Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wine Tours, Anna's & S' Fire Starter Attempt

Very delayed follow up post to my Stanthorpe adventures so I apologise most sincerely - last week was all about my sis' hens night which swelled to entire weekend proportions so all else was put on hold in the meantime (will post about the hens night after this one is done).
So, where were we? Waiting for the bus to arrive to take us on our wineries tours.

Bob our bus driver (very nice man, request him if you ever book a Filippos Tour) picked us up in a very comfy coach and whisked us to our first winery of the day, Rumbalara. S & I were both nervous as to how we would 'back up' after the night before and sipped our first sample apprehensively. One sip was all I needed to put me back into gear and ready for an entire day of wine tasting.

Rumbalara was a great winery owned by South Africans who named their 5 main wines after the big 5 animals of Africa - Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino. We sampled each and left with 3 bottles of wine and some homemade BBQ sauce/relish. These purchases set the tone for our day.

Next we set off for Granite Belt winery, a kind of tin shed out in the middle of nowhere. Lovely wines plus a very informative guide made for an interesting session. I also discovered that the Granite Belt wineries has predominately selected the Verdelho wine as their signature for the area (I was happy with this as I quite enjoy a verdelho).

More bottles later, we set off for Masons winery where we enjoyed the warmth in a country style cottage and delicious lunch - veg lasagne & salad for me and bangers & mash for S. Feeling quite tipsy after 3 wineries, food was very welcome and we followed this up with a visit to Mt Stirling olives where S made friends with a Basset Hound named Barney.

Castle Glen was also on our itinerary - a large castle like building filled to the brim with liquers of every possible kind! They had Goji berry, curry flavour (ewwwww) and whatever else you could imagine. I'm not a big fan of liquers apart from the odd limoncello so enjoyed sitting on an armchair here near the fireplace.

After the liquers, we visited The Dairy Shop which had a delicious variety of cheeses but I personally didnt enjoy it thanks to odours coming from the cheese room - the fermenting and maturing etc really smells gross.

Last winery of the day, The Summit. S and I especially enjoyed this tasting session as we snagged the table and chairs closest to the fireplace (it was freezing by this stage people, 4pm was way colder than the morning) plus the wines were lovely. I especially enjoyed the sparkling and also the special topshelf sample they provided us - Tempranillo. Its a red spanish grape evidently with a floral kind of flavour. Very different to anything I've tasted and S surprised me by purchasing a bottle of this for us to enjoy in the future.

It was 6pm by the time we got back to our accommodation and we were both completely exhausted but I insisted we keep our dinner booking at Annas, a local italian restaurant highly recommended by locals and tourists alike.

Prior to dinner though, it was important to get some feeling back into our limbs and warmth in our cabin so S got to work building and lighting a fire. This was entertaining to the max with him fussing but not really knowing how to go about it. We had a small block of firestarter which S used to get the flames going and we left for dinner with a warm fire burning.

Anna's was amazing! A big old restored Queenslander with fireplaces dotted all around. There were some 200 people seated to dine and a delicious Italian buffet laid out. No pasta or pizza, instead we had stuffed mushrooms, zucchini flowers, fresh gnocchi, antipasto platters, mussels, arancini, rib eye marsala and much more. S and I stuffed ourselves silly with the yummiest of foods and got out of there to get home to our fire.

We walked in and our fire was dead! By this stage I was so tired and just wanted bed so told S not to worry and to just get in bed and warm it up for me. S decided though that he really wanted a fire so after ages of trying to use a lighter to spark a log (didn't work needless to say) he decided to drive and find a service station to get some more firestarter. I curled up on the lounge to watch the channel 9 election coverage and S returned quickly with a whole block of firestarter which he broke into pieces and threw into the fire (all of it!). Quite quickly, the fire was raging so strong and hot that our cabin was like a sauna and I could hardly breath.

Of course this didnt last and I woke up at 2am freezing cold and muscle sore from holding myself rigid. I next awoke at 8:30am but refused to leave bed till 9:30am when it was a bit warmer (not by much though). Dressing as quickly as possible, S and I left and set out to find breakfast. We ended up out the back of nowhere at Ballandean winery which conveniently had a cafe/restaurant where we enjoyed a yummy hot cooked brekky and followed it up with some wine tasting and buying - best Merlot.

It was then time for home and the scenic drive passed quickly with S and I exclaiming it felt like we had been away for a week when we walked in our front door.

People, you must visit Stanthorpe, even just for a mini break like ours. So much to do, see and enjoy.

ps. we came home with 13 bottles of wine and a large selection of relishes, sauces and condiments.

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