Just an hours drive outside of Cairns is the beautiful Daintree National park; there is a welcome center here and a walk that leads up into the amazing tropical forest. The hike up into the Mossman gorge is fairly easy and has some sweet swimming holes along the way if you get too hot. We spent a few hours in the forest, walking the trails that wind their way up the Mossman River, enjoying the massive banyon and buttress trees.
As we left the national park we had a squiz (or a look for you non ‘Strayans) at our generic “map” given to us by good ol’ Rob the rental car agent. What to do next? The map had a few golden stars spread around marking “spots of interest” for tourists. One read Scomazzon Exotic Fruits… Yep, that sounds like a great place. We were planning on picking up a juicer later that day, so a car full of exotic fruit seemed like a step in the right direction for us. As we pulled up to this abandoned looking shack with big white lettering saying “Scomazzon Exotic Fruit” we heard what seemed to be the soundtrack to Mash playing. Or maybe it was Golden Girls. Something strange… We apparently came a bit too late and interrupted a nice old ladies TV story Time. She opened up the garage door and mumbled “Whater ya afta mate?”. We looked at each other and someone said “Uhh some exotic fruit?” She paused spoke with a smile “Sorry mate, all done for the arvo”. Unfortunately they had sold all the delicious goodness for the day and no more fruit was available. Oh well, what’s the next star on our trusty tourist map? Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery.. Only 5 km away.. It was a unspoken group decision to go there.
As we drove down the long drive way into the winery the first sign we saw was: Winery open till 4:30 pm every day. We all looked at the clock. Sweet! It was only 4:00. Our minds filled with the thought of wine. A few meters later the next sign said “dogs locked away 10:00am to 5:00 pm. Well, that’s good news. We had 30 minutes to get in, drink our wine and get out, before the hounds were released.
We parked the car and walked through an amazing garden to be greeted by a lovely lady named Trudie. She introduced herself, welcomed us to her winery and asked if we would like to have a tasting. It would be criminal to come to a winery and not drink so of course we said yes. Trudie led us to an outdoor section where we sat at a weathered wooden table surrounded by lush jungular gardens. There were signs on every table and hanging in random places that said “No it’s not sweet and sticky. It’s a lovely way to spend an hour in the tropics”. I’m guessing most people think tropical fruit wines will be very sweet and make everything sticky. This is definitely not the case.
Trudie went on to explain the winery to us. Shannonvale is not your typical grape winery. They specialize in delicious tropical fruit wines. She was happy to answer our questions and broke down the tropical fruit wine making process. She explained there really isn’t any difference in the process when compared to making traditional grape wine. The only difference lies in the obvious things like cultivation and juicing. Once you have that delicious fruit juice, any wine can be made from any fruit.
We went for the option to taste all 7 of her homemade fruit wines and 7 of her fruit ports. Over the period of an hour or so Trudie gave a fantastic table side presentation and explanation of every wine and port she served us. Feeling a slight buzz and happiness about what we stumbled upon we ended up buying 8 bottles in total. They will be perfect for those crazy hot days near the equator! Luckily she kept the “protection” dog inside until we left.
If you’re ever in the Cairns area, the Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery is a great way to spend an afternoon…or day…or week. Who wouldn’t want to sip on some delicious wine in the hot northern Queensland sun. Thanks for your hospitality Shannonvale Exotic Fruit Winery. You made our day!