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Ewen and the team at Symphony Hill Wines have been our vino-friends since we started Table. We’ve always loved using their wines, knowing there is such a great back-story to what they’re doing. And now we find lots of people asking us about whose wine they should drink if they want to support a local producer. Our answer is a no-brainer!
Queensland’s Granite Belt Wine region is due west of Byron Bay. It is a renowned wine region and is the closest area to us where wine is both grown and made. The region is known for producing alternative variety wines, ones you may not have tried before, as well as some of those we all know and love. And Symphony Hill is one of the most awarded and renowned wineries in the region. James Halliday has rated them as a five star winery for last the last five years. Schmick.
Anyway, the Granite Belt has had its share of weather related challenges over recent times, with drought and fires playing their part in affecting the upcoming vintages. Like the entire country, drought has been a major factor in recent years, but last year’s crop was shaping up well. According to Ewen, the fruit was stunning, and knowing that water stress can actually intensify flavour, things were looking promising. Then a fire went through the region in March 2019, which was almost enough to break the heart. While much of the white crop was unaffected, some of the red grapes were tainted with smoke.
So now it’s all a guessing game for the 2019 vintage. And while the level of detail in Ewen’s knowledge and understanding of the process* belies his computer-programmer background, the part I wanted to know was what will the wine taste like?
Apparently it could range anywhere from licking an ashtray to drinking something beautifully smooth, oaky and lush!
Ewen seemed quietly confident though, so I’m sure that he and the team will pull a rabbit out of the hat. Regardless though, hearing a story like that gives me a new appreciation of the volatility faced by winemakers just as much as any other farmer.
It makes me determined to support a producer who has supported us from the outset.
And in the meantime, keep supporting real people, making real food – and wine – at real places!
* For those scientifically minded, the smoke taint can be both “free” and “bound”, which means some can be removed and some can’t. There’s processes using osmosis and charcoal that can assist this removal, but the outcome is somewhat unpredictable. At least that’s what I learned from chatting with Ewen!