Usually during a cyclone people choose to batten down the hatches and wait until it passes, but not us. Not even ex-tropical cyclone Owen could keep us from visiting the many wineries of Mt Tamborine on a full day tasting experience, lead by our enthusiastic guide, Pete, from Pineapple Tours.
Once the mini-bus was full of passengers we set off towards Tamborine Mountain, reaching the first winery after about an hour of slightly treacherous uphill driving - worth it for the amazing views at the top. Mason Wines was established in 1997 and grows its grapes in the Granite Belt region of Queensland, a common practice for many Tamborine Mountain wineries as the volcanic soil makes wine production difficult - but not impossible as we would find out. As the rain poured outside we stayed in their cosy cellar door sampling two of their signature whites, rosés, and reds, including a gold award winning Shiraz Cabernet. Pete took us through the flavour notes of each wine and tailored the tastings to what he thought we'd like, which was a nice touch!
Up next was Witches Falls Winery, a beautiful estate with an outdoor seating area overlooking the vines and avocado trees. Witches Falls is known for its Granite Belt Saigneé and Wild Ferment Tempranillo which were both incredible, but I also particularly liked their slightly sparkling Moscato - what can I say, I have a sweet tooth! As Pete was pouring the reds we were presented with a cheeseboard to nibble on, complementing the wines perfectly (because cheese complements everything let's be honest). After the tasting we had a quick look round the barrel room and press cylinders, before jumping back on the bus for winery number three.
Hampton Estate Wines' main building boasts unbelievable mountain views and a fascinating history, having originally been a church that was saved from Burleigh and restored in Mt Tamborine to its former glory. As well as producing fantastic wine, the estate also hosts weddings and has a large restaurant overlooking the valley, perfect for enjoying delicious food whilst admiring the stunning scenery - which is exactly what we did! Pete headed up the tasting session again starting us off with a sweet sparkling rosé (he knew what we liked by this point), as well as Hampton's Classic White, my personal favourite; their Sauvignon Blanc, a surprisingly good Chardonnay Verdelho (I'm not usually a Chardonnay fan!), their Classic Red, and a GSM red 'Afternoon Style'. On the menu for lunch was a choice of lamb, chicken, grilled halloumi, salmon, or squid, plus vegan and gluten free options, then a salted caramel creme pudding for dessert. I went for the salmon which was a great choice, but every dish looked amazing!
The fourth and final winery on the tour was Cedar Creek Estate, a sprawling winery that features an art gallery, a wedding venue, and even a glow-worm cave! On our tasting list was their pink Moscato, a deliciously smooth NV Brut Reserve, the decadent Claret Ash Cabernet Merlot, and even a special taste of their famous Cedar Crème - "like Baileys but better!". That concluded the winery part of our tour, but up next was Castle Glen Australia, an immense labyrinth of liqueurs and fortified wines that glittered from hundreds of glass bottles in every colour of the rainbow. Forget kids in candy stores, we were like adults in a liqueur store! We were welcome to try as many samples as we liked, which including interesting flavours like lavender, fig, pecan, and even jellybean!
Back on the bus we made a quick stop at Witches Chase Cheese for some samples of their amazing craft cheese, before reaching our final destination; Granny Macs Fudge Store. With flavours ranging from watermelon to bubblegum and a whole variety of classics like salted caramel and chocolate, Granny Macs is a haven for sweet-tooth sufferers. We tasted as much as we wanted, then after realising just how good this fudge is, everyone on the tour bought some! Drinking wine all day makes you peckish, who knew?
The return trip back to Gold Coast was a hazy fudge-induced coma that had absolutely nothing to do with all the wine we'd been drinking, and seemed to take half the amount of time as the outward journey. To say we were satiated would be an understatement! The Mt Tamborine Winery Tour is an amazing day out to share with friends and family, ideal for celebrating special occasions and experiencing the best of south Queensland's winelands. Huge thanks to Pete for a thoroughly entertaining and informative day out, and big thanks to drunk-me for buying sober-me loads of fudge!