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Snob-free zone: How Granite Belt has uncorked a new generation of wine drinkers


Generation Next is backing Queensland wine in a way their parents never did and the industry appears to be enjoying a golden era as tourists flock to the Granite Belt.

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The drought, COVID-19, China trade bans and bushfires were big hits to some producers in Australia but Queensland is flourishing.

And according to the industry the 2020 vintage is high quality and in high quantity so 2022 should be a bumper year for wine drinkers.

Demand is also strong for innovative, new wines and the very nature of the Queensland sector – small and independent – meant it has escaped the wrath of China’s trade bans that hit the likes of Penfold and Treasury Wines.

Younger consumers were also seeking out something different. Andrew Corrigan, who part-owns the Hidden Creek vineyard in the Granite Belt and is president of the Queensland Wine Industry Association, as well as one of only 409 Masters of Wine in the world, said there was a whole generation of people who had never drunk beer and were now seeking out something different.

“Their first alcoholic drink was probably wine and they stick with it. They have never drunk a XXXX or gone into a hotel bar in their life,’’ Corrigan said.

“They don’t have the same perspective on wines and they don’t know that Queensland is not automatically thought of as being a wine region. It doesn’t worry them. They don’t care about tradition and track record.

“Whereas the conservative wine buyers are the opposite. They seek out big brands. They like Rosemount, Brown Brothers, Penfolds and Wolf Blass. If they haven’t heard of it they won’t buy it.

“The younger ones don’t buy brands, they buy a variety and a region or they will say they like cold climate chardonnay.

“That means younger wine buyers don’t have any prejudice whereas older buyers laugh about Queensland wine because they think they are talking about something made of mango and pineapple. A bit like the jokes the English used to make about Australian wines when they talked about Wallaby White and Kangarouge.

“Exactly what they said about Australian wine is exactly what is being said by older, conservative consumers about Queensland wines. Even that is changing a bit.’’

He said there had been a maturing among consumers. 

“They don’t mind buying something they don’t know and there is a bit of a younger consumer market and they drive the interest in innovative emerging wines. 

“They are the ones that drive the cloudy wines and the eco wines that are popular in the trendy wine bars, particularly in Melbourne.

“They spurn the wines like Penfolds and wouldn’t be seen dead drinking Grange even though it is incredibly expensive because they think it’s what their father drank and they automatically don’t want to drink it.

“It’s quite a big movement and they are keen on emerging varieties.’’

He said the premium Granite Belt producers were not selling to China and found that they could readily sell their production at a pretty good price to the local market, which was essentially the Brisbane corporate market, cellar door and mail order.

“One of the main reasons the Granite Belt has done well is there is a significant connection between the financial and business circles in Brisbane and Queensland wines.

“It’s not uncommon to find the partner of a law firm or accounting firm or stockbroker or, in my case the construction industry, having a stake in a Granite Belt producer.’’

He said the drought which ran over three year up until rains returned in 2020 meant a lot of producers ran out of wine but production is back and demand is strong and consumers had to be quick to get some of the premium product.

“They sell out. If you want to get the ones that win medals at wines shows you have to move pretty quick.’’

Even in southern markets there was serious demand for labels that can’t be bought in the mass market bottle shops. Some have a waiting list to get on the mail order list.

Now there was a strong demand for premium Australian wines in the UK market which was helping the bigger producers.

Corrigan said the accommodation on the Granite Belt vineyards was also going “gangbusters’’. 

“We have a couple of cottages and they are booked out seven nights a week until mid August and weekends are booked until October so if you want to take a break up there you have to book four months out for a weekend stay,’’ he said

“Covid brought it on when the borders were closed but even after they opened the borders people are holidaying in Queensland and going on trips they would not have thought of before.”


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