QLD 4x4 Club Members Stanthorpe Winery Tour

With 2019 drawing to a close, the club had had a successful year with the Corroboree in Blackbutt and of course our members wanted to continue supporting communities and decided that a trip to Stanthorpe was in order. It didn't take long before Ben had spoken with his Mum and she agreed that we could stay at her place. Being the organiser she is we had a date, venue and bus tour planned all before you could say 'Here comes Santa Claus..." 

The itinerary agreed upon was:

8:30am Depart Accommodation
9:00am Ballandean Estate Wines
10.30am Golden Grove Estate
12:00pm Jester Hill Winery
1:00pm Granite Belt Brewery - lunch
2.30pm Castle Glen Winery
4:00pm Stanthorpe Cheese
4:30pm Depart for Accommodation

Ben & Laura were the first to arrive at camp on Thursday and most made their way up the range during Friday. Craig, Jacquie, Harli, Paul & Angela overshot the mark and had to turn around to enter via the gate with a microwave for a letter box. Pretty much everyone else was set up and sitting around the camp fire. Yep a camp fire, it has been so long since club members have been able to enjoy the ol' 'Hippy TV'. About 10 minutes behind them were Julie and Dave, then came Simon and Emily and bringing up the rear to write the weekends trip reports were Kim and Jeff. There were more cars due Saturday morning.

 QLD 4x4 Club Camp Fire Stanthorpe Weekend Camping & Wine Tour


 As per our itinerary everyone was ready to leave by 8:30am. Everyone was excited and checking out the view with no real idea where we were headed. Our first stop was the Ballandean Estate Wines. The Puglisi family have produced wines in the Granite Belt area since 1932.

 QLD 4x4 Club at the Ballandean Wine Estate Stanthorpe


Harli from the QLD 4x4 Club's thoughts on Ballandean winery was that it was “pretty nice”, he is not really a wine drinker [you will normally find him with a can of Jim Beam or even a glass of Sake] but liked and purchased the White Pearl. 


Enjoying a wine at Ballandean Estate Wineries


"The Ballandean winery were so friendly, very helpful with what the wines go best with”... Kathleen from the Bayside Offroaders 4x4 Club who joined as a visitor, she bought a lovely wine & purchased the fine tawny port.

 After wines were purchased we all headed to the bus for our short trip to the next winery the Golden Grove Estate. The entrance caught my eye with some lovely little table and chairs as well as some local artwork ... very local - it was a grape vine. Kim from the Queensland 4x4 Club found "Grace from Golden Grove Estate... Extremely informative, have been winemakers for 75years, past on from family to family from their Italian heritage."


Golden Grove Estate Stanthorpe


The ladies at Golden Grove Estate provided us with some cheese & crackers to go with our wine tasting and provided history and more information about wine making in the Granite Belt. Did you know that the elements have a large impact on the production of the grapes and flavour of wines? Grace told us about how a local fire can effect the grapes so that the wine can taste like the bottom of an ashtray (well not quite her words).


QLD 4x4 Club at Golden Grove Estate


John from the Queensland 4x4 Club “Liked the last 3 reds, as they got better and better, towards the end” [and he should know as he taste tested all wines].

As we had a little time up our sleeves we headed to the Jam Works for a cuppa and to purchase some jams. The impromptu visit to the Jam Factory proved to be a favourite with most of the ladies and even the men loved the coffee, cakes and scones. Chris said "I was excited as I just love country made jams and relishes. After tasting I made my well considered selections and was able to stock up for the next six months. It is a must stop when you travel to or through Stanthorpe."

Winery #3 before lunch was Jester Hill Wines. While others sampled some wines I (Jacquie) headed out to take some photos of the grape vines. While some of us explored or tasted some wines others played games like chess inside or bocce outside.


Jester Hill grape vines

QLD 4x4 Club playing Chess at Jester Hills


Our President "loved patting the winery dogs whilst waiting for the others to finish". By lunchtime on the bus, all we could hear were the jiggling of wine bottles on the way to the brewery. Who needs to stock up on toilet paper, we have wine.

As the tummy's rumbled Simon's wishes came true, we were off to the brewery. I must say Simon was pretty patient [if you could call it that], as he is not a wine drinker the morning had been pretty boring for him. As the bus parked Simon got up to make an announcement, "ah isn't that nice we thought" [Simon being a new member to the club] ... tricked you ... "nothing stands between a man and his beer" he said as he ran off the bus and was the first at the bar.


Granite Belt Brewery


The Granite Belt Brewery were a hidden gem on this wine tour. The team are so organised. We had pre-ordered out meals after seating at our 2 tables for 40 we were advised our meals would be out shortly and our drink orders were taken. The meals were very tasty and the deserts were yum. Many of us didn't think there would be any room left for the next few stops [we managed].


Granite Belt Brewery


After the brewery we headed to the Castle Glen Winery. Now if you haven't tasted one of their liqueurs you have missed out! For Jacquie this was her 'kid in a candy store moment' and thanks to Ben she was introduced to Chocolate Musk Stick & Lemoncello Creme liqueurs. "I couldn't decide so bought both."  Dare we say that there was more taste testing here than any of the other wineries? Purchases made, we decided it was time for a group photo ... but where are our trip leaders, Ben and Laura?

 Stanthorpe Group Shot



Andy from Bayside Offroaders “Just supporting the local community”


Andys Haul of wines at Stanthorpe 

After a big day of wine, liqueur and beer tasting everyone was pretty mellow. The fire (yes the 2nd for the year) was lit and we all sat aroud on what was becoming a cooler, windy Saturday night. Awnings were packed away to prevent any damage or noises throught the night. The trusty hammers came out and extra guide ropes were added to the gazebos. We were also graced with the site of the International Space Station making it's way across the sky.

For those who had a little time to spare on Sunday they headed out to an apple orchard and strawberry farm. By the looks they had a great haul and managed to fit in a coffee with fresh scones.


Stanthorpe - Apples & Strawberries


And finally a word from our host for the weekend "What a great pleasure it was for Phillip and I to host a wonderful group of 4x4 club members to our lovely town. My son and his wife (Ben and Laura) had an idea to organise a weekend trip o Stanthorpe to help our tourism industry. They hired a bus from Crisps Coaches." Well Carol and Phillip the Queensland 4x4 Club and Bayside Offroaders 4x4 Club would like to Thank you for our wonderful hospitality and opening up your home to us.


Images from Club Members, Laura Clark, Kim Hilderbrandt, Glenn Young and Jacquie Colhoun