How Queensland’s Salad Bowl grew to become one of Australia’s elite wine regions

It was once barely considered as an artisan wine destination, but Queensland’s Granite Belt has managed to turn itself into a world-class contender, with a bout of international awards prompting visitors to flock to the region, glass in hand. Once touted as ‘Queensland’s salad bowl’, thanks to its early production of some of the State’s best stone fruits, salad and vegetable crops, the south west region has grown to become one of Australia’s elite wine destinations. While other wine regions have enjoyed much of the lime light over the past decade, the Granite Belt has quietly earned its viticulture credentials and become a pilgrimage-worthy destination for wine enthusiasts globally – choosing to concentrate on quality over quantity. Granite Belt pioneer and Sirromet founder, Terry Morris, was one of the first to believe in the region, purchasing the Seven Scenes vineyard in 1999. The vineyard had once been the biggest grape-growing property in the region before being stripped back and turned into a fruit, vegetable and cattle farm in the ‘60s. Embarking on turning vision into reality, Terry and his team worked tirelessly to bring it back to its former glory, re-establishing its grape vines and nurturing it into the leading and most awarded Granite Belt producer it is today. “Queensland’s wine region is one of the nation’s greatest success stories. To create an industry where nothing existed before, and to prove to the world that Queensland can grow wine that’s equal to the best in the world, if not better, is an incredible achievement,” Mr Morris said. Sirromet Chief Wine Maker, Adam Chapman, has more than 30 years viticulture experience working in both Australia and France, and said Granite Belt wines were finally gaining the attention and admiration they deserve. “Sirromet’s focus is on developing premium wines and continuously looking for ways in which we can push the boundaries and remain industry leaders,” Adam said. “We grow all of our fruit from the 100 hectares of vineyard, which are grown and managed in the Granite Belt high country. We are gifted with a plethora of natural wonders, including decomposed granite soils, which allows us to grow the highest quality produce with unique flavours, enabling us to reach these new highs in winemaking. “We are very proud to be a part of the growth of the Granite Belt, and our recent awards are a testament to the quality of what we are producing here. I think this is just the beginning for this region and I encourage everyone to discover the taste of Queensland wine.” At just under 1,000 metres above sea level, the Granite Belt is the highest wine region in Australia and is almost 900 metres higher than Bordeaux in France or the Napa Valley in the States – providing the perfect cool climate terroir for producing premium wines. The Granite Belt holds its own as a leading wine and tourist destination by offering it’s influx of tourists more than 55 vineyards and 40 boutique cellar doors, coupled with a scenic 530 hectares of vineyard plantings. Its sought after varieties include chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, sauvignon blanc, verdelho and pinot gris, with distribution spanning across countries including China and Japan.