On Friday 25 August, Queensland Parliament’s Strangers’ Restaurant showcased the state’s finest produce to a capacity crowd at the sold-out degustation dinner. The thoughtfully curated menu took center stage, combining gastronomic delight with the artistry of two Queensland wineries – Golden Grove Estate and Storm King Wine Co. These wineries, nestled in the idyllic environs of Ballandean, near Stanthorpe, highlight the state’s abundant offerings.
A Rich History and a Passionate Legacy
Golden Grove Estate, founded in 1946 by Italian immigrants Mario and Nita Costanza, has deep roots with the region’s history. Initially fermenting excess grapes into rustic wine for the local Italian community, the winery has evolved over generations. Today, third-generation winemaker Ray Costanza, who took over in 2002, stands at the helm, blending traditional winemaking techniques with a modern approach.
Ray’s dedication and expertise, fostered through vintages abroad and experiences in wineries across Australia, have earned him the title of one of Queensland’s most highly-respected winemakers. Last year, he was named “Queensland Winemaker of the Year” for the fourth time at the Queensland Wine Awards, a testament to his commitment to producing exceptional wines. The accolades don’t stop there – his wines have consistently garnered recognition, including “Champion Wine of the Show” for the 2022 Vermentino, “Champion Emerging Variety Red” for the 2022 Joven Tempranillo, “Champion Mainstream Red Variety” for the winery’s 2021 Shiraz and Golden Grove itself being crowned “QLD Winery of the Year.”
From Tradition to Experimentation: The Birth of Storm King Wine Co
In the spirit of embracing alternative varietals and low-intervention winemaking, Ray and his wife Jen launched Storm King Wine Co in 2021. This venture allows them to explore their passion for sustainability and experiment with different winemaking styles while staying true to their commitment to excellence. The name “Storm King” pays homage to Storm King Dam, where the couple resides in an off-grid, solar-powered house.
An Unforgettable Culinary Journey
The five-course menu, curated to celebrate the best of Queensland’s wines and cuisine, delighted attendees with an exploration of flavours and textures.
From the Sparkling Prelude featuring the Chef’s selection of appetisers with the elegance of the 2019 Sparkling Vermentino, to the Coastal Symphony’s pairing of braised octopus with the refreshing 2022 Vermentino, the courses unfolded like a symphony of taste experiences.
Oceanic Delight offered a grilled Mooloolaba prawn paired with the light and sharp 2023 Rose, while the Veg and Vine course showcased a roast eggplant dish accompanied by the bold and expressive 2021 Shiraz.
As the night progressed, guests were treated to a Savoury Haven of forty-eight hour roasted Darling Downs Wagyu short rib, enhanced by the exquisite flavors of the 2021 Storm King Wine Co. Mataro Graciano.
And for the Sweet Finale, a decadent dark chocolate mousse complemented by the velvety 2006 Rare Tawny brought the evening to a satisfying close.
A Privileged Partnership
The event was more than just an assembly of flavours; it was a tapestry woven between our cuisine and the Granite Belt vinous creations. The collaboration between Strangers’ Restaurant and Golden Grove Estate, coupled with Storm King Wine Co.’s innovative spirit, delivered an evening that celebrated not just the wines and cuisine, but the values that both these establishments hold. Queensland Parliament House’s commitment to excellence and sustainability aligned seamlessly with Ray and Jen’s approach to winemaking, making this event not just a culinary delight, but a celebration of shared values.