TRAVEL: The South Burnett shows off some fine vines
ALTHOUGH Kingaroy and the South Burnett have long been known as the home of quality peanut products, a closer look quickly reveals a much more diverse feast for the traveller's tastebuds.
Nestled in the tranquil countryside and only minutes from the heart of Kingaroy is row upon row of some of the state's finest vines.
The region's Mediterranean climate is ideal for grapevines, so it's no wonder the South Burnett has become home to many winemakers eager to capture a unique Queensland flavour in a pleasing range of reds and whites.
In terms of food, the region is also home to many locally grown gourmet products and boutique farming operations that include beans, capers and more. The area is also a pork hub, with the country's largest pig processing plant, Swickers, in Kingaroy.
Country pubs and restaurants are spread across scenic locations in the region and have taken advantage of the quality produce to dish out great meals.
Naturally, peanuts remain a big part of the region and the vast array of products that continue to be crafted from the humble legume is mind-boggling. There's flavoured peanuts, peanut oils, and even peanut flavoured liqueurs.
All of this combined with the classic peace and quiet of the countryside transforms the South Burnett into a great escape for the food and wine lover.
As I recently discovered, the burgeoning food and wine scene in the South Burnett is an experience worthy of a weekend trip, with visitors like myself taken on a joyride of the senses as they wine, dine and recharge.
There is plenty of accommodation in town for those eager to explore the South Burnett, and more private and homely settings are only a few minutes away.
If you're chasing something that truly captures a country feel, Deshons Retreat is worth a look. On the Booie Range, the self-contained room is completely isolated to provide visitors with their own private piece of the countryside with amazing views. I found it a great escape from the hustle and bustle of life and the ultimate base from which to explore the region.
It's not far to the first stop on the wine trail either, with Crane Wines only a short walk or drive away. It is a fitting introduction to the region's wines because Crane was the first winery to open its doors in the South Burnett.
Further up the road is the Cassis restaurant with local wines and a delectable feast of food crafted from local produce. For those seeking a unique fine dining experience, Cassis's menu will surely please you, as it did me.
Tasting great wine is one thing but learning more about the meticulous process behind each flavour helps people truly appreciate the efforts of local winemakers.
Kingsley Grove Estate is a family-owned and operated winery, with the entire picking, fermenting and bottling process done on the property.
Jo and Simon Berry, who have taken on the family business, are keen to share the process behind some of the great wines of the South Burnett.
Being a novice in the realm of good wine, I found the tour to be an interesting eye-opener into the tireless efforts behind producing a good drop. The experience was enhanced with a tasting of some of the winery's best reds and whites. Their Queensland Sunset and Queensland Green are two wines worth a taste.
As I quickly learned during my trip, the South Burnett's climate mirrors that of the Mediterranean, producing the ideal place to grow verdelho grapes. So much so that verdelho wine is a must-have for any South Burnett winery.
Moffatdale Ridge near Lake Barambah is an award-winning winery that produces a particularly great verdelho that is worth a taste at their cellar door while on your travels.
Nearby is the South Burnett's largest winery, Clovely Estate, as well as Dusty Hill Vineyard.
With local wineries also home to cellar doors and even restaurants, it's not hard for even an amateur foodie such as myself to broaden the palate and have a good time doing so.
When it comes to food and wine, the South Burnett has plenty to enjoy, and it can be hard to get a true taste for it all in one visit. However, this is where local business Taste South Burnett steps in.
In Kingaroy, Taste South Burnett is a gold mine of local wine and produce, ensuring that no matter how long your stay, you leave having garnered a full taste of everything the region has to offer.
The writer was a guest of Southern Queensland Country Tourism.