48 hours atop Mount Mee
I know a place where the wine is never-ending, the view is equal parts mountain and ocean, and where paddock to plate isn’t just a dining fad, but a way of life.
If I haven’t got you madly typing “heaven” into Google and searching for this fabled paradise, let’s check that pulse of yours.
With green rolling hills, postcard views over Moreton Bay and a food scene that will have you licking your lips more furiously than the MasterChef judges in a pressure test – one thing is for certain – you need Mount Mee in your life, and stat.
Here’s how you can explore Brisbane’s doorstep in a weekend and eat and drink like a #foodboss. After all, don’t you deserve some ‘me time’? Or should that read, Mount Mee time?
8AM: PUT RUBBER ON THE ROAD
From Brisbane and Mooloolaba, the drive to Mount Mee is only as long as an episode of Game of Thrones and the 60-minute drive from city to country will transport you into another world faster than the scenes from Westeros do.
Be sure to make a pit stop in Dayboro for a quick squiz at the antique stores and grab a coffee if you haven’t already had your fix this morning.
10AM: HORSES FOLLOWED BY LOTS OF COURSES
Anything worth doing is worth doing properly, which is why I suggest you kickstart this weekend wine-tasting on the mountain
One look at me and you can tell I’m no hill sprinter, which is why I prefer do to my wine tasting on hoof, not foot.
Ocean View Estates Winery and Restaurant run a wine & ride tour in conjunction with the team at Slickers Horse Riding, where you can saddle up and take a trail ride to get to lunch.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your apples from Appaloosas, you’ll be matched with a horse to suit your ability before hitting the open trail. The Slickers horses have seen more pastures than Melbourne Cups, so there’s no need to worry if it’s your first time in the saddle.
You’ll spend about two hours on horseback taking in views over Brisbane and Moreton Bay before you arrive at Ocean View Estates in time to wine and dine.
12NOON: VINES, BINES AND MORE WINE
On arrival at Ocean View Estates, meet the chief winemaker and vigneron Thomas Honeff, who was the mastermind behind planting the first grapes here back in 1998.
His wife Kate reckons he is man of the century, and who’s to disagree – she wanted a never-ending supply of wine and Thomas set the bar for husbands everywhere, granting Kate her wishes and building a vineyard which produces 35,000 bottles of wine each year.
Now, with more wine than one mere mortal can consume, Kate shares her cellar with guests and takes tours around the vineyard, explaining how the altitude of the property (450m above sea level) makes for good growing all year round.
It turns out, the wine making algorithm is relatively easy, even for this maths-boffin, to catch onto: cooler temperatures = longer growing time, which = flavour.
After one sip, you won’t argue with this science.
Without a doubt, the hardest decision you’ll make on this trip is whether you’ll vine or bine. Vine, bine, huh?
Don’t worry, grapes are grown on a vine and hops are grown on a bine. You’ll learn all about it on the winery tour and can impress friends at your next dinner party with lots of trunk-talk.
Your brew of choice will define your tasting menu today, and pending your answer you’ll be served a tasting plate, which includes a paddle of six (small) local beers or wines.
I let the food do the talking – and with a menu of seared tuna, freshly shucked oysters, confited pork jowl, lamb ribs and a brisket beef bun, it had to be the bine menu. The jury was out after reading “beef bun” on the menu. Decision. Made.
3PM: A BED TO REST YOUR WEARY HEAD
Every good lunch needs power-nap for dessert. Work off a food coma in one of the three onsite cabins that are
stumbling walking distance from the Ocean View restaurant.
Accommodating couples, families and groups of friends, the choice of cabins has you covered. Sure there are other places to stay on the mountain, but I’d recommend staying onsite – you’ll thank me later once you see the dinner menu.
Tip for young players: Ocean View even accepts your furry friends in the Winemakers Cottage.
4PM: STUNNING SCENERY
If an afternoon of napping isn’t to taste, could I suggest firing the action up with a helicopter tour of the region? A chopper is worth the coin if you’re chasing a bird’s eye view over the precious grape cargo dotted over the mountain and to see the geology of the mountain chains that make up the Glass House Mountains and Mount Mee. It will also earn you street cred, as you land back at Ocean View in front of the restaurant.
SUNSET: A ROMANTIC PICNIC PER… UNO
Nothing says romance like a setting sun and some one-on-one time with truffled brie and a creamy blue. This platter is made to share but if you don’t want to, you wouldn’t be the first to go it alone.
A picnic hamper will set you back $50 and you can enjoy sunset from your own patch of paradise at Ocean View Estates.
I highly recommend tossing down a rug by one of the many onsite dams to watch the sun go down. No crowds. Just you, the wine, and special scenery.
DINNER: DISCUSS AND DEGUST
It’s a destination of eating and drinking, so I suggest going the whole hog with a degustation this evening with a choice of four or six-course menus.
Head chef Tony Tierney is the Gordon Ramsay of the mountain, settling for nothing less than perfection on a plate. Tony cut his chef-ing teeth in the city and brings city practices to this rural setting.
Picking a favourite wine from the six matching wines is like choosing a favourite child. But, I’m not mother material and downed plenty of the merlot.
8:30AM: A BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Hot, cold, healthy, cook-up – there is nothing Tony and the team don’t do. Sunday is the only day the Ocean View Estates kitchen opens its door for brekkie and by getting there right on 8:30am you’ll miss the line-up of people who make the trek from Brisbane for a leisurely Sunday brunch.
9:30AM: SHIFT THE GUILT
If your jeans are feeling a little tight by this point of the weekend, The Somerset Trail in the D’Aguilar National Park will cure what ails you. It’s a 13km track, which is perfect if you have four hours to spend in eucalyptus woodlands, scribbly gum plantations and lush subtropical rainforests.
It’s a veritable botanist’s playground with more than 800 plant species, but it’s not all flora here. Keep your camera handy because about halfway along you can enjoy views to the west overlooking Somerset Dam and Wivenhoe Dam.
A tip for young players: you’ll need to pack your own water. There are no spots to fill up en route!
2PM: DID SOMEONE SAY GIFT STORE?
What’s a holiday without souvenir memories to match? And when the souvenir shop’s shelves are stocked with chardonnay and shiraz, who’s to say no?
There’s reds, whites and everything in between and by July 2016 Ocean View Estate’s new beer range will have its own section of the shop. I suspect you’ll go home with armfuls of the stuff.
After all, you’ll need something to help you un-wine’d once you get back to the city.