Pulling up to the Sirromet winery, located only 40 minutes from Brisbane yet almost three hours from the Granite Belt region, our group of pre-conference excursion travelers immediately knew this was a different beast.
Sirromet has an outstanding setting with beautiful lawns, manicured vineyards, a first-class restaurant, picnic benches with a small playground, and glamping (glamorous camping) on its property. There are even chairs for weddings and conferences in its production facility. It is a world apart from the wineries we visited in the Granite Belt region.
At the same time, it was clear to our group that Sirromet is helping to lead Queensland wine into the future. With 40% of the state’s production, Sirromet is critical based on size alone. The winery also exports 50% of its production, which is important to the reputation of Queensland wine.
Yet the winery sources sources 98% of its grapes from its own vineyards in the Granite Belt region and the lead winemaker and viticulturist, Mike Hayes, is a local boy bred and raised. Sirromet quite clearly is out to support the greater good of the Queensland wine industry.
But the story is deeper. If you talk for more than two minutes with Mr. Hayes, you will get a clear sense of his passion and commitment. You will also very likely hear of his belief that global climate change is real, that the wine industry must adapt, and that to do so wineries need to introduce new grape varietals that survive and thrive under the new conditions. He is committed to making sure Sirromet and Queensland are leading that charge.
This is a bit of a challenging viewpoint, since Australia has thrived by growing and selling more typical grape varietals. Yet Mike has some serious credentials. Consider:
- Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology 2017 Australian Winemaker of the Year.
- Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern Queensland
- Masters Professional Studies in Emerging Varieties
- WSET – Level 3
- Churchill Fellow – 2012 when he spent six months traveling through vineyards in Europe
- University of Southern Queensland Professional Alumnus of the Year – 2017
- Has consulted for most of the wineries in Queensland and almost all the vineyards
So when Mike Hayes tells you that Australia needs to change its grape production and he is going to help lead the way, it is fairly convincing. I’ll leave you with this video so you can judge for yourself. I think you will be impressed with his encyclopedic knowledge!