The People: Meet your makers

They may not quite be Gods, but on the Granite Belt we worship our makers anyway! The food and wine produced on the Granite Belt is lovingly made by real people. Whether it's a banker or lawyer who decided life in the slow lane was a better option, or a fifth generation farmer who diversified to save the family farm, each of our producers has a story to tell. What's more, they're happy to share it with you. Meet some of our makers ...

 

 ballandean  

Ballandean Estate

Leeanne Gangemi and Robyn Henderson, daughters of the infamous Angelo Puglisi, are both passionate advocates of Ballandean. They spent their childhoods working with their parents in all aspects of the business and are happy to share their extensive knowledge of the history of the region with guests. Apart from being the pillars of the Granite Belt Wine industry, this family has donated a considerable amount to charitable causes through their annual events. See also winemaker Dylan Rhymer below.

     
 boireann  

Boireann Winery

Peter Stark is an ex-banker drawn to the region by the cool climates and opportunity to make great wine, a passion driven simply for the love of good red wine. While meticulous attention to the grapes may help explain why Boireann is now a favourite of James Halliday, it may be the Pink Floyd that Peter listens to while winemaking that makes all the difference!

     
 bungawarra  

Bungawarra Winery

Bungawarra Winery is one of the oldest vineyards around Stanthorpe (dating back more than 100 years) and was purchased by the Harden family in August 1993. A career change beckoned when pharmacist Jeff Harden seized his dream in 1993 when one of the region's oldest vineyards, Bungawarra Winery, came on the market. Bungawarra began as a dream and became the centre of Jeff's life. Apart from wine his other passion is literature, and the two come together each year around November when the "Shakespeare under the Stars" series takes place at the winery.

     
 rudy-mazar  

Casita de Campo

Meet Rudy Mazar from Casita de Campo and Westlake Studio who creates pottery and stone art work with local granite from his property.

     
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Castle Glen Australia

Determined to create All Natural Preservative Free Wines, Cedric Millar, Castle Glen’s Wine Maker, oversees all of the growing and production at Castle Glen Australia. The vines at Castle Glen Vineyard were planted in 1990 and Cedric has been making the wine with the many different varieties of grapes since the first harvest in 1994. Diversification came early, venturing into fruit wines and liqueurs made from fresh local produce. Traditional English Style Liqueurs and the ‘World First’ Crème Liqueurs have followed to become part of a range of 500 plus truly unique products including the “Pecan & Hazelnut Liqueur” which won a Gold Medal – Grand Champion Liqueur.

 

     
 granitebelt-brewery  

Granite Belt Brewery

Meet the Davenports. Geoff has always been very passionate about beer. He and his wife Dee lived in the UK for many years prior to having a family and trying new ales was always something they loved to do. Geoff's father, Mike was also a very keen home brewer and Geoff enjoyed helping him with his hobby. Before moving to the Granite Belt, Geoff Davenport was a business analyst in various locations including Brisbane, Canberra and the UK. They promptly decided on a tree change and purchased Happy Valley Retreat in 2009. When plans for Granite Belt Brewery were under way, Geoff flew to Western Australia and completed a brewing course at Edith Cowan University.

     
 dylan-rhymer  

Dylan Rhymer

Winemaker Dylan Rhymer developed a passion for winemaking after participating in a wine appreciation course, which prompted a move to Hawkes Bay where he then became a "Flying Winemaker" following the vintages and wine seasons around the world before settling in the Granite Belt with wife Paola.

     
   

Stanthorpe Cheese

Meet Karen Deeth from Stanthorpe Cheese, who turned an overmilking mummy cow into the Granite Belt's first and only farmhouse dairy. She started making cheese in her home kitchen about 15 years ago when she had a Jersey x Freisian cow who gave her about 30 litres of milk every day, which was too much for her calf. So Karen got some books from the library and started experimenting with various cheese recipes.

     
 jim-barnes  

Jim Barnes

Jim Barnes is perhaps one of the most respected winemakers in the region, always giving up his time to progress the industry or help out another winemaker. Perhaps his teaching background explains this. "After teaching for many years I turned to wine – who wouldn't?" he is quoted as saying. Along with fellow burly winemaker Peter McGlashen he instigated and brought to fruition the highly successful Granite Belt Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail marketing concept.

     
 Mike and Tony at crusher-resized  

Just Red Wines

Winemaking is very much a family business at Just Red Wines. Tony and son Michael have been making wines together since Michael was knee high to a grasshopper. Both are qualified winemakers and both have graduate diplomas in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in New Zealand. Their first vintage was back in New Zealand in 1993. After five vintages in New Zealand they 'saw the light' and came to the wonderful Granite Belt to set up Just Red Wines. They have now been making 'Just Red Wines' since 2003.

     
 pyramids-road  

Pyramids Road Wines

Meet Sue & Warren Smith, owners of Pyramids Road Wines. What do you do when you want to live on a dirt road and are tired of your current teaching and house building jobs? You go back to University, sell your house and move to the Granite Belt to buy a property of course. Warren and Sue's passion for winemaking is not likely to be forgotten after a visit to their cellar door. And you certainly won't forget the beard!

     
 peter-mcglashan  

Ridgemill Estate

Peter McGlashan is a testament to the saying "find something you love doing and you won't work another day of your life". Coming from a background in hospitality, he moved to the Granite Belt 17 years ago. During this time he has worked with two of the founding wine families of the region which only inspired him to make his own mark. Along with fellow local Jim Barnes, Peter's undeniable passion for the region saw them establish the Strange Bird Wine Trail which has now become a Granite Belt wine region icon.

     
 suttons  

 Sutton's Juice Factory, Cidery & Shed Café

An ex fisherman, Dave Sutton bought his apple orchard in 1994, at a time when many were trying to get out of farming. When apple prices plummeted, he knew he would have to diversify and his first foray was into apple cider, followed by varietal apple juice, which he tested on customers at farmer's markets. Now producing award winning cider, apple juice and famous apple pies, the Sutton's are the epitome of honest growers who adapted to a new life in hospitality.

     
 lucas-estate  

Lucas Estate

Louise Samuel considers herself to be the 'accidental winemaker' and is happy to explain that she does have an Honours Degree... but it has nothing to do with wine. Louise's husband, Col Sellers, was the one with the dream of making wine and Louise's painting ability fitted in with their joint dream of a winery with a cellar door and gallery. Sadly Colin died in 2008 and Louise was forced to carry on alone. Louise is a lady who does everything at full speed... has to as she covers everything from the vineyard to the marketing.

     
 mallow  

Mallow Lamb

Meet Andrew Ferrier who turned a disastrous drop in wool prices into award winning sustainable, and humane organic lamb production. Andrew spends the majority of his time now working the complete food chain – from breeding lambs, managing their health & welfare, fattening on organic high nutrient pasture to packaging and labelling the final product and selling to customers, outlets & restaurants in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast , Gold Coast and locally.

     
 ewan  

Symphony Hills Wines

Owner Ewen MacPherson is a perfectionist who turned his neurosis and viticulture studies into the production of ultra-premium quality wine that has since won numerous awards nationally.

     
 mike-hayes  

Symphony Hills Wines

Symphony Hill's winemaker, Mike Hayes has worked in 16 regions, 4 states and 2 countries in the wine industry and has been involved with all aspects of production. If you're really lucky, you'll catch Mike harvesting some of his grapes in the nude during a full moon to revive an ancient winemaking ritual.

     
 tim-coelli  

Twisted Gum Wines

Tim and Michelle Coelli's passion for both wine and sustainabale agriculture combine at their Eukey vineyard. Press Tim and Michelle for the secrets to the success of their sustainable vineyard practices, involving the use of birdlife to replace pesticides and careful mulching instead of irrigation.