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Queensland is twice blessed. Not only does the State have an abundance of superb produce, but outstanding wines – something that makes the job of seeking out local wine suppliers for Queensland Parliament House and Strangers’ Restaurant, a fortuitously easy task.

In the small, high-altitude town of Ballandean outside Stanthorpe on Queensland’s Granite Belt, Golden Grove is one of the region’s oldest family-owned wineries, established by Italian immigrants and fruit growers Mario and Nita Costanza in 1946. The couple would ferment their excess grapes into a rustic wine, selling it in 200-litre drums to the local Italian community.

These days, the vines planted on the estate are wine, rather than table grapes, with third generation winemaker Ray Costanza taking over the reins from his father Sam in 2002.

Ray’s passion and expertise, including doing vintages overseas, as well as experience gained in wineries in South Australia and New South Wales, has seen him acknowledged as one of Queensland’s most highly-respected winemakers. Last year, in fact, he received the accolade of “Queensland Winemaker of the Year” for the fourth time at the Queensland Wine Awards, with his wines also taking home a swag of awards, 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.”

With a growing interest in alternate varietals and low-intervention winemaking techniques, Ray and his wife Jen launched a second label in 2021 – Storm King Wine Co with wines made using the same high-quality Golden Grove fruit.

“I’ve always had a propensity to experiment with different wines and I turned back to a more natural style of winemaking which didn’t necessarily fit with what we were doing at Golden Grove, so we thought we’d create our own little brand,” Ray says.

With an ethos that aligns with Queensland Parliament’s own values, Strangers’ Restaurant is proud to be partnering with Ray, Golden Grove and Storm King Wine Co for a very special degustation dinner with the winemaker himself in attendance.

Named for Storm King Dam, where the couple live in an off-grid, solar-powered house, the label is an extension of their passion for sustainability, made in small volumes, with minimal intervention and bottle labels created from recycled grape waste.

So what can diners expect?
It’s really a showcase of my ability as a winemaker, with traditional styles from Golden Grove Estate and more left-of-centre wines from Storm King Wine Co – a really good mix of white, reds and fortified as well as the sparkling vermentino, all partnered to a fantastic menu.” Ray says. “It’s such a privilege to be asked and Jen and I are both really looking forward to it.

Tickets for the event have now sold out, however you can stay updated on the latest events here.

Find out more about Golden Grove Estate and Storm King Wine Co.