Glass igloos in Finland, treehouses in South Africa, the Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand … rarely does an accommodation style gain celebrity status in itself.
But a bottler of a new offering has been uncorked on Queensland’s Granite Belt that blends imagination with a unique and relaxing couple’s escape.
The aptly named Barrel View Luxury Cabins at Ballandean, close to the border with NSW, caused a sensation across the globe when images and video first began appearing on Instagram and Facebook.
Since the official opening late last year, a constant trickle of visitors has opted to pair a stay in the Ballandean cabins with an authentic Queensland wine country experience, while also saying ‘cheers’ to jaw-dropping 180-degree views over Girraween and Sundown national parks.
Amy and Steven Torrisi elevated a quirky idea and created something special, high on a hill within their 16 hectares (40 acres), in the serenity of the natural Southern Downs bushland.
“I cannot be 100 per cent certain, but I am led to believe I was the instigator of the accommodation concept around two years ago when Steve and I had toyed with the idea of coming into the market,” Amy says.
“Being locals, we are aware of what was available in the sector already, so we really wanted to create a property that was a standout, and wine barrels in the heart of Queensland’s premier wine country is a well-fitted concept.
“Barrel View commenced construction in December 2021, but was a project two years in the making. The design was definitely challenging for many trades and we found ourselves, along with trades, thinking outside the box to bring the concept of the design to life to open Barrel View to its first guests in October 2022.
“The property has gained a lot of interest from interstate, as well as international businesses looking to replicate Barrel View.
“We are pretty stoked to be Australia’s first wine barrel accommodation and we appreciate the media coverage that has taken Barrel View to many places over the world.
“It’s a pretty good feeling that our risk has paid off. It’s a great accomplishment for both Steve and myself and goes to show that small businesspeople like ourselves in a country town have the incentive and drive to create such an iconic property in our hometown.”
The trio of cabins – each named after a Strange Bird variety of wine: Barbera, Tempranillo and Saperavi – would surely delight any trained cooper.
Some tourism operators have tried to create wine barrel suites elsewhere, using curved concrete and the like. But you’d have to travel to the Portugal’s Douro River or perhaps Mexico to find anything so meticulously constructed using timber (as a salute to their respective wine and tequila).
Steve’s brother Johnnie, a high-end contractor through his J Torrisi Building business, brought their concept to fruition by tackling the logistics and intricacies of this giant jigsaw puzzle.
And even he admitted in a Facebook post on October 17 last year: “We have certainly had to think out of the box (literally) on this one. Big thanks to our highly skilled carpenters and subcontractors piecing this one together.”
“This was his biggest challenge, taking on something so different,” Amy says on a tour of the Saperavi.
“Anything curved throws everyone off their game. It definitely wasn’t a standard build or a typical jobsite.
“The front is actually a window/door that opens up out on to the private deck.
“That was six months in the making and it took me about two months to find a supplier, as there were limited tradespeople willing to take the job on.”
The temperature-controlled, 48sqm cabins may look similar from the outside, but inside the rendered walls, each has its own subtle differences.
All have everything needed for a bespoke short break – including a king-size bed with a star-gazing skylight, ensuite, kitchenette, bar fridge, microwave and all-important coffee machine, as well as a private deck and complimentary toiletries and Wi-Fi.
The region’s bounty of produce is showcased in a selection of local wines and the breakfast hamper on arrival.
As Steve puts the finishing touches on the full outdoor kitchen and barbecue area that opened in time for Easter, Amy explains that their new business is a “work in progress”.
Safe and secure hiking trails will one day take visitors to “the top of the world” amid the property’s natural granite boulders.
With not a neighbouring property in sight, a very private outdoor spa is coming later this year to Saperavi, creating a complete ‘honeymoon suite’ to soak up all the romance of the setting and taking in the stunning sunsets.
Paying homage to the property’s heritage as once a part of the neighbouring vineyard, grapevines will again be planted – this time in the Strange Bird varieties.
Until then, visitors can indulge in a seamless, contact-less check-in with pre-arrival and in-room services through smart-room technologies. Then, you are left alone with the bird calls to enjoy that jaw-dropping view and bluer-than-blue sky from the comfort of your bed or outside on the deck.
Slip on the fluffy robes and slippers, and snuggle up with cosy blankets and comfy pillows this winter to truly unwind before venturing further afield.
At 1000m above sea level, the Granite Belt grape-growing area itself is quite small: about 56km long and 12km wide. That allows ample opportunity to take advantage of cellar doors in wineries from Cottonvale and Thulimbah to Glen Aplin, Ballandean and Wyberba.
It boasts 100 grape varieties, with signature wines made from shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and verdelho.
But its winemakers aren’t afraid to dabble and experiment, either.
Emerging and alternative varieties include notable Mediterranean grapes such as sangiovese, nebbiolo, tempranillo, saperavi, fiano, malbec, saperavi and viognier.
And you’d be hard pressed to find a more apt place to savour those fine drops than while immersed in the luxe surrounds of a giant wine barrel.
Article source: Queensland Property Investor
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