Stanthorpe winery tour.

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.

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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. IMG_1757 IMG_1759 20130804-162428.jpgThe 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.IMG_1765

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Stanthorpe weekend.

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Winter weekends away are up there with my favourite things to do. My family has had a ‘Christmas in July’ tradition for the past couple of years, where we explore different Queensland locations, but this year it was ‘Christmas in August’ at Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe is a beautiful town in the Granite Belt, about 220km south-west of Brisbane, known for its cool climate produce like apples and grapes (and therefore wine). It’s a gorgeous rural location and the perfect place to take a wine tour, explore antique shops and settle in to a more relaxing pace.

Given that Stayz came through for us with our Eumundi accommodation, we tried it out again for Stanthorpe and it did not disappoint. We booked the delightful Maison De Meres for two nights, which slept up to 8 people very, very comfortably. It had everything you would want from a winter getaway – large verandas, a log fire, private bedroom suites and beautiful decor.

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We left Brisbane at about 11am on Friday and made the three hour drive to our new weekend home. It was so easy to settle in, explore the property, chop some fire wood and light the fire before the cool afternoon breezes came in. It was enough to make anyone second guess their city lifestyle.

IMG_1736 L100672420130804-162408.jpg20130804-162341.jpgAfter our first night of shinanigans at the homestead, we set off on Saturday morning to explore the main street. Stanthorpe may not have the grandeur of close-by Warwick, but it had its own quaint and welcoming feel that you couldn’t help but enjoy. I loved the little creek/ stream running through town and judging by the number of people out walking their dogs, feeding the ducks and picnicking along its banks, so do the locals.IMG_1744

I would recommend the High St Salvation Army store for its incredible bargins and lovely, country op shop vibe. I picked up two day dresses and a skirt for the grand total of $8. You can’t do that in Brisbane anymore. It was the perfect way to spend a few hours before a wine tour in the afternoon.

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My $2 dress

The antique store on the way into town from Brisbane was also fantastic, we stopped there on the way home. Prices were reasonable and you could tell the lovely woman working there really cared about what she was doing. The only thing I would note was that a lot of the other places were closed on Sunday, so if you’re planning a real treasure hunt, best to start on Saturday to make the most of the many other stores.

I picked up an absolute treasure of a 1950s hat made in Paris, for $30. I hardly ever find vintage headwear that fits my big head, so I was chuffed to take this beauty home.20130804-162251.jpg

Have you been to Stanthorpe? Let me know what you thought, I’d love to swap stories. I’ll post a review of our wine tour with Filippos tomorrow.