Skip to main content
December 15, 2020

The Merry Muster meets the Opera Block at Ballandean

This week Ballandean Estate hosted the Granite Belt’s biggest picnic of 2020, as The Merry Muster, a convoy of seven buses from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, descended on Queensland’s oldest family owned and operated winery.  Fourth-generation vigneron Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi says,

“At Ballandean Estate, we are experiencing incredible support as Buy Local, Drink Local and Buy from the Bush is resonating with people in the wake of COVID-19. When Christine Bonner, founder of the Merry Muster, called last week to speak to Barrelroom chefs Matt and Bobbi Wells about last minute menu requests, and mentioned 370 people, I was flabbergasted. It was hard to keep my cool — or contain my excitement!
Those aboard The Merry Muster buses came along with their empty eskies, which they’ve filled with artisan-made Christmas presents, fresh local produce, cheeses and Granite Belt wines. This event has gained tremendous momentum, growing seven times in size this year.”

Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi

Image credit: Emma Russell

We’ve seen an enormous influx of wine tourists at the cellar door and restaurant over the last few months, and this had slipped off my radar.

Naturally Matt and Bobbi had been planning for the menu for weeks and ensuring compliance for the outdoor event under our COVID Safe Plan.

These busloads of beautiful ladies shared their love and supported the Southern Downs through an heart-rending injection of emotional support and much-need funds into our regional economy.

We wanted to give them the best possible locavore picnic experience. The Barrelroom took days preparing the antipasto entrees – we are talking:

  • 3850 pieces of sesame lavosh
  • 70 kg of hand roasted capsicums
  • 40 kg of grilled zucchini
  • 40 kg of roasted local mushrooms
  • 18 kg of roasted local cherry tomatoes
  • 31 kg of local cheese
  • 12 kg of slow-roasted beef for the artisan rolls served with hand-made chutney and onion jam
  • and 300 pieces of handmade nougat.

All enjoyed outdoors on the Opera Block with music and a lively market atmosphere. “

Today Stanthorpe is hosting its Boutique Christmas shopping day with Bustling markets, Christmas carols and store openings, says Ms Puglisi-Gangemi. For those that couldn’t make the Merry Muster, you can still support regional bush businesses in Brisbane and finish off your Christmas shopping at Buy from the Bush’s Newfarm popup shop. It is open 7 days a week until the 23rd of December.

Menu at www.barrelroomrestaurant.com 
Call 07 4684 1326 or text 0448 822 203 to book a table.

Thanks to The Merry Muster and photography from Emma Russell for these gorgeous images from the day

Friends of Ballandean

Your wine adventure starts here. We’ll share our stories, give you access to exclusive deals, reveal upcoming events and more.