Our Winemaking

Meet Dylan Rhymer

Award-winning vigneron

Introducing Dylan Rhymer, our talented Chief Winemaker. He’s been making award-winning wine at Ballandean Estate for almost 20 years. Dylan hails from the land of the long white cloud, and graduated from his Diploma of Wine Science at Hawkes Bay.

A “Flying Winemaker”, Dylan has followed vintages and wine seasons around the world, from Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Bulgaria, Spain, South Australia and the Granite Belt. His first position was at Brookfield’s Vineyards, a small premium winery in Hawkes Bay.

Every day at Ballandean Estate is different for Dylan. And he is a hands-on winemaker! You may find him:

  • Finessing and bottling wines
  • Tasting and creating the best blends from each vintage
  • Managing wine storage for the perfect releases
  • Collecting fruit samples during vintage
  • Crushing, racking, transferring wine
  • Researching and trialing innovative winemaking techniques
  • Showing industry representatives and visitors the art of wine behind the scenes

In the time Dylan has lived in Queensland he has witnessed the Queensland wine industry grow in leaps and bounds.

The quality of our wines holds up to that of any other state. This is greatly due to the diversity of tertiary qualified and nationally/ internationally experienced winemakers and viticulturalists that now call Queensland home. Some are new to the industry here, some are sons and daughters returning to their family wineries,” says Dylan.

How we make our premium wines


Fruit is handpicked. We look for the quality of fruit concentrations, big ripe tannins, high Baume warm days, rainfall at right time and a dry ripening season. In years felt to be of those standard all the Shiraz and Cabernet barrels are tasted and just six are picked for the Gen 3 blend, from which we make 180 to 200 cases. The ratio of varieties is dictated only by the need to produce the best blend that we can out of them. The wine then matures in 100% new reserve French oak barrels, minimally filtered and unfined. Time is the only way to soften the tannins and release the full expression of the wine.


The combination of cool weather and decomposed granite soils produces outstanding Shiraz and Cabernet fruit on the Granite Belt. Angelo Puglisi recognised this potential and planted the Opera Block Shiraz and Cabernet vines in 1968 and 1975, which have been lovingly nurtured for many years to produce fruit of intense flavour. Our cool nights are excellent for acidity.

Our aged Cabernet vines on the Opera Block thrive in our immaculate ripening and growing conditions to produce intensely-flavoured fruit. This full-bodied premium wine exhibits lovely rich berries on the bouquet that translate to a huge mouthful of red berries on the palate. Toasty French oak meets with soft earthy tannins to finish each delectable gulp!


We handpick the fruit, then it is crushed, destemmed and cold soaked. After a long fermentation, we age the wine 12 to 14 months in reserve French oak barrels that are one to three years of age. Minimal filtration and no fining required.


The combination of cool weather and decomposed granite soils produces outstanding Cabernet fruit on the Granite Belt. Ballandean Estate Founder Angelo Puglisi recognised this potential and planted the Opera Block Cabernet vines in 1975, which have been lovingly nurtured for many years. This vigorous variety produces a lot of fruit, but we the cropping level by thinning before flowering. Our cool nights are excellent for acidity.

Our award-winning single vineyard premium Shiraz is sourced from the Opera Block’s oldest vines. Winemaker Dylan Rhymer has delivered a delicate balance of fruit and French oak. This Shiraz is an eloquent demonstration of the Granite Belt’s terroir, boasting ripe berry and cassis aromas. On the palate, intense blackcurrant, light pepper and spices combine with medium tannins for palate structure and a smooth, lingering finish. Aged for 12 to 15 months in air dried French oak barriques.


After a long fermentation, the wine was aged for 12–14 months in Reserve French oak barrels that are one to three years of age. Minimal filtration and no fining required before bottling.


Angelo Puglisi cemented his future in winemaking by planting a block of Shiraz vines in 1968 on his Ballandean farm. His decision to convert from table grapes to wine grapes was brave and he and Mary worked hard to produce wines of quality and create a market for their Granite Belt grown wines. Those first vines have been lovingly nurtured over the years and now produce the award-winning Opera Block Shiraz—refined, elegant with intense fruit typical of a cool climate profile.

Nectar of the gods! A heady mix of French oak and intense fruit, our single vineyard Opera Block Chardonnay is produced in a traditional style. The gorgeous aroma of intermingled French oak, vanillin and intense fruit from. aged vines welcomes you to this elegant wine. The smooth palate is strong with white fruit, citrus notes and a touch of French oak sweetness.


Juice is racked to French oak barrels and yeast added. Lees stirring throughout the year. Stabilised then filtered. No finings added. French oak barrel fermentation delivers a rich buttery texture that complements creamy sauces, rich poultry and seafood.


Our Chardonnay fruit is sourced from our Ballandean and Bellevue vineyards, at 800m and 850m above sea level respectively. Some of these vines were planted back in 1985. Our granite soils reflect heat onto the fruit—speeding the ripening during the day, with cool temperatures overnight—resulting in a mature, intensely-flavoured Chardonnay.

Our Saperavi won Gold at the 2018 International Saperavi Prize,. This single vineyard Strangebird™ delivers an intense bouquet—hints of licorice and berries and a bold dry palate of savoury blue fruits. The finish is smooth with lingering French oak. Saperavi hails from the Republic of Georgia, where they have been making wine for more than 8000 years.


Handpicked after careful monitoring in the vineyard to ensure the perfect balance between flavour, acidity and tannin ripeness. Long fermentation is followed by 14 months in reserve French oak barrels that are one to three years of age. Higher proportion of new oak in this wine due to big fruit structure and high alcohol. French oak soaks up tannin to build a big palate structure.


In our Bellevue vineyard, the Saperavi vines we planted in 2008 have an ancient look, with nobbly shoots reminiscent of arthritic fingers! Angelo was keen to experiment with this Strangebird™ varietal, as its mid-season ripening makes it less risky than other reds. The granite soils reflect heat onto the fruit—speeding the ripening during the day, with cool temperatures overnight—resulting in mature, intensely-flavoured fruit.

Our single vineyard Nebbiolo is an excellent expression of Granite Belt terroir for this highly-praised Strangebird™ variety. This easy-drinking dry red has a savoury, herbaceous style with a touch of cherry and the orange hues synonymous with aged Nebbiolo.


We pick the fruit at optimal ripeness to balance fruit flavours with tannin ripeness and acidity. Crushed and destemmed, where it cold soaked for a period determined by regular juice tastings. Medium length fermentation then racked to reserve tight grain French oak barrels of one to six years of age. We age the wine for 12–14 months before minimal filtration and bottling.


Nebbiolo is incredibly sensitive to terroir—it needs great drainage and a long, bright growing season. Ballandean Estate’s high altitude, cool climate and granite traprock soils on Bellevue’s slopes have seen the vines mature a low yield initially. Angelo Puglisi overcame this by using a different pruning approach that produces more fruit bunches. The fruit is the last to be harvested, as it matures slowly with the cool nights at the end of growing season.

A voluptuous blackcurrant bouquet introduces a rich palate of mulberry and cherry integrated with French oak. Tannins are smooth and indicate a long life for this full-bodied divine wine. Durif is making its mark on the Granite Belt on the Strangebird™ Wine Trail. Originating in France’s Rhone Valley, it is a cross between Shiraz and Peloursin—also known as Petite Syrah in California, France and Israel—with an aging ability that can exceed 20 years in the bottle.


Durif fruit is picked in at optimal ripeness, then crushed and destemmed and cold soaked. Extended fermentation for flavour and tannin extraction. After malo, the wine is racked to reserve French oak barrels and aged for 12‒14 months. Once emptied, the wine is minimally filtered and bottled. No finings added.


Our Durif vines were planted in 2008 on the slopes of the Bellevue vineyards at Ballandean on the Granite Belt, 850m above sea level. The vines grow vigorously and produce large tight bunches of fruit, due to the big leaves attracting more sunlight, enhancing photosynthesis. Angelo overcame this challenge by cutting off 70% of each bunch at flowering, which results in lots of small bunches. Durif grape skins produce a high density rich crimson colour.

Fresh and fabulous, our award-winning single vineyard Fiano is a southern Italian classic made modern by winemaker Dylan Rymer. A Strangebird™ Wine Trail stand-out, Ballandean Estate is famed for our Fiano—we are the first to produce it in Queensland.

Be seduced by our Fiano’s intense bouquet with hints of tropical fruit including pineapple. The palate is fresh with an intensity that is created by some innovative new winemaking methods. The outcome is a flavoursome, delicious dry unwooded white that is perfect for our alfresco lifestyle. In a sea of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Fiano is a luscious lighter-bodied alternative for wine lovers wanting to try something new.


The juice is settled quickly in stainless before yeast added. Stabilised, no finings added, filtered and bottled, unoaked.


The vines were planted on the slopes of the Bellevue vineyards at Ballandean 850m above sea level. This fruit is perfectly suited to our continental climate. The vines grow vigorously, and the loose bunches of fruit can handle heavy rainfall in summer, as the bunches dry out and do not rot. The granite terroir is highly conducive to the expression of fruit in our Fiano wine.

This delectably crisp, zesty, dry, fruit-driven unwooded blend demonstrates a typical cool climate flavour profile, with minerality, stone fruits and an acidic spine. Our blend excites with passionfruit notes and a deliciously limey finish, leaving your taste buds lifted and delicately treated. It’s certainly a wine to be enjoyed while young—and incredibly versatile to match with food. A winning style for Ballandean Estate visitors and at wine shows.


All of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fruit is harvested in individual blocks at varying ripeness to maximise the different flavour balances of citrus and stone fruits. After being individually fermented, trial blends were created to ensure the best match of flavours before the blend is created in the winery.


We source the fruit from our Ballandean and Bellevue vineyards. Our Semillon vines were planted in 1973, and our Sauvignon Blanc vines in 1985. Both varietals are well-suited to the climatic conditions of the Granite Belt. Our warm days and cold nights produce intensely-flavoured fruit.

Originating in Croatia, and widely grown throughout northern Italy, this variety is a truly rare alternative wine, with less than 200 Australian estate-grown cases produced for the 2018 vintage. The varietal is a delicious crisp Italian-style dry white wine, and textured, set to match the success of our critically-acclaimed Fiano.


Winemaker Dylan Rhymer wanted to distinguish this wine with a completely different flavour profile to our Fiano. The wine spends three months in oak barrels, as opposed to 12-14 months for traditionally oaked white such as chardonnay. This completely changes its structure and aromatics, lifted the nose and intensified its mouth feel, without bringing oak onto the palate. The process delivers a crisp, dry, fruity, perfumed wine, a great match with lighter summer foods or creamy brie.


In 2015, Angelo Puglisi planted one acre of Malvasia on the Ballandean Estate vineyard. 2017’s vintage yielded just 20 litres, an experimental batch. 2018’s vintage was picked in March after an optimal growing season. The fruit for 2019’s vintage is looking magnificent, with big, loose bunches of fruit on the vines. Berries medium to large, yellowish with thick skin, juicy flesh and stone fruit characteristics. Set to thrive on the Granite Belt, Malvasia has a good tolerance of cold winters, early frosts and windy sites.

Our winemaking philosophy

“It ain’t over till it’s over…” Dylan Rhymer.

Nothing is left to chance. It’s all about attention to detail.

  • Starting in the vineyard with a blend of science and years of experience in the Granite Belt growing grapes, to bring in our fruit in its optimal condition.
  • Then there’s the winemaking. Coaxing that fruit into releasing everything it has to offer. Constantly striving to make something different and wonderful to show you, but still respecting its integrity.
  • Right through until that wine gets poured from the bottle into your glass and you’re savouring  the aromas and flavours.  

Then it’s over. Just for that wine though. We’ll see you at the next.

Vintage releases and wine reviews

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Rated 4 stars by James Halliday

2015 Saperavi

  • GOLD — 2018 International Saperavi Prize
  • GOLD — 2017 Australian Alternative Varieties
  • SILVER — 2017 Australian Small Winemakers Show

2015 Fiano

  • Top 5 alternative whites in Australia and NZ — Winestate Magazine

2016 Fiano

  • Trophy champion alternative white Queensland Wine Awards

2016 Durif

  • Silver Royal Qld Wine Show
  • Bronze Toowoomba Royal Wine Show
  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

2016 Saperavi

  • Silver Toowoomba Royal Wine Show

2018 Fiano

  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

2016 Viognier

  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

2016 Opera Block Shiraz

  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

Angela’s Muscat

  • Gold Qld Wine Awards and Champion Fortified of the Show