The Sunshine Coast – home to beautiful beaches,  rolling hinterland hills, lush forests, fantastic locally farmed produce and wine.

Yes, you read that right. Wine. The foundation of an emerging industry that, with a little love, dedication and support, could become another feather in the Coast’s tourism cap.

Here, among the region’s sprawling vines, growers are finding success thanks to the high altitude and cool microclimate – a recipe that has weaved magic in other areas  of the sunshine state.

Southeast Queensland is fast becoming a national and internationally recognised producer of all things vino.

Launched in 2020, the Vine and Shine Trail connects around 70 wineries, vineyards and cellar doors across Queensland, winding its way from the Gold Coast Hinterland out to the Granite Belt and up to the Sunshine Coast.

While the impacts of the pandemic and subsequent economic times have hit the industry hard, resulting in a number of cellar door closures across the country, there is still a plethora of vineyards producing top drops.

The Australian wine industry’s rich history stems back 160 years, with growers producing shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, as well as less-known varieties, including vermentino, fiano and saperavi.

And while the Granite Belt is considered Queensland’s premier wine district, the Sunshine Coast’s own wine scene has the potential to flourish, according to long-time grower Tony Thompson.

“It comes down to sensible investors and the right qualified people being involved.” Tony cuts straight to the point. His instinct for business is as bold and fruitful as the wine he produces.

“You’ve got to be really good at growing grapes.

“Sunshine Coast wines are really well received. More and more people are becoming interested in Queensland wine,” he tells salt. With a laugh, he adds, “Now, we need to get as many people interested in Queensland wine as there are interested in the NRL.”

He points to the region’s rich soil as a firm foundation for harvesting a successful crop. “The soil conditions make grape growing doable. You just have to target the right grape varieties and have the right people around you.

“The main part of what I do is control the viticulture. If you don’t have great grapes, you won’t have great wine.”

Given that Tony’s business, Flame Hill Vineyard, has served up winning drop after winning drop, it’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing.

Flame Hill is home to two cellar doors and three vineyards. Unlike others who don’t grow and harvest their own grapes, Tony’s Montville property is home to 5000 plants.

The grapes are handpicked and then processed at Flame Hill’s Severn vineyard, which is located along the Granite Belt. The business’s fortified wines are made here on the Coast.

Tony purchased the Montville farm back in 2007 before adding two more properties to his portfolio – Kurrajong in 2012 and the Severn vineyard in 2022.

In total, he has around 70,000 plants and all of the wines are produced in southeast Queensland.

“All you can do is do your best to be consistent, give people good experiences, communicate well with people,  try and have the right staff in the right places,” Tony says.

“I’m so confident with our wine that I’d back it against any wine, anywhere.” Sounds good to us!

What better time to explore the Sunshine Coast’s wine trail than on a beautiful winter’s day? Let’s go.

 

WOONGOOROO ESTATE – Kilcoy

Open by appointment, woongoorooestate.com

Located just 45 minutes south of Caloundra, this family-owned and operated vineyard has been a labour of love for retired school teachers Phil and Gail Close.

The couple, who purchased the 16-hectare Kilcoy property 45 years ago, planted their first vines back in the year 2000.

At the height of their production, they tended to 5000 plants, ranging from chardonnay and semillon varieties to verdelho, shiraz, merlot and cabernet franc.

Last year, the Closes decided it was time to say goodbye to the art of viticulture.

“We are retiring and putting our feet up to drink all of the wine,” Phil laughs.

While Woongooroo is now closed to the general public, it is open by appointment for groups of 10 or more people.

The estate hosts bus tours and social and club events and is also available for intimate wine and cheese tastings, which highlight Maleny and Kenilworth produce. Participants will learn how to recognise the characteristics of grape varieties, how to pair food and wine and how to taste wine “the way the experts do”.

 

THE BARREL @ CLOUDS VINEYARD – Maleny

Open Friday to Monday, 10am to 4pm,  cloudsretreats.com.au/the-barrel

There could not be a more iconic hinterland location than the big barrel located on the outskirts of Maleny. Although The Barrel team does not produce their own wine, they still serve up a great drop.

For $22, visitors can experience The Barrel Range wine tasting, which includes a chardonnay, shiraz rose, shiraz and merlot. All of the Clouds-labelled wines are from southeast Queensland, predominantly from the Granite Belt.

Lap up the winter sun at one of the big outdoor timber tables or take a stroll through the vineyard before settling in for lunch.

 

FLAME HILL VINEYARD – Montville

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm,

flamehill.com.au

This award-winning winery offers tastings, as well as a dining experience and boutique accommodation. The kitchen team sources local produce (they even grow their own herbs) to dish up a true paddock-to-plate experience. The deck and terrace provide an outlook over the sprawling vineyard, offering beautiful views.

A selection of white and red varieties are grown at the Montville property and harvested depending on growth and weather. These estate-grown wines include a refreshing verdelho, crisp chardonnay, barbera and red-favourite shiraz. If you need a wider selection, there’s good news as the local cellar door stocks wines from all three of Flame Hill’s southeast Queensland vineyards. You’ll even find the 2023 Australian Small Winemakers Show bronze-medal verdejo, barbera and sauvignon blanc varieties.

Recommendation: The Montville-grown verdelho is a fresh, fruity white and a great match for a long lunch or picnic. The Severn-grown lagrein is a trophy winner and is available to purchase on the Sunshine Coast.

 

DINGO CREEK VINEYARD – Traveston

Open Friday to Sunday, 11am-5pm, dingocreek.com.au

Located on a quiet piece of countryside, only thirty minutes from the hustle and bustle of Noosa, Dingo Creek offers interactive wine tastings, meals and picnic baskets, all by appointment.

We recommend reserving your place for the ‘picnic in the vines’ experience, which includes a beautiful grazing platter boasting locally cured meats, bread, cheeses, fruit and crackers, plus a bottle of wine (of course) enjoyed at a designated table overlooking the vineyard. Songbird, serenity and a glass of sparkling shiraz – bliss.

Alternatively, visitors can simply stop by the cellar door to browse the range.

Top drop: The cabernet sauvignon merlot is a great drop for winter nights.