Granite Belt winery is a global favourite
BLOOD might be thicker than water but for one family-owned business, it's the nectar of the grapes - flowing with the flavours of fine Fiano - that is connecting the generations and creating the foundation for a thriving Granite Belt winery.
Ballandean Estate Wines, famed for its award-winning alternative varieties, has not only nurtured a flourishing family business, but has now been elevated to world-class status by being awarded second place in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine's Top 50 global wine experiences.
Leeanne Gangemi, whose great-grandad Salvatore Cardillo established the winery in 1930, said the accolade - and coming second to the renowned regions of Italy's Barolo and Barbaresco - was "awesome".
With Facebook and Instagram posts "going nuts" since the announcement, Ms Gangemi said, "It's a feeling that we're getting some recognition".
"We've been open to the public for over 40 years, and the family has worked so hard."
Ms Gangemi and her sister Robyn Henderson, husband Mario, and parents Mary and Angelo Puglisi run the estate. Ms Gangemi said the clan had a reputation for "not being fearful".
With winemaker Dylan Rhymer, who has been with the team for 18 years and is "part of the family", the Ballandean crew are famed for embracing alternative varieties, extending their research with trips to Italy, and exploring the potential of wines that suit the region.
Ms Gangemi said the family had followed the lead of Angelo Puglisi - who in 1977 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study winemaking techniques in Europe - and was "passionate about his vines".
"We've got a really good relationship and we're all heading towards the same goal. I guess we just all love it," she said.
Ms Gangemi said she had to "pinch herself" after reading the review.
"We just want to keep chipping away and doing what we do and keep on doing it better. We are unique and we are producing world-class wines here."
Pioneers in the Queensland wine industry, Ballandean Estate - called Sundown Valley until 1988 - has also won awards for its 2015 Messing About Fiano, 2015 Messing About Saperavi and its 30-year-old Angelas White Liqueur Muscat.
Ms Gangemi said the winery aimed to "stay ahead of the game" and it was this attitude that helped them receive such high acclaim in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine's listing.
The magazine stated: "Ballandean has never rested upon its laurels. Its ground-breaking Opera in the Vineyards is still a major attraction; the restaurant and cellar door has been upgraded; and the family hosts tours to Italy."