South Burnett Cuisine > News Archives > March 2003
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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

Stuart Range Launches Australia's First 2003 Wine
Henry Palaszczuk launches April One30th March 2003: Queensland Primary Industries Minister Henry Palaszczuk was at Kingaroy's Stuart Range Estates winery on Saturday to officially launch the first wine from Australia's 2003 vintage: April One, a verdelho-chardonnay blend developed by Stuart Range's winemaker Ross Whiteford. A crowd of more than 50 heard that because the South Burnett is able to take is harvest off the vines anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks earlier than the rest of the country, the region is also in the able to release new vintage wines earlier than any other part of the nation too. This is a unique geographic advantage that Stuart Range intend to begin exploiting in the years ahead (and I'm sure our region's other winemakers probably will as well). Whiteford's new April One is a delightfully light white (13.5% alcohol) with pronounced tropical fruit and citrus flavours. It's best served chilled and would be a superb accompaniment to any seafood dish. Ross told attendees that he thinks another couple of months in the bottle will only improve the product by helping to bring out more chardonnay characteristics, but the new wine will be on sale at leading restaurants and liquor outlets throughout south east Queensland from April 1st. It will also appear on the catering division of Parliament House's wine list where - I'm sure - it will find a very appreciative audience. Photo: Henry Palaszczuk gives his seal of approval to April One.

South Burnett Wine Summary


April One (2003 Vintage)


Stuart Range Estates Winery
67 William Street, Kingaroy

Contact details:  

Phone: (07) 4162-3711


100% South Burnett


750ml (8 standard drinks)


Verdelho and Chardonnay blend

Alcohol Content:  



Sulphur dioxide


Ref 1A


$13.00 single bottle ($145 per dozen)                              

New! South Burnett Wine and Food Day Bus Tours
Clovely Estates27th March 2003: Sunshine Coast residents who'd like to take a flying one-day tour of the South Burnett are now able to thanks to an innovative partnership between Clovely Estates, Barambah Ridge, The Left Bank at Kilkivan and the Belle Villa Crayfish and Olive Farm (also at Kilkivan). Selected Sunshine Coast and Gympie bus tour operators are now offering a one-day "Taste The Magic Of The South Burnett" package tour that takes in all four destinations and includes winery tours, tastings, morning tea at Barambah Ridge, lunch at The Left Bank and an afternoon looking over Belle Villa's innovative redclaw and olive-growing operations. The tour is the brainchild of Clovely's cellar door manager Craig Gillett. Pending its success, other tours will be organised to the southern end of the South Burnett for Brisbane residents in the foreseeable future. This will allow anyone who lives on the coast to get to enjoy a fun day out in our region without having to worry about having a designated driver aboard. If you live in Gympie or the Sunshine Coast and want to take one of these tours (the first one came into the region today), contact Bruce or Rae Hurley at The Left Bank on (07) 5484-1016 (or email them) to find out the contact details of your nearest participating bus company.
And The Winners Are...
Steve Gudzinski and Juli Robertson24th March 2003: On the weekend I had the pleasure of judging seven of the South Burnett's finest chefs and cooks as they battled it out for honours at the highly anticipated PCA Regional Culinary Competition. The event has now become a drawcard of the Tarong Coal Wine and Food in the Park Festival and this year's wok-off certainly didn't disappoint! A smorgasbord of regional produce and wine was showcased in a number of creative and original dishes, and the ultimate winners were:
  • Best overall dish - Steve Gudzinski (Chef) Bell Tower Restaurant
  • Best wine and food match - Steve Gudzinski (Chef) Bell Tower Restaurant
  • Most creative use of regional produce - Aaron Bell (Chef) Carrollee Hotel
  • Most creative use of peanuts - Elwyn Rackemann (Cook) Explorers Restaurant

As with last year's event, there are no losers. All the 2003 entrants will eventually have their recipes published on this web site and - I hoped - in a future edition of Taste the Magic of the South Burnett cookbook, which was also launched at this years competition (see story further below). The cook-off's guest judges Alison Alexander (food consultant and critic) and John McDonald (purveyor of Fine Foods) said they were impressed with the skills and creativity of the contestants and the abundance of unique regional produce. As a direct result of the competition, Steve Gudzinski will now join Team South Burnett at the LifeStyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition to represent the South Burnett region in Adelaide later this year. The addition of Mr Gudzinski to the team completes the culinary quartet, because the prestigious national competition requires all teams to be comprised of four professional chefs. Photo above: Steve Gudzinski from the Bell Tower Restaurant and Juli Robertson from cook-off sponsors PCA.

New General Manager For Barambah Ridge
Janelle McLaren21st March 2003: Popular South Burnett wine industry identity Janelle McLaren has been appointed General Manager of Barambah Ridge. Janelle - who's worked for the company since 1999 managing several of its cellar doors and/or overseeing its marketing operations - has a long background in the hospitality industry and said she was "excited" by the demanding new role. "Barambah Ridge will crush more than 400 tonnes of Queensland grapes for the 2003 vintage with estimated value of $1.8 million," she said. "We're also in the midst of consolidating our operations as one of the largest wine operations in the state, making wines under our own label and carrying out contract wine making for other Queensland wine producers. So it's quite an exciting time for me personally and for everyone involved with the company. The amount of capital that's been invested in the industry here over the past five years in things like developing best practice viticulture, technologically advanced winery processes and the investment in quality oak is obvious in the wines that are being produced now, and the Queensland wine industry is really starting to boom because of that. I'm really proud to be part of it all."
Regional Cookbook To Be Launched This Saturday
Taste The Magic Of The South Burnett18th March 2003: The South Burnett's own regional cuisine cookbook will be officially launched at the Tarong Coal Wine & Food In The Park Festival this coming Saturday 22nd March. The 32 page spiral bound publication - which has been almost a year in the making - was released from the printers yesterday. It looks absolutely gorgeous and would make a wonderful addition to any serious foodie's library. After the launch the cookbook will be widely available through all the region's Visitor Information Centres and many other outlets as well as directly through this web site (order fulfillment will be carried out by the Kingaroy Visitor Information Centre). The cookbook features a wide range of regional recipes along with suggested South Burnett wines to accompany each dish. It also has 12 bonus postcards and a re-order form included, along with a copy of the region's Wine and Food Trail map. The book has been put together by the wine and food subcommittee of the South Burnett Tourism Association - who've really done a tremendous job, I think - and has been supported by the DPI, the South Burnett Local Government Association, the Fraser Coast South Burnett Tourism Board, local tourism operators and the Regional Arts Development Fund. Copies will retail for $15.95 and all profits will be used to assemble future editions. Look for an online order form on this site next week after the launch.
New Winery Opens At Goodger
15th March 2003: The South Burnett's wine industry is still relatively small compared to more established regions like the Barossa and Hunter - but I'm pleased to report that it's growing rapidly. Latest entrant? Kingsley Grove near Goodger, who'll be their first public appearance at the Tarong Coal Wine & Food In The Park Festival on Saturday 22nd March. Kingsley Grove is owned by Michael and Patricia Berry and they put down their first vines in 1998. Since then their vineyard has quietly expanded to 22 acres and 8 varieties of grapes including Sangiovese and Chambourcin (which are fairly new to the area). After a trial winemaking run at their ultra-modern plant in 2001 they've just released five 2002 vintages to announce their public debut: a chardonnay, a semillon, their Estate Cabernet Shiraz, a Hilltop Shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon. Both Michael and Patricia picked up their winemaking skills in Victoria and I'm sure many people will be keen to sample their wares at this year's Festival. At present, Kingsley Grove don't have a cellar door and don't sell at their Stuart Valley Drive premises either. If you want to try and/or buy their wines you'll need to either run into them at a wine tasting or order via mail from their web site. However, this could change in the future depending on how things develop.
PCA's Regional Culinary Cook-Off Building Up Steam
12th March 2003: Last year the Department of Primary Industries rolled out something extraordinary at the annual Tarong Coal Wine & Food In The Park Festival: a regional cuisine cooking competition that attracted a raft of the region's best chefs. Hundreds of foodies packed out the competition tent all day long to watch the action and the enormous success of the cook-off was one of the big surprises of the 2002 Festival. The good news is that this year it looks like it's going to be even better! The Peanut Company of Australia are the major sponsors of the 2003 cook-off and since the theme of last year's event was "Cooking With A Skewer", the theme of this year's will be "Cooking With Peanuts". The same judges will be putting competitors through their paces and DPI (bless them) will be supplying a lot of the essential infrastructure to make it all happen on the day. If you really enjoy food, come along to Memorial Park on Saturday 22nd March and watch the woks fly! Photo above: (l to r) DPI Director-General Warren Hoey, Liesl Coggan from South Burnett Promotions and John Day from Kingaroy DPI at the 2002 cook-off.
How Do You Crack A Bunya Nut?
Rex Parsons and a Bunya nut9th March 2003: On Australia Day I went to the Bunya Mountains with my family to see Rex Parsons (see photo at right), the chef of Rosellas Restaurant. Rex is Australia's leading culinary expert on Bunya nuts and has recently written a fantastic cookbook dedicated to the bush food icon: Chef Rex Creating with Bunya Nuts. I went to see Rex because I was looking for advice about how I could use Bunya nuts when my team competes at the LifeStyle Channel Regional Culinary Competition in Adelaide later this year. Rex made some great suggestions (eg: smoking meat using Bunya Nut shells) but also confided that he has a surprising problem: apparently there's been no technological advancement for breaking open the hard, fibrous outer shell of these nuts. And right now this makes harvesting and production laborious and commercially unviable. Only fifty years ago another indigenous nut was in a similar boat: the Macadamia nut. But in 1954 engineers developed a mechanised system for shelling Macadamias and the industry is now worth hundreds of millions a year in export sales. And even though the Macadamia is now grown internationally, Australia still produces one third of the world's supply. On the way back to the picnic area where my family was enjoying some snags off the barbie, two Bunya cones fell from the sky and exploded into the ground only metres from my kids before rolling down a slope into our picnic blankets. As the cones came to rest against our barbeque (and after my heart started beating again!) I decided this must have been a sign from God. So I'm issuing a challenge to any creative engineers out there: if you can come up with an efficient process for shelling Bunya nuts you may just spawn the next great Australian nut industry. Get cracking!
Region's Grape Harvest "Extraordinary"
Stuart Range Estates6th March 2003: About two weeks ago I wrote that several local winemakers had tipped me that this year's harvest looked like producing a premium crop. Now Stuart Range's new manager Ross Whitford has added his voice to the consensus. "Ask any winemaker when white grapes are due to picked and they'll tell you it should be February for whites and mid-March for reds. But because of the drought conditions in the South Burnett we harvested our first Chardonnay grapes in mid-January this year and our Shiraz grapes in late January. This is unprecedented in my 20 years winemaking experience." Ross attributes the early harvest to three factors: warm weather in early Spring which brought the bud-burst forward; dry conditions over the growing season which kept fungal threats to a minimum; and dry conditions the previous year (ie 2002) which improved bunch and berry size. Stuart Range will making full use of this year's crop to redefine some of their lines. Their 2003 Chardonnay will be made in two distinct wine styles: one getting the full wooded treatment, the other being made for elegance. Their Shiraz will be a good coloured style with understated oak and their Cabernet will be fruity and lower in alcohol then current trends, with the aim being to produce good pungent aromatics and light supple mouth tannins. The biggest winner will be their Cabernet Shiraz Merlot blend - a speciality of the region. 2003's will be fuller bodied with rich mouth-filling tannins and a little oak to help it along. [PS: As a footnote, Stuart Range recently stopped specialling their 2001 Goodger Shiraz. Reason? It's worth way more than the price they were charging. If you like Shiraz, I can recommend this particular blend at any price]
Bell Tower Spit Roast Livens Up Sunday Night Dining
3rd March 2003: Last night (ie Sunday) I went to the first of the Bell Tower Restaurant's new Sunday Night Spit Roasts at the Booie Range Distillery. Chef Steve Gudzinski proposes to hold these nights between 4:30pm and 7:00pm every second Sunday from now on - and personally, I think he's on a winner! At $10.90 for adults and $5.90 for children (soft drink and ice-cream included) this is a very affordable evening out for the whole family or your favourite social group. And the 4.30pm start is a perfect opportunity to get the kids fed early so that Mum and Dad can settle into a relaxing evening without getting their ankles bitten off. The buffet consists of a fresh spit roast - on the evening I was there it was a whole pig - accompanied by an assortment of salads, roast vegetables and fresh bread rolls. The Bell Tower are also offering beer on the wood (at $5.50 per pint) to add extra sparkle. And after the recent rain, the views at the restaurant are a spectacular patchwork of greens and red soil right now - the best I've seen since the Bell Tower opened in 2001. The next spit roast evening will be on Sunday 16th March. However, if you're thinking of trying it yourself I'd strongly recommend making a booking. 90 people turned up for the first night and tables will undoubtably be in even greater demand as word gets around.

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