Flame Hill Vineyard & Restaurant holds a few surprises. Yes it’s a vineyard and restaurant, and that’s reason enough to stop by, but there’s so much more going on.
Flame Hill is Tony Thompson’s brainchild. An ex-electrician with an affinity for the land, Tony believes that “eating, drinking, thinking people want to know where their food and wine come from”.
Passionate about rural enterprise and vertical integration, he and his team have developed a multi-faceted rural tourism initiative. Let’s take a look.
There are two properties under the Flame Hill umbrella. The namesake, 300 acres just minutes from Montville’s Main Street and Kurrajong, 340km south in Lyra, QLD.
Flame Hill is named for the Flame trees flourishing on the property and Kurrajong for, you guessed it, the Kurrajongs. Both are varieties of the Brachychiton strain and must produce delicious seeds or a family of yellow tailed black cockatoos wouldn’t feed between the 2 properties.
Flame Hill houses the restaurant while Kurrajong is the production hub. Here their wine is produced, bottled, labelled, packed and shipped.
Taking advantage of the two properties differing climates, a plethora of grape, fruit, vegetable and herb varieties flourish.
Verdhelo vines slope from Flame Hill’s restaurant, while shiraz grows in the cooler valley. Southern European varietals are currently being trialled utilising the coastal sea breezes through the summer months. Multiple strains of berries, subtropical fruits and citrus share space with their market garden and kitchen garden.
100 head of grass fed cattle graze the Flame Hill property destined for the plate. Santa- Gertrudis cross cows are matched with Angus bulls. Aged to 30 months, their flavour is unique. The free range poultry wandering the grounds add eggs and “beak-to-tailfeathers” to the menu.
Cool climate vines are grown at Kurrajong along with heirloom vegetables, stone fruit and a multitude of kitchen vegetables.
It’s important to note Flame Hill vines are still hand harvested. Some wines are limited but all are in seasonal quantities often resulting in vintages selling out. However, a recent glut of verdhelo introduced a new product to the fold: Flame Hill Verjuice.
To taste, begin with an excellent drop, the Flame Hill Pinot Gris. With the expected crispness and minerality it also contains floral and spice notes with peach and citrus.
A couple of standout whites: Fiano, a southern European varietal grown at Kurrajong opens with marmalade and cider then finishes with citrus. It’s fantastic with pork. Another pork pairing is the barrel fermented Chardonnay displaying nectarine, peach and grapefruit.
In the reds, ‘Crimson’ suits the Sunshine Coast’s warmer climate. A blend of Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon, the light brightness works well with carpaccio. Montville Shiraz, a medium bodied red rich in berry tones, finishing with a hint of pepper, has enough personality to stand up to a charred steak.
In the tasting room, 3 are free or $6 for 6. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff discuss terroir to bottling, food and wine pairing and recommend quaffers and cellaring suitability.
To join Flame Hill’s Wine Club simply buy a dozen bottles to immediately qualify for 10% saving over the next 12 months.
The menu changes seasonally at the Restaurant. If Flame Hill find sourcing from their kitchen and market garden difficult, ingredients are supplemented by local Montville growers. The menu is planned 3 months in advance to allow for the ingredients’ growing cycles, prayers to mother nature follow.
According to Adam Lugg, award-winning executive chef, “It’s great to have everything at your doorstep. We know where it has come from and we know how it has been treated”.
When Adam came on board there were only 2 herb gardens, now the market garden produces about 15 different veg & fruit varieties. Plant & tree ripening allows the natural sugars to develop and intensify the flavours.
A Flame Hill sharing “paddock to plate” will take you on a journey through both farms. Expect cured meats, paté, terrines, pickled and marinated vegetables, artisan cheeses and house-baked bread.
Take on the small plates degustation for 2, or choose your own by the plate. Suggested wines by the glass complement each plate.
Mains to tantalise the taste buds may be Duck Leg Ballotine with orange and nasturtium salad, pan fried duck livers on golden eschalot Tarte-Tatin and duck fat roasted parsnip, baby carrot and duck jus. Try that with a glass of Flame Hill 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Meat eaters can’t miss The Station. Flame Hill Station steak (cut changes) with braised oxtail and horseradish in brick pastry, potato galette, roasted cauliflower and Montville Shiraz jus. A big bold red with this one; The Traprock Shiraz.
The less meat inclined will love what’s on the Taste of the Sea. Confit spiced salmon on shaved fennel salad with salmon roe; tempura Mooloolaba prawn with wakame and tomato chilli jam; seared Hervey Bay scallop with truffle aioli; Chilli salt Moreton Bay bug tail & steamed mussels with coconut and ginger broth. Recommended with a glass of Traprock Chardonnay.
The Vine will satisfy vegetarians. Pumpkin mousse with herbed goat’s curd, walnut crumb, Flame Hill Garden wilted greens, polenta quenelles and a burnt sage butter. Pair this with the Fiano.
Stomp is Flame Hill’s celebration to conclude harvest. Returning to tradition, all are welcome to kick off their shoes and stomp on those grapes. Of course, Flame Hill’s wines and Adam’s award-winning fare are involved while live entertainment completes this fun-filled afternoon.
Flame Hill’s next Stomp is February 24th, 2018 and tickets sell out quickly. Email email@example.com to be notified when tickets go on sale.
After a day at Flame Hill, you won’t want to leave, and you don’t have to. The property’s 2 cottages have been lovingly restored. Both Sinclair Cottage, the original 1920’s dairy cottage, and Symphony Cottage, a newer period cottage, have 3 bedrooms, kitchen, fireplaces and verandahs.
Be self-contained and take advantage of Flame Hill and the local area’s produce or let Flame Hill do it for you. Brunch and lunch on the restaurant terrace, Flame Hill’s picnic hampers or a combination.
A relaxing weekend at Flame Hill Vineyard and Restaurant: it’s a thing we love….
*** Psst….paraphernalia.co cover their own expenses to bring you unbiased reviews you can rely on.