When is a bird not a bird?
Strange Bird isn’t actually a bird…It’s a wine trail, The Granite Belt Strange Bird Wine Trail.
But not just any wine trail – it’s a route through the unusual varieties of wine produced in Southern Queensland Country’s Granite Belt region.
If you think chardonnay and shiraz are the bomb, be ready to be blown away here.
You may not have heard of tannat, petit verdot, gewurztraminer or durif (they’re certainly harder to pronounce than they are to drink), but wine critics and judges, James Halliday included, are singing the praises of this region’s alternative lesser-known varieties.
What makes a Strange Bird?
To be considered alternative, a variety must represent not more than 1% of the total bearing vines in Australia as defined by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.
You see, the region’s unique terroir (the particular characteristics of the geography, geology and climate of a place and how they interact with the vines) equals unusual wines.
You won’t find most of these labels in bottle shops and restaurants because production is boutique and small-run bottlings mean you can only taste or buy them at the cellar door or by special order.
Stick to the trail and you’ll taste some 20 varieties of Strange Bird wine, receive a great education in boutique wine making and food matching, and meet the passionate custodians of the vines who see the grapes through from planting to tending and finally to vintage.
Where can you find the Strange Bird varieties?
Jester Hill Wines – Petit verdot, Sangiovese, Roussanne
Symphony Hill Wines – Petit verdot, Tempranillo, Viognier, Petit manseng
Ballandean Estate – Fiano, Malbec, Durif, Saperavi, Sylvaner, Viognier
Golden Grove Estate – Barbera, Durif, Malbec, Mourvedre, Nero d’Avola, Tempranillo, Vermentino
Queensland College of Wine Tourism – Marsanne
Ridgemill Estate – Jacquez, Saperavi, Tempranillo, Verdelho, Viognier, Mourvedre
Stray off the trail and you’ll discover local restaurants whose menus feature seasonal produce sourced from nearby farms and artisan cheese, chocolate and preserve makers more than willing to let you try before you buy.