Mt. Tamborine is a boutique wine region on an eight kilometer ridge of a mountain chain along the Gold Coast. Since my friend Nidya was celebrating a birthday we rented a limo and headed to the southern hinterlands – up the mountain for some schnapps, wine, beer and cheese tasting to celebrate! I relived what felt like prom, posing for photos out front of the limo before our friendly driver Brian ushered us on our way.
First stop was Mt. Tamborine Distillery. A cute little property tucked back behind black iron gates, the distillery sits amongst gingerbread house style buildings with large black and white spades plastered over the exterior. Vintage gardening tools rest against oak barrels as the fountain trickles calmly in the background. We were greeted instantaneously by the colorful owner Michael and his wife with a rendition of happy birthday played on accordion.
Michael looks a bit like Father Christmas only in his Hawaiian style shirt it all seemed out of place. The eclectic charm of the distillery was a good choice for this first stop as the variety of schnapps in hand painted colorful glass, from wattle toffee to Turkish delight to musk and lemocello (a favorite amongst the group), had given everyone a head start with their buzz so early in the morning. I’m thinking that the champagne we had up the mountain didn’t help either.
I’d recommend a stop here for anyone traveling in the region – polite, unconventional, and fun. The handmade eastern European knickknacks around the shop were enjoyable to browse through and we all left with a little something – whether it is a bottle of schnapps or hand-woven wool hats. But before we got too comfortable it was time to move on.
Witches Falls Winery is one of the most favored in the region. In addition to light and fruity syrahs and sauvignon blancs with hints of capsicum (pepper) and oak they also specialize in batches of wild fermented yeast varieties. A big risk for wine makers because the outcome is so unpredictable however the viognier was one that I couldn’t refuse to take back with me.
Back in town is what is known as Gallery Walk. It’s the closest thing to “downtown” as it gets up in this mountain community, with a strip of art galleries, fudge shops, local craft merchants and handmade goodies all around. Tucked at the top of the street sits Mount Tamborine Brewery. With the small craft brewery on site, this cute stop off is a great place to get lunch, use the toilet (as many of the wineries don’t allow customers to use the restrooms unless there is a restaurant on site – weird!), and sample some of their delicious brews. $10 gets a sampler of 4 beers that the knowledgeable staff helps mix and match based on your preferences for taste. I chose the darker variety which had an awesome Belgian dubbel, black forest German dark beer, a mild lager and strong wheat. Also here is the cheese factory where they make delicious cheese on the premises and may have judged us a little bit for wanting a taste of nearly everything! I have a garlic goat cheese waiting for me to dip into that I’m having hard time not gobbling down instantaneously.
All the champagne, schnapps, wine and beer started getting to our heads so we traveled farther down Gallery Walk to the Mt. Tamborine Winery to
have lunch on large picnic tables outside. The food was a bit disappointing as was the fact there was no actual vineyard. We nibbled on small baguettes, salads and lamb shanks. I find it interesting that lamb shanks in N. America can be quite expensive and only served at certain restaurants where it is a dish that I’m told many Australians have grown up with and I’ve spotted it on menus quite frequently. So, because we were running a bit tight on time we opted to skip the tasting and find a view so we could enjoy the scrumptious looking rocky road cupcakes made by Sharni.
Brian drove us to a lookout point on the side of the mountain where hang gliders often leap from. As the wind blew my hat off of my head and we watched it tumble down the mountain Jacqui caught it in time just before it leaped over the same edge the hang gliders often do. I asked her not to risk if for a $9.99 hat but luckily she was fast! So there we sat, quietly and calmly eating our cupcakes while taking in the breathtaking view and winding down from a very long day which unpredictably was going to be a lot longer. This is where we talked about the damn snakes that don’t give warning. I also asked Brian if this was a popular make out point however I don’t think he heard me because I never got a response.
We turned into the side streets of Paddington, back in Brisbane, bladders nearly busting and contemplated where to take the night. Naps before dinner or shine right through. I think the answer is obvious.
Those with other evening obligations traded spots with some of the guys since they didn’t join on the wine tour and there was no better spot to dine then KimLan in Chinatown. I watched Nidya eat a fried Quail whole – literally, whiling singing the tune “bones bones bones bones bones” as I couldn’t believe it is okay to eat friend bird bones, spine and all. But, I’ll let you judge her for that. Happy Birthday Nidya!