A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Even if there were not a winery here, this would be a place to visit, its location redefines nowhere. A sharp left off the Cook Highway between Port Douglas and Mossman takes you toward the low-set distant mountains on a straight macadam road through cane-lined paddocks. The road to the winery terminates with a final shimmy in an eye wateringly green valley. This is jungle borders, where flora and fauna pre-date humans, and the vast and alive scenery is tinted exclusively green.
Arrive to a warm greeting – this is not a huge site and the arrival of visitors unlikely to be anonymous – from Laza, the youngest of the Woodall family team that produce what is shortly to be consumed. His manner, relaxed and reassuring, as he explains that the facility has been here for 20 years, covering nearly 20 acres of the valley. With no signal at the property, it’s time to switch off the phone and enjoy the experience; the prehistoric splendour, lush kempt grounds and signs of rudimentary agriculture that greets every visitor and deserves full attention.
The cellar door, a quaint covered outdoor area with bench seats and tables, the area adorned with the vintage paraphernalia of smallholding agriculture, a reminder of the more recent man-made history of the site. Introductions follow to the rest of the squad: first Tony the patriarch and retired physiotherapist, and then Trudy, the vintner of the tribe.
Their enthusiasm pre-dated becoming winemakers, and Tony is quick to shed any pretension at the suggestion that he and Trudy had previously been ‘Wine Connoisseurs’, instead proclaiming he prefers wine lovers! Like a lot of small producers, they decided to move into commercial production after much amateur production experience. With a view of mountains rising from the tropical canopy, the idea of a snifter and a conversation is more than perfect. Wine bottles hive into view, glasses presented in preparation for the show, the theatre of it all can’t be ignored, and the comprehensive explanatory experience begins!
With a list of six table wines, four dry and two a bit sweeter, and four fortified wines made in port styles, these wonderful fruit wines are a source of surprise and amazement.
Like grape wines, there are preferences for dry or sweet, with Mango not a sweet wine as you might expect! Defying the usual categories, these wines are best not compared to grape varietals, but rather explored with food pairings. Indulge in the time of the hosts, their explanations and insight are remarkable.
Indulging in the time of the hosts, their explanations and insight are remarkable.
Shannonvale’s most awarded wine, the fortified Black Sapote, when asked how it should be consumed Tony says, “I would drink sitting in the corner facing the wall with just a glass with nobody around,” illustrating that it requires nothing more than itself to be enjoyed. He lists 15 flavours that can be tasted in this truly remarkable dessert wine.
In conclusion, from the grape, the tree, the shrub or the fruit, whether from a mad uncle’s shed batch of elderberry or from one of the most awarded tropical fruit winemakers in Queensland, it can be safely said that snobbishness should be abandoned and rather prepare the taste buds for whatever suits the mood, the meal or the climate.
Prepare your taste buds! The voyage of discovery, just like this off-the-beaten-track adventure, is well worth it.