celebrations. During our stay it was a pleasant 25 degrees and mostly sunny with low humidity. Just perfect. The locals are genuinely friendly and the town is not over crowded with tourists. Most of the wineries and tourist attractions are open on the public holidays too. Plus it is only 2.5 hours drive from Brisbane.
The granite belt region is blessed with a year round harvest of produce. In summer, stone fruit, berries and cherries are a plenty. My favourite places to stock up on local stuff; Vincenzos at the big apple in Thulimbah, The Summit Fruit (Sam’s Fruit Shop) at The Summit and also the highway stalls down in Glen Aplin. There are plenty of other roadside stalls and farm gates around to pick from.
The Summit Fruit is on Granite Belt Drive at The Summit, just off the main highway. It stocks locally grown produce, fresh eggs and other local products. You can buy seasonal fruit by the box. I was in there on Christmas Eve, getting last minute supplies, and there was a steady stream of customers popping in to say Merry Christmas to the owner Sam. It’s a cute little shop.
The towns and settlements on the way into Stanthorpe (Dalveen, Thulimbah, The Summit, Applethorpe, Amien) are worth taking the time to explore. Check it out on google maps. For a short period, the NSW/QLD border follows the highway. Take a turn off the main highway and you can get right amongst the orchards, farms and wineries.
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Past Stanthorpe, heading down towards Ballandean, we ditched the tourist map and drove around on a whim. There are so many quaint country roads with wineries right up the end. Often in places you least expect. Most roads eventually loop back around to the highway and the wineries are clearly signed.
We visited Pyramids Road winery, which is on the way out to Girraween National Park. It is a 2 hectare vineyard with a small scale winery that hand crafts wine on the premises. We loved all the wines we tried and left with a few bottles. For $4 I bought a bag of Santa Rosa plums. Picked fresh off a big old tree on the property that had been left to nature and hardly pruned or maintained for years. It had produced a bumper crop of plums. Dripping off the tree apparently.
I ate a heap of plums in a row and popped a few in my handbag for later. They ended up juicy squishy balls because I forgot about them. But I was on holidays so I didn’t care too much about that sort of thing.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Years. It has been a very busy few months for me. Lots of change and progress. My passion for knowing where my food comes from has not dwindled and 2012 is set to be a brilliant year for STC.