Our only real ‘planned event’ on our weekend away was a tour of some local wineries. We booked a twilight tour from 1-8pm with Filippos Tours. At $125 per person it wasn’t cheap, but when you take in to account that it finished with a three-course meal at a fantastic local restaurant, it was pretty great value. We had a lot of fun learning about the local wines and the Queensland wine industry – for example, did you know that more than 60 per cent of all wine consumed in this state is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? Guilty.
There were 28 people in our tour, which was a little on the large side. If you can stretch it, I would recommend organising a private tour to make things a little more personal. Otherwise you inevitably end up with a couple of loud-mouthed yobs and spend a lot of the tour wishing someone would tell them to shut up. Or maybe that was just me.
The tour description says it takes visitors to three local wineries and a ‘place of interest’, which it purported clients could choose from a list of local attractions including a lavender farm, cheese making place, a bramble patch for local berries or an apple farm. We were pretty excited at that prospect, but our tour operator decided we would visit a fourth winery instead, because it was across the road from the third place and obviously more convenient. Still a fabulous day though. The highlight for me was definitely Symphony Hill Wines – we were given a tour by the owner, before sitting in the barrel room with the winemaker for a brilliant tasting. The winery was only established in 1999 and had a lovely family-run feel, plus their sparkling and Sauvignon Blanc were incredible. Now I just have the find the right occasion to pop a bottle of it at home.
Also, fantastic fact – apparently every ‘real’ winery has its own resident pooch and there is even a book called Wine Dogs that features photos of all the different vineyard dogs around Australia. Symphony Hill had Merlot, a loveable border collie who stars in that book. I didn’t get a picture of Merlot though, because I was too busy patting him.
To finish the night we dined at Shiraz Restaurant and Wine Bar – a restaurant at Ballendean that exceeded all expectations. I couldn’t fault them on service, quality of food or atmosphere and they even had this guy across the road. Fruitasaurus.