South Burnett Cuisine > News Archives > December 2004
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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers!
20th December 2004: As I write Christmas is only a few sleeps away and this is my last column for 2004. As was the case last year, I'll be taking a short break over the Festive Season so that my wife and children can be reminded what I look like. During the last 12 months the South Burnett's wine and food industries experienced another extraordinary year of growth and it's probably worth recapping some of the highlights. To kick off, our region's wine industry celebrated its 10th birthday in 2004 by racking up an unprecedented number of accolades which included the biggest medal tally yet at the Queensland Wine Awards and John Crane's gong for "Queensland's Best Red". We also got to see several new cellar doors open - such as the fabulous Whistlestop Wines at Nanango and Tipperary Estate at Moffatdale. And in 2005 we're going to see several more (including Jason and Sue Kinsella's Moffatdale Ridge; Nanango's Arabesque Wines; and one or two new operations at Kingaroy who have their planning applications in with Kingaroy Shire Council right now). We also saw Merlot - Captains Paddock's resident pup - stake her claim as a national celebrity when she debuted in "Wine Dogs" (you may get to see Alex Brydge's dog from Bridgeman Downs in the next edition too!). In much the same vein, our regional food continued to progress from good to great with the Bell Tower Restaurant receiving a red star of excellence in the Good Life's 2005 Restaurant Guide alongside Kingaroy's Burning Beats Café and Explorers Restaurant. Former Kiwi rock star Bunnie Walters took over the reins of Up Country's café in Wondai (where he and wife Ruth have been going gangbusters, I understand); the former owners of Goomeri's famous Pumpkin Pie resurfaced in Wondai with Tickled Pink; and Kingaroy Cheese continue to pick up accolades and distributors all over the country for their products. This year we also got to follow the progress of Amy Ballin, ex-apprentice chef at Nanango's Copper Country Restaurant, as she made waves in Britain at the Young UK Chef of the Year competition. And major publications - including the Courier Mail's Good Life - made regular mention of the South Burnett all year long. Our region also appeared (for the first time!) in Sally Hammond's Australian Regional Food Guide. And TV media exposure for the South Burnett reached new highs with features in Queensland Weekender, On The Land, WIN News and Leyland's Australia. I'd also like to thank our friends at the South Burnett Adviser and Crow FM 90.7 who utilise this website for their own South Burnett Cuisine newsbites. And with this much happening I can assure you I'll be back in late January to do it all over again for 2005. Until then, thank you for visiting this site - and have a great Christmas!
Coming In January 2005: Stomp & Sip!
Stomp and sip at Barambah Ridge17th December 2004: One thing I thought we've always lacked in the South Burnett is a good old fashioned grape stomp. Grape stomping is very popular in the Granite Belt (in fact, I suspect at least some of their wines are still made this way). But South Burnett winemaking is so modern and automated I think we've overlooked the point that most Australians really love to have fun with fruit. We like to roll our pumpkins down Policeman's Hill at the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival and watch them splatter all over the road. We love to do watermelon tossing - and many other mind-blowingly messy things - at the Chinchilla Watermelon Festival. And if they ever bring back peanut butter wrestling at Kingaroy's Peanut Festival I'm sure we'd go wild over that too! So if you've ever yearned to get in a barrel stuffed with grapes and get your toes wet - and really, haven't we all? - you'll get your chance next month when Barambah Ridge introduce their inaugural Stomp & Sip mini-harvest festival. Starting at 9:00am sharp on Sunday 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd January 2005 participants can pick grapes straight from the Ridge's vineyards (which will be coming into their first harvest period at that time) and then stomp the living daylights out of them barefoot for an experience you're unlikely to ever forget. All participants will then be welcome to join the Ridge's staff for a glass of wine and BBQ lunch to celebrate bringing in the crop and another successful vintage. The cost of this whacky, fun family day out - including lunch - is just $20 for adults and $10 for the kids. You can get more details and make a booking by phoning Kirsten on (07) 4168 4766.
South Burnett Cuisine Featured In Australian Regional Food Guide
Australian Regional Food Guide14th December 2004: Over the last two years this web site has been recording the growth that's occurring in our region's food and wine industries. And today I'm pleased to report another milestone. This year - for the first time ever - the South Burnett has been covered in the Australian Regional Food Guide. This prestige publication is a foodies' bible and it covers all the major "name" food regions in the nation. Author Sally Hammond is an award-winning and highly respected food and travel writer and the latest edition covers numerous restaurants, wineries, boutique food producers and farmstays from all corners of the South Burnett in the book's Queensland section. All up, the guide features over 2000 entries from around the nation along with quirky local facts and fun places to visit. Sally also helpfully includes a list of useful websites in each state for readers who want to find out more, and I was humbled to find that this website is the Guide's first choice for Queensland. By pure coincidence Sally and her husband and co-author Gordon are in our region right now as guests of the South Burnett Wine Industry Association, conducting a photo shoot of several of our wineries. I took the opportunity to tape an interview with Sally a couple of days ago and if you tune into my regular radio show on Crow-FM 90.7 at 10:40am this coming Friday morning, December 17th you can get to hear her views on our region verbatim. The Australian Regional Food Guide is published by New Holland Publishers and was launched this week for $29.95 RRP. You can obtain it at any good bookstore or directly over the Net from Dymocks Online. STOP PRESS: After Sally's radio talk I was able to obtain a copy of the interview in MP3 format. If you have a sound card and want to hear it yourself, click here (3.6Mb)
South Burnett Cuisine Christmas Gift Ideas Part II
11th December 2004: Last week I suggested some great places to shop for unique South Burnett Christmas gifts. Now here's some more! The first is our local peanut industry icon The Peanut Van. As they do every Christmas, owners Rob and Chris Patch have whipped up a small range of inexpensive Christmas treats that will suit every taste and pocket. You can view them right now on their web site and order them in person, by phone, fax, mail or directly online. Providing you get your order in by Friday 17th (or the 23rd if you live in Brisbane or Ipswich) your delivery will arrive before Christmas. Another line of Christmas presents you can look at are Crane Wines' traditional $100 Christmas dozens. Over the last few years winemaker John Crane has won so many awards that I've lost count but every Christmas he offers $100 mixed dozens of his sweet whites and reds. And this year he's also offering 5 litre oak barrels filled with his liqueur muscat for $260. You can order by phone or email (but at this price you'll probably have to pick your order up in person!). And a third and fourth place to do some of your Christmas shopping - though this time for your own Christmas table rather than as gifts - are Kingaroy Cheese and Bottle Tree Hill Organic Farm. Chris Ganzer's multi award-winning Kingaroy cheeses are perfect for the Yuletide if you want to spoil yourself fresh, top-quality, mouth watering cheeses. The William Street factory outlet will be open every day through the Festive Season (except Christmas Day). Meanwhile, Will and Megan Seiler's Bottle Tree Hill Organics are offering organic Christmas hams - plus bacon, sausages and a wide range of other meats perfect for Festive Season BBQs - right now providing you get your order in ASAP. Bottle Tree Hill's organic meats are developing a big reputation and are now used by a wide range of restaurants (as well as a growing and loyal local customer base). All the same, stocks are limited so first in - best dressed!
Bumper Cleanskin Sale At Barambah Ridge This Saturday
Barambah Ridge Winery8th December 2004: Readers with very long memories will recall the story that appeared here in July 2003 about Barambah Ridge wines picking up gold and silver medals at the San Francisco Wine Show. The Ridge's wines beat off more than 4,000 competitors to take out two top USA gongs that year. But in one of the ironies of the wine trade, they couldn't claim any direct credit for it. Why? Because the wines that won were cleanskins that carried Canungra Valley Vineyards' label. And it was that vineyard that entered them in the wine show, not the Ridge. In a similar vein many wine buyers who purchase wines from the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast hinterland wineries right now would probably be very surprised to find that what they're purchasing isn't wine from those areas at all. It's actually South Burnett wine onsold as cleanskins. These unlabelled bottles help our wineries offload wine surplus to their own requirements and help buyers make up shortfalls in their stock. The buyers just attach their own labels to these wines and retail them. This should underline two important points: first, that you should never underestimate the quality of cleanskin wine - it's just as good as the same wine that carries the winery's own label. And second, that you should never base a wine's bona fides on the label. Unless you talk with the winery you may never know where a wine really comes from. I'm putting these points down because this coming Saturday 11th December astute South Burnett wine buyers are going to get the opportunity to pick up some of Barambah Ridge's best stock at prices that they'll probably never see again. Starting at 8:00am this Saturday morning, the Ridge are going to clean out as much of their cleanskin wine as they possibly can. Cuisine readers took advantage of Stuart Range's clear-out sale back in November to grab astonishing bargains and this sale will be the same - sans labels, of course! You can find out more by phoning the Ridge on (07) 4168 4766. Otherwise I'll probably be seeing you there this Saturday.
Tipperary Estate's Official Opening: Saturday 18th December
Tipperary Estate logo5th December 2004: Almost a month ago (see story 14th November) I broke the news that Tipperary Estate's new cellar door had opened for business next to the property's existing B&B on Tipperary Road at Moffatdale - but only just. Difficulties involved in getting builders meant that the project was almost 6 months behind its originally planned schedule and a few small areas of the building (like some of the interior fittings) still needed to be completed. But I'm very pleased to announce that owners Craig and Pauline Gillett haven't been letting the grass grow under their feet. The new cellar door's official public opening is going to be celebrated with a gala lunch on Saturday 18th December between 12:00 noon and 4:00pm. For a modest $25 per head, guests at the official opening will get to enjoy a two course lunch, a complimentary glass of wine and live entertainment from well-known local band Wholehearted who'll be performing unplugged) And considering the 18th is just a week before Christmas when we're all in the mood to begin seriously unwinding, it probably couldn't happen at a better time! But you'll need to be quick if you want to take part: numbers are strictly limited to 50 and ticket sales are already underway. You can book yours by phoning Tipperary on (07) 4168-4802 or (07) 4168-4839. PS: I should add that in my previous story about Tipperary I'd pointed out that their wines were particularly good even though they're not - as yet - produced from the grapes being grown on the estate. I wasn't making that up! Late last month Tipperary walked away with a bronze medal at the Queensland Wine Awards for their 2002 Shiraz. Having enjoyed it myself I can assure you it's well merited. Illustration: Tipperary Estate's new logo, which is now used on all their wine labels. When you visit the estate you'll quickly see where it came from!
South Burnett Cuisine Christmas Gift Ideas
The team at Whistle Stop Wines, Nanango2nd December 2004: Christmas is only a little over 3 weeks away and many readers will be starting their annual search for Christmas gifts about now. If you're lost for something unique and inexpensive to give your loved ones - especially those that may live far away - why not give them the gifts we have in abundance: our region's wonderful wines and foodstuffs? Here are two ideas you can investigate right now. The first is Nanango's Whistle Stop Wines (located on the Burnett Highway just a block north of the Drayton Street intersection). Whistle Stop Wines are almost a year old now and this Christmas they've begun offering a range of Christmas specials to say "thankyou!" to all their customers. These include case specials (buy 10, get a dozen); gift boxes ($22 to $28) and gift baskets ($30 to $40), the latter two of which include everything from baths salts and baby oils through to olives. Whistle Stop Wines are also clearing out their 2004 display stock at $10 a bottle - and their cafe (open every Thursday to Monday between 10:00am and 5:00pm) is a great place to relax while you contemplate your shopping. A second great place to do your Christmas gift shopping is, of course, Bruce and Rae Hurley's South Burnett Hampers at their popular Left Bank Cafe in Kilkivan. Bruce and Rae carry stock from every winery in the South Burnett along with locally produced lavender products, olive products, home-brand honeys and sauces. They can whip up any gift hamper you want - just give them a budget and they'll work to it - or you can make up your own. And you can do it in person, by phone or over the Net (the big advantage of doing it in person is you can also get to relax and eat Rae's wonderful cooking at the Left Bank Cafe while you do it. It's open daily from 10:00am to around 4:00pm, or as late as you like if you're staying for dinner. Photo above: Staff at the Whistle Stop Wines cafe and cellar door in Nanango.

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