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The Old Caves Winery was one of the first wineries we found out about on our getaway to Queensland’s Granite Belt, mainly because it was right next door to our cottage for the weekend…and because a bottle of their Armchair Port was provided in our minibar. We kept hearing about it around town; a number of fellow wine tasters would try a port and then compare it to ones they’d tried at The Old Caves. Given that port is one of my favourite drinks, I knew we couldn’t leave town without visiting them.
It’s fortunate that we did visit — even if we did leave it for our last stop before heading out of town — because otherwise I would not have found what turned out to be my favourite drink in Stanthorpe. I wouldn’t have found it on any subsequent trips to Stanthorpe either, because as we were standing at the cellar door having a taste, the owner, David, told us that the winery will be closing down as of the 30th of June due to personal reasons.
The winery itself is fairly simple; it’s housed in a small wooden building next to the McDonald’s in Applethorpe. On first look it doesn’t even look like a winery, since there are no vineyards to be seen. The inside of the winery seems much more cavernous than what you would expect from its outward appearance; I guess it’s fitting, given the winery’s name.
The Old Caves seemed a lot more commercial than previous wineries we’d visited in Stanthorpe. There were a lot more wares for sale and a lot of personalised bottles you could buy for special occasions. I personally liked these:
Once we finally did pull ourselves up to the cellar door’s bar, we were fairly quickly served by David. He delivered a fact-filled talk about tasting wine that was a bit more gruff and a bit less enjoyable than the one we’d received at The Summit Estate a few days prior. He was also very much under the impression that I was the driver, because every time I tried more than three sips of a drink, he pointed out that there was a spittoon nearby and that I didn’t have to finish every wine given to me. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because he was incredibly generous with his portions!
Neither of us was a huge fan of any of the wines we tried (although we only tried the reds). The fortified wines were another story though — I had a hard time choosing exactly which ones I wanted to take home with me! The liqueur muscat was exactly as described on the tasting sheet – sweet and luscious. The celebration and tawny ports were nice, but not as smooth and drinkable as the armchair port, which we ended up with a bottle of. The rummy port was indeed rummy, but if I want a glass of port, I don’t want it to taste like rum!
Last but certainly not least was the drink mentioned above — my favourite from our trip to Stanthorpe. Inauspiciously named ‘Quilter’s Port,’ I wasn’t sure what to make of it until David told us that it was infused with chocolate. Then I couldn’t try it quickly enough! It was lovely and rich as a port should be with a sweet chocolate finish. Needless to say, we went home with a bottle (or two!) of it as well.
So if you’re anywhere close to the Stanthorpe region in the next few weeks, I highly recommend you pop in and try some of The Old Caves Winery’s ports before they are gone!
The Old Caves Winery is located at 25798 New England Highway in Applethorpe, a few kilometers north of the turnoff into Stanthorpe in Queensland’s Granite Belt. Opening hours are from 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday (excluding Wednesday) and 10am-3pm on Sundays. They will be closing their doors on June 30.
What’s the best drink you’ve ever tried at a cellar door tasting?