A tree change may sound blissful, if not idyllic to those of us who become jaded by the traffic snarls of a peak hour commute or the hectic pace of 21st century business life but to former Sunshine Coast locals, Warren and Sue Smith, it was a dream that was to become a reality when they packed up and moved to the Granite Belt in 1999. For Sue, giving up her career as a school teacher was a small price to pay for the halcyon lifestyle of living on a vineyard and spending her time pruning, training and nurturing vines. And to Warren, a bit of hard labour was a panacea for the accumulated frustration of a working life in suburbia and a welcome opportunity to grow the kind of ziff that a counter-culture hipster would be proud of!
Set at an elevation of about 750 metres, the Pyramids Road vineyards are nearby to the Girraween National Park and only about 20 minutes to the south of Stanthorpe. Although Warren and Sue focus their efforts on red varietals in the vineyard, they do use locally grown grapes to make a Chardonnay and their iconic Verdehlo. Close your eyes and you could almost believe that you were sipping a white on the Portuguese Island of Madeira. Delicious layers of pineapple, tropical fruits and red grapefruit engulf the palate while a crisp acidity tightens the lingering finale.
Bernie’s Blend 2017
But for me, it’s the Bernie’s Blend 2017 that is destined to become the stable star. It’s a blend of Merlot (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and Petit Verdot (20%) all of which is grown on the vineyard, caressed through the picking process, basket pressed and aged in French and American Oak before being released. In the glass the violet and lavender hue is almost iridescent, while on the plate the dense red berries and liquorice characters make a formidable pairing. You won’t be able to help but delight in the toasty oak nuances and savour the vanillin undercurrents that propel a lifted and complex conclusion. Beef short ribs anyone?
And perhaps best of all, the Pyramids Road Winery experience is only a short four-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast; could there be a better time than September to pay a visit?