Scotchman's Hill, Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia.


There’s something magical about winter, and even when cold wind, hail and sleet makes a sweep of the whole eastern coast of Australia, with snow in South East Queensland and frost on the Cairns Hinterland, we can find pleasure in what is really a great excuse to turn up the heating, get busy in the kitchen and pull out some dusty dark shiraz from storage.

James Halliday’s 2009 edition of the Australian Wine Companion hit the bookstores last week (read our review here) and there’s a full page of 96+ rated examples if the local bottle store is your cellar. The 2004 Yabby Lake Vineyard Roc from Mornington Peninsula sits proudly at the top of the list – a great achievement for the makers and their renowned cool climate region.

We’ve been busy at too, with the development team working hard to improve the search feature on the site. At the top of all search results pages you’ll find a “refine your search” button – this opens up the whole world for you, letting to drill down into our database of over 30,000 wine, food and travel products. For example, if you want to find a winery in the Southern Highlands, with restaurant and accommodation attached, open on Thursdays, you can – just select what you are looking for, and the search does the rest. Here are some hidden gems we discovered during testing:

  • Big Blue Kitchen, great hideaway accommodation and delicious food from Peter Demsey’s kitchen at St Andrew’s Beach on the Mornington Peninsula
  • Cape Jaffa Wines, a pioneer in biodynamic vineyard management in the Mount Benson wine region
  • Barossa Daimler Tours - perhaps the ultimate wine touring experience in South Australia, also covering the Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills.

Here’s what else we’ve been up to:

Quick Links:

ADVERT: Taste 2009 by Tsyon Stelzer and Matthew Jukes

International Cool Climate Wine Show organiser Steve Robin

Cool Climate regions feeling the heat

Think your favourite wine region is cool? Climate change is forcing some regions to reclassify. International Cool Climate Wine Show organiser Steve Robin says producers are only just seeing which varieties suit which locations, and the definition of cool climate regions may have to change.

The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press]Award-winning beer from the Snowy Mountains Brewery [Snowy Mountains Brewery]Stillwater Restaurant and Provedore, Tamar Valley, Tasmania

August Subscriber Competition – some great winter reading

Pull on your slippers, find a big glass and fill it with your favourite wine, and get ready to curl up in the warm with some great winter reads for wine and food lovers. This month’s competition is all about books, with a case of beer thrown in because ... well, it’s Father’s Day next month. We have three titles to give away:

  1. Two copies of The Oxford Companion to Food are up for grabs – perhaps the most divine bible of food ever published.
  2. Three copies of A Frog in the Billabong, by staffer Marie-Paule Leroux – the tale of adapting to life in Tasmania.
  3. Three copies of Beer - A Gauge For Enthusiasts, by Greg Duncan Powell – an entertaining survey of all the beer Greg could find.
  4. And we’ve got a case of Snowy Mountains Brewery Bullocks Pilsner for Dad to enjoy.

Remember, competitions are open to subscribers only, so make sure you login and enter. And, if you also subscribe for home delivery with The Age newspaper we have a special competition. One lucky entrant and their guest will enjoy return flights from Melbourne to Launceston, 2 nights’ accommodation at Peppers Seaport, 3 days’ Avis car hire, a half day wine tour of the delightful Tamar Valley and to cap it off, a degustation dinner for two by chef Don Cameron at award-winning Stillwater Restaurant, Launceston. This prize, valued at A$1500 and brought to you by and Tourism Tasmania, opens on 30th August – you can read about this fabulous prize here now but remember entries open on 30th August via The Age, so get your Age subscription now!

Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, authors of Taste Food and Wine 2008

Tasting Notes – hot curry blush

There's nothing better on a freezing winter's night than the best Indian takeaway you can find and a bottle (or two) of rosé. According to the lads from Taste Food and Wine 2008, nothing washes good Indian down better than a smooth, juicy glass of blush. Try their top 10 Australian rosé.

Melbourne skyline and Yarra River, Melbourne, Victoria [Great Wine Capitals]Cool climate wine at Stillwater Restaurant, Launceston, Tasmania

Taste of Melbourne Festival

There’s a new kid on the block, with the inaugural Taste of Melbourne Festival coming at the end of August. Over four days, a selection of the city’s finest restaurants will offer their exquisite signature dishes in a festival atmosphere for you to sample and enjoy. This is your chance to dine at Nobu Melbourne, Circa, the Prince, Grossi Florentino, Longrain, Jacques Reymond, The Press Club , Fifteen and Three, One, Two, all in one sitting.

If you’re out on the Mornington Peninsula keep tasting and get your entries into the Winter Wine Passport competition to win a $3000 wine cellar.

The Barossa Gourmet Weekend is held from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August, and this year you can enjoy the finest wine from 24 cellar doors, matched to sumptuous food and some of South Australia's best live entertainment, with lots of activities for children, too. Other August wine and food events around Australia can be found in our growing events section.

And if you are in Queensland, it’s all on at the Ekka from Thursday 7th to Friday 15th August, when the Granite Belt comes to town with wine and food demonstrations by celebrity kitchen hosts Peter Howard and Alison Alexander.

Thorpe Farm Tasmanian Highland Cheese, Bothwell, Tasmania [Photographer: George Bignell]

Hidden highland treasure

At we’re guilty of eating too much cheese, and our team of writers are on a mission to find the best match for the perfect pinot (another mission). This month Graeme Phillips discovered Thorpe Farm in the southern highlands of Tasmania. Just reading about their Tasmanian Highland Cheese range and the local restaurants that are incorporating it into their dishes will make your mouth water, but cheese isn’t all this sixth-generation Tasmanian is up to.

We hope you are enjoying our newsletter and the new look, your home for wine, food and travel on the web. Last month was a record in subscriptions and traffic, so welcome to our new subscribers from both and our sister site Winepros Archive. Please return to every week for the latest in wine, food and travel news around the country.

Your feedback is welcome – please send your comments to or get chatting on the forums and tell us about your greatest wine country experiences.

Robyn Lewis and the team at

PS From now on, we’ll be announcing the winners to our previous month’s competitions in our regular monthly newsletter. Were you one of our 3 lucky subscribers who won the case of select Mornington Peninsula wine or the Tasting Station gourmet food and wine hampers? Find out here!