The Golden Drop

Mother Nature plucked a wee particle from the Sun as it slid over the horizon at day’s finish, moulding the little golden orb with care into an appealing oblong shape.  She named him Mango, and he dropped gently to earth as the King of Fruits.

And the mango settled and pushed its growing roots into rich red earth, sending arms back into the sky as if reaching to its mother in thanks. He was rewarded with dozens of new little golden orbs, and the world rejoiced because liquid gold was born, and right here in our region. 

It’s late afternoon in the tranquil countryside of Biboohra in the Atherton Tablelands, and the sun is competing with the mangoes for the daily gold medal.  The mangoes are winning, because as beautiful as the sinking sun is, the mango won in deliciousness. 

It’s easy to feel like royalty as you head through the gate of the 100 hectare Golden Drop Winery Farm.  Seventeen thousand mango trees, resplendent in their green uniforms, stand stock still for as far as the eye can see on either side of the neat driveway, saluting your entry to this truly remarkable farm frequented by locals and tourists in search of gold. 

Today, the silent soldiers on either side of the driveway have all been beheaded and the uniformity is awe inspiring.  Imagine pruning 17,000 trees, and like a clutch of ten-pins, they are all identical as if all chopped by a huge helicopter rotor blade.  A work of art by a salt-of-the-earth Aussie family who saw gold in their gold.

In 1975, Charlie Nastasi, with sons Sam and Dino, planted 3600 mango trees.  From little things, big things grow, including trees.  Up to 17,000 trees now in fact, with citrus and dragon fruit also added to the paddocks. 

“Like most crops, there are good years and there are bad years, and sometimes there’s just so much produce you can’t move it on.  And we hate waste,” says Grace Parker, Charlie’s daughter.

Demand and prices dropped off in southern markets to where 30 per cent of the farm’s second rate produce was originally shipped, and Charlie stopped his tractor briefly to don his businessman’s hat. Inspiration blossomed alongside the mango flowers and Charlie soon identified an opportunity to add value to the farm while creating employment for future generations.  

And so Biboohra’s liquid gold was born, and there couldn’t be a better name for this boutique winery than Golden Drop, because that is exactly what it is.  Tropical North Queensland sunshine bottled.

Since Patriarch Charlie sadly passed on, this cohesive, hard-working family has embraced the niche market Charlie identified, which took them boldly into wholesale, retail and tourism.

Sam and Dino, their wives Jackie and Maria, and Charlie’s wife Lucy all live and work on the farm, and joined by Grace Parker, Charlie’s daughter, all family members were out in force on the day I arrived. 

There’s no turning back once you have sampled a drop of Mother Nature’s Golden Drop, or in fact to the contrary, there will be much turning back, and you will see the farm magnificent in all its seasons.

The family started with three wines in 1999 - dry, medium and sweet - but the range has extended to 10 products: Sparkling Mango Wine, Mango Port and liqueur style Cellos – Golden Mango Cello, Citrus (Lemon, Mandarin and Lime), and Dragon fruit.

“We selected four different varieties of mango, specifically for their sweetness: Kensington Pride (which most people know as Bowen), Australian Kensington Red, Kiett and Pearl,” Grace says. “The Kensington varieties are used for the wines.

“Our mangoes are sold in supermarkets all over Australia, but some of our premium product is much sought after by overseas markets also.”

Three new customers arrive and I must admit I felt sorry for the driver, who watched his mates’ faces wrinkle in ecstasy at the first sip. 

“We love to see locals, and we're committed to helping local business too,” Grace adds, pointing at the numerous local food products on display.

“With the growing trend toward supporting local business, we’re seeing many more restaurants buying and promoting local produce, as we do. 

“Our product is so representative of the region, and we hope to encourage restaurateurs in Cairns, the northern beaches and even south of the city to share our product.

“We are also keen to support the Tablelands to Tabletop initiative, and love what this family is doing to support local farmers.  Definitely something we will be looking at as we move into 2023 and embrace the growing support for each other as local farmers” Grace says.

Golden Drop Winery also sells its beautiful Kensington mangoes to local individuals and restaurants. 

Golden Drop stockist details are available on the Winery’s website. 

Thar’s gold in dem dere hills!

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