Sirromet chief winemaker Mike Hayes.
Sirromet chief winemaker Mike Hayes.

NEW ERA: Industry sets tone with five-year expansion plan

FACED with challenges like never before, the Queensland wine industry is seeking to grow wine tourism exponentially to offset the impacts of drought and fires.

At Brisbane's Regatta Hotel on Thursday for the Queensland International Wine Tourism Grant launch, Granite Belt winemaker and president of the Queensland Wine Industry Association, Mike Hayes, laid bare the industry's five-year strategy.

"The goal is to showcase bespoke winemaking, viticulture and emerging Queensland wine varieties and encourage international and domestic visitors alike to get out of the city and experience the authentic charm our regions have to offer," Mr Hayes told The Border Post ahead of the official event.

"The strategy highlights the importance of developing and promoting Queensland's authentic wine experiences and famous hospitality alongside culinary and other visitor experiences.

"We want to celebrate the best of Queensland wine."

The International Wine Tourism Strategy released by QWIA aims to encourage more visitors and increase their expenditure throughout the state's five wine regions - in the Granite Belt, Scenic Rim, South Burnett, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Hinterlands and the Darling Downs.

Winemaker Mike Hayes at Stanthorpe’s Queensland College of Wine Tourism. Photo supplied: USQ Photography, David Martinelli.
Winemaker Mike Hayes at Stanthorpe’s Queensland College of Wine Tourism. Photo supplied: USQ Photography, David Martinelli.

According to Tourism Research Australia data, wine tourism visitors to Queensland currently spend more than $800 million on average each year, which is 3 per cent of the state's total visitor expenditure.

At a time when the Queensland Wine Industry is faced with severe drought, Mr Hayes said QWIA has taken a proactive approach to ensure the wine industry remains competitive.

"By working with tourism industry leaders, we can further promote our wine producers and cellar doors as part of Queensland's overall appeal to Australian and international visitors."

Mr Hayes said the strategy already had some early wins on the board, including the positive coverage from helping to bring a group of internationally renowned wine bloggers to the Granite Belt region to sample Queensland's emerging varieties and meet the winemakers.

The strategy will also include the development of a uniquely Queensland wine tourism brand, he said.

QWIA's strategy is supported by the Australian Government's $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package and the Queensland Government.