I have always loved wineries and vineyards. There is something about them that denotes cheerfulness, probably because they are commonly visited on weekends or holidays and people tend to let their hair down when tasting wine. Vineyards are always located in the most spectacular positions such as atop a country hill-side or in the hinterland of the ocean. For these reasons, if I ever have a free day with no plans, or perhaps if a rainy day graces us with its presence, I try to visit a vineyard. If you aren't interested in food or wine, vineyards are still wonderful places to visit. You could be seeking a walk in a quiet place and this is one of the many things vineyards provide.
Queensland has a number of fantastic and very successful vineyards but I have a favourite. It is situated in Boonah, a small, peaceful country town, just over an hour out of Brisbane. The winery is called Kooroomba Vineyard and doubles as a Lavender farm. It proudly sits on a very green, well tendered hillside and overlooks the most spectacular mountains, the beginning of the Great Dividing Range. A gorgeous valley separates the winery from the mountains within which a small dam and a few typical Queensland-style farm houses sit. In the surrounding fields cows and sheep graze on the lush, long green grass. As you approach, the building in which the restaurant and wine tasting areas are located, demands attention. It has been masterfully designed to make the most of the position and the views.
Driving up the gravel road and along the rows of grape vines towards the restaurant always makes me most excited. It's as though you have to first appreciate where the wine has come from and then you are able to taste it. The car-park joins a set of steps through a thoughtfully designed landscape area, with tall, slender, somewhat elegant trees, such as Ginkgo Biloba. The entrance is extremely impressive with tall stone walls opposite the masses of available wines to taste. The restaurant area is around the corner and is truly breath-taking when you view it for the first time. Large glass windows skilfully frame the views of the vines, rows of lavender and the mountains beyond. The roof is sky-high making you feel a part of this magnificent landscape. The lavender shop is a short stroll out one of the side doors from the restaurant. Everything sold in here is made from the lavender grown in the fields outside, such as soap, hand-cream, tea and fragrance bags.
The menu is truly delightful and never the same. It offers a great variety of meals suited to any kind of eater. I never can help admiring the desert menu before the mains and starters. It must be my fascination with seeing how they have used the lavender. One visit it will be in the ice-cream and the next visit there will be a fruit tart with lavender infused honey. Whatever the creation, I am always more than satisfied when I taste it. Now this isn't to say that the mains are boring because they definitely are not. The gnocchi always changes as does the fish of the day. After the meal, it is hard not to take a walk through the vines and admire the grapes that have so generously provided you with the most delicious nectar. The smell of lavender fills your nostrils and the constant breeze cools your face.
If you are seeking more than just a great meal and fantastic wine I would still recommend a visit to Boonah. It is a lovely little country town with plenty of Australian history and perfect picnic areas as well as a characteristic Aussie pub called the Doogandan, built during the late 1800s. As well as these options, there are also dams which are popularly used on weekends for water sports. During the cooler months, people enjoy riding their bikes through the mountains. Boonah really is a place suited to anyone and one which any Aussie or foreigner should visit.