The South Burnett’s smallest winery took another important step forward on the weekend when it bottled its first thousand litres of wine.
Kingaroy State High School staff and students manned a production line at the school’s winery on Saturday morning, washing packing crates and bottles, then distilling filtered wine into the bottles and capping them.
The end result – a light cabernet – will be labelled and put on sale in the next few months.
Science teacher Ross Whiteford believes the as yet unnamed first product will be “a perfect summer wine” when it’s chilled, and he should know.
Before taking up teaching, Ross had more than 30 years experience as a winemaker and played an important role in the early development of the South Burnett’s wine industry.
The grapes used in the wine were sourced from Clovely Estate at Moffatdale and fermented at the school.
Originally, the high school used the winery just to teach students the chemistry behind the fermentation process.
But this year – after several years of work, and with the support of KSHS Principal Ashley Roediger – Ross was able to persuade the Education Department to allow him to dramatically expand the course to cover all aspects of the winemaking business.
Kingaroy State High School is now one of the few in the nation that has a small scale winemaking licence, allowing it to teach students about a home-grown industry that has made the South Burnett the second largest wine region in Queensland.
Students will be involved with production, media and public relations, sales and marketing, data management, IT, and creative art in alignment with a number of relevant curriculum areas including science, accounting, legal studies, business, information technology and art.
Wine from the business will be sold through the internet, and the school is also planning a presence at the annual Wine and Food in the Park Festival held in Kingaroy every March.
The proceeds of this school-based enterprise will be reinvested in further developing the $100,000 winery and the course.
“This wine has been a long time coming and is the better for it,” Ross said.
“Students are now involved in various matters which will follow the bottling to prepare for that.
“Labels are being designed, an advertising campaign is being drawn up, an event is being planned for the launch, and of course, the various business necessities such as the capability to process orders is being developed. But it should all be ready for our customers by early October.”
The winery also hopes to produce a port and a sherry to accompany their first wine.
Sadly for the students, they won’t be able to taste the fruits of their labour until they turn 18.
But southburnett.com.au did, and we are happy to confirm that chilled on a hot day, the new KSHS wine will be a very pleasant accompaniment to a long summer lunch.