Sunday, May 3, 2015

Queensland Vino

You've no doubt drank Australian wine before.  Yellow Tail ring a bell?  Fun [for you, not for me] fact: Yellow Tail is probably cheaper where you live than where it's made, here in Australia.

Those Australian wines you've enjoyed probably came from (in order of likelihood) South Australia, Western Australia or Victoria.  Surprisingly for all drinkers of Aussie wine, Queensland produces some, too!


Sirromet is a winery located not far outside of Brisbane, where we went to see Devo in concert.  We went back to do a tour of the place, see how it's produced and taste test some of the local swill.

No free sample of the $390 bottle, boo!
It's a really nice place out there, with different restaurants and space to chill.

"Sirromet" is an anagram for Terry Morris, the dude who "invented" Sirromet.  He created the place because he was told by a snooty Victorian (the snootiest of all Australians, bar none) that there is no good wine made in Queensland.

Unfortunately, I kind of side with the snooty guy.  I was not enamored with the Sirromet wines.  I was fully prepared to buy a bottle but after our taste test I was not willing to throw down $25+ for a bottle of wine that I really didn't care for.  But I might have spoken too soon...

Granite Belt Wine Country

The Granite Belt region is the only wine region in Queensland, and strangely supplies Sirromet with most of their grapes.  Why is Sirromet just outside Brisbane when most of their grapes are grown hours away?  I do not know.

In November 2014 President Obama and various other world leaders descended upon our humble little city and took over everything for the G20 summit.  For a year in advance we were warned, "The city will be on lock down!  Evacuate!  FLEE!"  Which is exactly what we did.

That Friday was a public holiday, so like 98% of Brisbane residents we got the hell out of Dodge that weekend.  The tourism industries in nearby places outside of Brisbane did a brisk business that weekend!  In the weeks leading up to the summit the authorities were getting worried that Brisbane would look like a ghost town so reneged on their previous pleas for people to leave the city, and started begging people to stay in town.  With a draconian mix of road closures, security measures (all garbage cans were removed at train stations, lest terrorists try to hide bombs in them) and fighter jets patrolling the skies we did the wise thing and GTFO of town.

On our bonus Friday off work we hiked up the bare, curved mountain at Bald Rock National Park:

This is technically in New South Wales, but it was literally minutes from where we were staying in Queensland.  Look at how huge these boulders are compared to me!

We made a brief stop at Girraween National Park, back in Queensland, but after a half day of hiking uphill in the hot sun (remember, November is almost summer) we were not about to go too far into the depths of the national park:

Particularly because it had just seen some serious bush fires.

That night we dined at the must do restaurant in the city of Stanthorpe, QLD, Anna's:

I didn't get any pictures of the food, unfortunately, because I was too busy giving myself beetus to pick up my camera.  Whenever I told people I would be spending my G20 long weekend in the Granite Belt region they would immediately say, "You have to eat at Anna's!" and they were not wrong.  On Friday and Saturday nights Anna's does an Italian buffet.  Lasagna, pasta, stuffed shells, all sorts of desserts (that truth be told I didn't make it to).  It's surprisingly affordable, too.  Seriously, if you go anywhere near Stanthrope you HAVE to eat at Anna's!  It was awesome.

The next day, after a very long, carb-induced sleep coma, we had booked a full day wine tasting tour.

We wanted to do a tour because neither of us wanted to stay sober enough to drive between vineyards.  Leave the designated driving to the experts, I say!

We went around to lots of different wineries, sampling the local wares.  Holy man, did we do a lot of wine drinking that day!

But not as much drinking as the groups of cackling, drunken women who were on the tour with us.  Those ladies bought bottles upon bottles of wine, while we restrained ourselves to a bottle or two that we particularly liked.

One fun thing about the winery tour is that many, if not most, of them have dogs.

This little feller only has 3 legs but no worries, he's happy as a clam

These little mutts see strangers every single day, so they're super friendly and always down for a good petting.  They were the icing on the cake of a wine soaked day!

Since we were staying at a vineyard outside of town, thankfully we had the foresight to stock up on foodstuffs the day before.  Otherwise we would have been stuck, drunk, with no way of getting grill-ables from civilization!

We ate the hugest steaks ever, and had another early night of drunken, drunken sleep after watching the sun go down over the grapevines.

I liked the Granite Belt wine much more than the Sirromet stuff, which doesn't make any sense because most of the Sirromet grapes are grown in the same place.  I guess I just need to drink more vino before making a final decision!