Vintage 2017 – Road Trip to Ballandean

Checking the grapes in the Granite Belt

Granite Belt Road Trip to check on the grapes -  Winemakers, Winemaker in the making, Cellar Door folk, fruit, great weather,
foul weather, storms, hail, bulls and dogs… Well of course it’s a road trip right?

Vintage time is all about early starts so we all met at the winery at 5am to head to the Granite Belt. While we were all pretty excited there was a conspicuous lack of chatting for the first couple of hours.   In car one heading from the mountain was my
good self – Heidi from Cellar door, Jon Heslop, owner/winemaker, Abby Heslop (Jon’s daughter and student winemaker),
Helen our Marketing gal and Alex our French Canadian from Cellar Door. Arantza our other winemaker lives in Toowoomba
so we met her out there.

On arrival the sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze and the grapes were beautiful enough that I think we all had our own versions of the Halleluliah Chorus trumpeting in our minds.  Not only does everything look amazing the flavours are intense, juicy and delicious. I have for a long time thought that grapes for wine wouldn’t be as edible as table grapes but I was wrong, they taste amazing – it’s just that the seeds and skin are tougher.

Fascinating facts I discovered:

  • When you check grapes you are also checking where the seed is at. When we got to the Monastrell, a late harvesting grape,
    the seed inside was still really green – a quick indication that the grape has not yet matured.  NEVER KNEW THAT.
  • The resveratrol  (say that fast 5 times) found in red wine grapes has a long list of benefits for us from being good for your heart to, can you believe it, sun protection.  There’s a great little article on the benefits below.  Viticulturalist Davydd Westlake told us that early research into this amazing stuff seems to indicate that the Granite Belt region has amongst the highest levels in the world with Chile being the only other area that is in the same sort of range.  NEVER KNEW THAT.
  • Red wine benefits: 13 reasons you need to drink more wine

After having a look at Cheryl’s Chardonnay (the fruit for our Wild Ferment Chardonnay) we were lucky enough to have Cheryl herself cook scones for morning tea and then later, after checking some other Vineyards, a delicious lunch.

As for the trip home…

We were travelling merrily along when in the distance we saw a huge lightning strike.  That’s exciting – I love a good storm!
15 minutes later we’re being pummelled with what varied from hail to sideways driven rain so heavy we couldn’t see out of the car. Jon’s car has a sunroof and needless to say a few hands went up to make sure that it didn’t shatter as we started looking for cover. First we nestled under a tree until, almost at the same time, we all agreed a limb could come down.  Then we took shelter in a disused petrol station until the large metal pole suddenly became something we thought may have conducted a lightning strike.  So on we went, this time with a lot of nervous chatter, until finally the rain started to subside. Then out of nowhere a large cow being chased by an incredibly large dog, which we initially thought was a calf, ran in front of us making everyone’s heart skip a beat.