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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

South Burnett Featured In Country Life... And We Celebrate A Birthday!
28th November 2003: It seems that hardly a week goes by these days without our region featuring somewhere in popular press. And this week it was the turn of our friends at Queensland Country Life, who produced their annual South Burnett feature in the November 27th edition. It was no surprise (to me, anyway) that 6 out of the 8 articles in this year's feature were wine and food related stories:
  • Will and Meagan Seiler's gourmet free-range pork products
  • Dan Burnett's Spring Gully Olives
  • John Cahill's Kingaroy Ridge Shiraz
  • Margaret and Gerry Gagel's Cheese World at Goomeri
  • Rob and Chris Patch's new Peanut Van products, and
  • Team South Burnett's Tasting Australia effort

This time last year Queensland Country Life featured a story about the launch of our South Burnett Cuisine website. So it was good to be able to feed them great leads to repay their kindness (yes, you're right: we'd broken all these stories right here on this web site!). And from our next story on December 1st, South Burnett Cuisine will be entering its second year on the Net. I look forward to it. There's never been any shortage of news about our food and wine industries over the last 12 months, and I don't think it'll be any different in the next.

Local Winemakers Gear Up For State Wine Awards
25th November 2003: If local winemakers seem a little on edge this week, it's probably because their minds are focussed on the up-coming 2003 Courier-Mail Sheraton Brisbane Queensland Wine Awards. This prestigious annual show is the State's peak wine event and judging will be taking place this coming Saturday and Sunday. The year's winners will then be announced at a gala function on Monday night, December 1st. Last year South Burnett winemakers put in 14.7% of the total entries and walked away with 14.9% of the medals. Kingaroy's Crane Wines took out silver for their Frontignac and bronze for their 2001 Noble Chardonnay while Moffatdale's Clovely Estates took three bronzes, Redgate's Barambah Ridge won two and Maclagan's Rimfire Winery took another - nearly all of them for 2001 reds, semillons or verdelhos. This year I understand that even more South Burnett winemakers are going to be exhibiting at the Queensland Wine Awards. And considering that many of them have already won a good haul of medals over the last year at serious wine shows as diverse as the Melbourne, the Toowoomba Royal, the San Francisco International and - just a few weeks ago - the Australian Small Winemakers, I'm quietly confident they'll do well with this one too. As you'd expect, I'll be reporting the results of the 2003 Wine Awards right here as soon as they're released.
South Burnett Receives A Commendation From Adelaide
Lifestyle Channel Certificate of Commendation22nd November 2003: I was thrilled this week to receive an official Certificate of Commendation from the organisers of the LifeStyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition. Team South Burnett's efforts were praised and I was told that this year the standard of Australian cuisine had been lifted by an immeasurable amount. So our team (and our region) should be very proud of its achievement. Since returning from Adelaide many people have asked me if it's possible to see what our team's entry looked like. So I'm also pleased to announce that the official competition photos have now been released to the public and you can view them right now on PCA's web site. In addition, you can also obtain the recipes for our three competition dishes (entree, main and dessert) on PCA's site too. With the final chapter closing for Team South Burnett's 2003 effort, this is also a very opportune time to thank all our major sponsors: The Tarong Coal Community Development Fund, Peanut Company of Australia, the South Burnett Local Government Association, Swickers, Bean Growers Australia, Huston Ford, SB Food Service Distributors, Palatable Partners and The Knife Co. I'd also like to thank our region's top winemakers (Ross Whiteford from Stuart Range, John Crane from Cranes Wines and Stuart Pierce from Barambah Ridge) for their invaluable assistance in helping match South Burnett wines with each of the three courses. And here's a small scoop: preliminary talks have already begun for Team South Burnett's battle for culinary gold at Tasting Australia 2005!
4th Annual Jazz In The Vineyard Coming This Saturday
19th November 2003: If you missed out on the recent Wine & Food Industry Dinner (see story 13th November, below) and are kicking yourself for it - as a few people have told me they are - you can have a second bite at the cherry this coming Saturday night. But only if you're quick. The Nanango Lions Club and Barney and Anne Davoren from Runnymede Vineyard will be holding their 4th annual Jazz In The Vineyard evening at Runnymede's property from 6:30pm until midnight this coming weekend. For $55 per head guests will be treated to a great three-course meal, all the local and Australian wine they can consume and entertainment by Brisbane jazz band Three Plus One, who'll play a mixture of traditional, dixie and progressive jazz to get your feet dancing. A free bus will be running from Kingaroy to the vineyard, stopping off at Nanango to pick up additional revellers, and you'll be greeted with champagne and hors d'oeuvres on arrival too. Best of all, the proceeds of the night will go to aid a very worthy cause: the Lions Medical Research Foundation (I'm told some people from the Foundation will be in Saturday night's crowd). If you want to go, you'll need to contact the Nanango Visitor Information Centre immediately next to Nanango Shire Council's chambers to obtain tickets - and you have to do it by 4:00pm this coming Friday. You can phone the Visitor Info Centre on (07) 4171-6871 or send them an email for more details and/or bookings. You can also contact Barney or Anne on (07) 4163-1559 or (07) 4171-6871
South Burnett Gets Another New Wine Label
John Cahill and Cahills 2002 Shiraz16th November 2003: A little over three weeks ago I wrote about a new wine label from Vaughn's Vineyard (see story 23rd October 2003). Now I'm very happy to be writing about another one: Cahill's Wines. From tomorrow onwards you'll be able to buy Cahill's 2002 Shiraz from the Carrollee Hotel's bottle shop in Kingaroy. This new wine has been produced by the affable John Cahill who works at the bottle shop several days a week. John has been quietly putting in rows of shiraz grapes on his property at Booie over the last few years and has now decided to come out in public with his debut release. He tells me that he's worked in the liquor and hospitality industries for most of his life and has always had a strong interest in wine - one that pre-dates the start the local wine industry by at least a decade. So he's been quietly adding a couple of rows of grapes to his holdings every year for the last four years now. That way (John says) he's certain that he's able to handle the workload at each stage as the vines start to strike their true character. Right at the moment John only grows one variety of grape on his property - shiraz - but he's considering branching out into a small planting of a white variety at some point in the future. His 2002 Shiraz was produced for him by the legendary John Crane at nearby Crane's Wines and is presented in one of the most strikingly tall wine bottles I've seen in a long time. Each one is painstakingly hand-labelled and since it's a debut release, could well become a collectable in the future. You can obtain a bottle for your own cellar for $16.95 . And if John's on shift when you drop by, get to talk with the winegrower while you're at it! Photo: John Cahill hard at work in his Kingaroy Ridge vineyards at Booie and (inset) the tall, striking bottle that holds his debut 2002 Shiraz release.
2003 Wine & Food Industry Dinner A Rip-Roaring Success!
Attendees at the 2003 Wine & Food Industry Dinner13th November 2003: Last Sunday night the South Burnett celebrated a year of great accomplishment for our region's winemakers and food producers in grand style at Wooroolin's Lil Ol Church Restaurant. 55 people from the region's wine, food and hospitality industries - slightly less than a capacity crowd, but extraordinary given the short notice - turned up in formal wear to listen to the two guest speakers, eat great Australian contemporary cuisine served up with style from the Lil Ol Church's kitchen and demolish a small mountain of regional whites and reds. Peter Mansfield from Winetac delivered a very amusing and inspiring talk about the real, bottom-line benefits of staff training. And well-known wine writer and TV presenter Peter Howard gave an equally stirring talk about the growing recognition that Queensland wines are beginning to receive on the national stage. Unusually, perhaps, the dinner was held on a Sunday night. That's because Sunday is one of the few nights that people involved in the wine or hospitality industries can actually get away from "the office". But there's now talk of holding a similar function for the general public (similar to the old Wine & Food Vintage Dinner) on a Saturday night in 2004 and I certainly think there's a place for this too. The industry dinner, nonetheless, deserves to become an institution in its own right. Everyone I talked to on the night (or since) had a wonderful time. And full credit for this must go to Maryanne Pidcock from Captain's Paddock, who organised the event. Photo: Attendees at the 2003 Wine & Food Industry Dinner included (left to right), Ray Currie, Joanna Burnet, Bruce Hurley, Sue Currie, Rae Hurley and Dan Burnet.
Cheese World Opens In Goomeri
Margaret and Gerry Gagel10th November 2003: I was astounded the other day when I drove into Goomeri and was greeted by a three-storey high, bright yellow mouse called "Motza" - a surprising change from the rows of antique stores that Goomeri's visitors are accustomed to seeing. I was on my way to visit Cheese World - an exciting new South Burnett specialty food store which opened on the 31st October. Cheese World is the brainchild of Margaret and Gerry Gagel who spent 9 months travelling around Australian cheese outlets to develop their shop's concept. Cheese World - as you might expect - stocks a wide range of gourmet Australian farmhouse cheeses. These include the South Burnett's own award winning Kingaroy Cheeses along with cheeses sourced from the Hunter Valley, Gippsland, Kangaroo Island, Coolabine and Kenilworth. The shop also stocks a range of other foodstuffs including olive oils from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the South Burnett; and Murgon's GABS & Bacon products (see story 20th October 2003, below). The couple, who are originally from Proston, chose to set up shop in Goomeri because of its steady flow of tourism traffic. "We've witnessed the growth of the South Burnett as a food and wine destination and could see Goomeri's central proximity for tourists travelling from the Sunshine Coast and from other parts of the South Burnett", Margaret told me. "We've been flat strap ever since we opened and we're having to order new cheese products every two days to keep up with demand". The couple has even bigger plans for their business. Right now they're applying for a license which will allow them to sell a wide range of South Burnett wines in the shop too. You can contact Cheese World on (07) 4168 4418 or via email - otherwise just drive to Goomeri and look for the giant mouse!  Photo: Margaret and Gerry Gagel say "Cheese!" for the camera outside Cheese World, the South Burnett's latest specialty food shop. 
South Burnett Cleans Up At Australian Small Winemakers Show
Australian Small Winemakers Show7th November 2003: Blow me down! Here's another reason why local licensed outlets should be stocking the local product: the South Burnett has just walked away from the 2003 Australian Small Winemakers Show (ASWS) with a whopping 32% of the medal tally. The ASWS is a prestigious wine show for winemakers crushing 500 tonnes of grapes or less per annum. It's run to national standards and so highly regarded that gold-medal winning wines at the ASWS are allowed an automatic entree into the Canberra National Wine Show. This year the ASWS attracted more than 1,600 entries from all over Australia and New Zealand, including 31 from the South Burnett (about 2% of the total). But our winemakers came home with an incredible 10 medals, which amounts to almost 32% of all the medals on offer. Barambah Ridge picked up 3 bronzes; Clovely Estate took a whopping 5 bronzes; Crane Wines took a gold and trophy for their fortified muscat; and Captains Paddock took a bronze for their rose-style Rosetta. The show's award presentation dinner was held on Tuesday 4th November at the Stanthorpe Civic Centre and Queensland Wine Industry Association vice-chairman Maryanne Pidcock from Captain's Paddock was in attendance on behalf of our region. "These medals continue to give consumers confidence in South Burnett product," Maryanne told me. "Our region can really celebrate! These medals demonstrate that our wine has all the integrity of our southern counterparts". I'm certain that South Burnett wine will flow pretty liberally when our region's winemakers gather to celebrate their success at the 2003 Wine and Food Industry Dinner, which is being held this Sunday 9th November at the Lil Ol Church in Wooroolin. I'll see you there! [PS: There are still a few tickets available to this $55 a head dinner if you hurry - phone (07) 4162-4534 for details]
Tourism 101: Why Local Venues Should Stock Regional Wines
4th November 2003: Last month when I visited the Barossa Valley one thing I couldn't help notice was that every single licensed venue I stopped at - either in the Barossa or in Adelaide - had an ample stock of South Australian wines on hand. And it makes sense when you think about it, doesn't it? How many tourists would travel to Adelaide or the Barossa to try anything except the local wines? So I'm very pleased to see that more and more licensed venues in the South Burnett are now starting to carry some local wines in their cellars and on their wine lists. And I can only encourage any hotelier or restaurateur who isn't doing this at the moment to look at it seriously. It's certainly true - as a few liquor outlets have told me - that they can't make the same margin on local wines as they can on interstate wines. That's because the interstate winemakers are huge corporations that can sell their wines at rates below what it costs our own much smaller wineries to produce theirs. But markup isn't the point. The real point is that if we're going to grow the South Burnett into the State's biggest wine region (which it already is in terms of grape crush) and build up a tremendous tourism industry - something that will benefit every sector of our local economy, including all our hoteliers and restaurateurs - the time to start supporting the local industry is right now. South Burnett wines are national class already and we should be justly proud of what we're producing here. But every time a visitor drops by a hotel or licensed restaurant, asks for a local wine and can't get it we've just shot our foot off, haven't we? I look forward to the day when this easily-preventable problem ceases to exist, and when there's at least one or two local wines available at every licensed outlet in the region.
South Burnett Cuisine Now On Crow-FM 90.7
Microphone1st November 2003: If you're a fan of local radio - and who isn't? - you can now hear South Burnett Cuisine live on the airwaves at 10:30am every Friday morning. Community radio station Crow FM 90.7 approached me a few weeks ago with the idea of running a regular segment on South Burnett wine and food in their morning show, and the first program went to air on Friday 24th October. From now on - every Friday morning - I'll be part of a live mini show with the station's popular morning announcer David Nugent where we'll be discussing the latest wine and food news from around the South Burnett that's crossed my desk over the preceding week. Crow FM is a community radio broadcaster headquartered in Wondai that reaches a wide audience in the area between Gayndah and the Bunya Mountains. It broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with the help of its dedicated volunteer staff and it's an avid promoter of our region and all the good things that exist here. This latest development follows in the footsteps of my regular column in the South Burnett Adviser which also began featuring articles from this web site in every fortnight's edition earlier this year. Naturally, both Crow FM 90.7 and the South Burnett Adviser can only present a portion of what gets covered online (and believe me - a new story every three days barely scratches the surface of what's happening in South Burnett wine and food sometimes!). But they're certainly wonderful ways to pass on the news to those people who still haven't joined the online revolution. I'm grateful to Crow FM 90.7 for this extra opportunity to reach them.
 

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