The Granite Belt was first planted with vines as early as the 1870’s; however modern commercial viticulture is very recent. The region has 530 ha under vine, with many vineyards at more than 1000 metres. Climate in the area is moderate continental with cool winter and spring weather owing to the high altitude. Vineyards are anchored in distinctive granitic soils, contributing to the acidity and aromatics in the wines. A region of mostly family owned wineries, the Granite Belt produces predominantly Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. However there is burgeoning interest in alternative varieties including Viognier, Mourvèdre, Gewurztraminer, Barbera and Tempranillo. In 2007 the Granite Belt Alternative Wine Trail (named “Strange Bird”) was launched featuring 17 different alternative wine varieties.