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Enjoy great wine, food and books, and win a 6-day trip to Tasmania


Are you wondering where the year has gone? One minute it's February, and now it's November, and Santa is knocking at our doors yet again. Another year older and ... well, you know the rest. Anyway we've (mostly) survived the GFC and in Australia – which certainly qualifies as the lucky country in 2010 – we're already looking forward to summer and the holidays ahead.

First of all though there are gifts to buy. Whether you love or loathe Christmas/festive season shopping, we've got some great gift ideas for the wine, food and travel lovers in your life – or maybe for you! Even if you're super organised and have nearly finished your shopping already, you might find something special and different here.

Plus there are plenty of great prizes to be won by our subscribers or Members this month – if you receive this newsletter, that means you. All you have do do is click on the links below and fill in the form. Believe us, your chances are MUCH higher than winning the lottery, and the wines are delicious, too. We'll post them out in early December so they will be at your door before the holidays begin.

Our friends at Tourism Tasmania invite you all to discover some of Tasmania's hidden secrets – as I live in Tassie, I can vouch that these are fabulous experiences. The prize includes flights for 2 people return to Hobart from any Australian capital city, five nights accommodation, six days car rental and A$500 credit towards your holiday! So if you've always wanted to visit Tasmania, now might be your chance.

So read on, and enjoy – we know you're 'busier than a fly at a barbecue' as someone said to me last week!


In this edition:

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Upgrade and become a Member - A$49 for a whole year of benefits (A$69 per couple)

Quick Poll:

Q1. With fabulous wine and food, and so much to see and do in Tasmania, have you ever travelled there?
Yes - lots of times
Yes - once
No - but would love to
Not Interested

If yes, do you have any experiences or secrets about Tasmania that you would like to share?

This month you can enter to win a special escape to Tasmania courtesy of Tourism Tasmania »

SPECIAL PROMOTION – Discover the secrets of Tasmania

There are more than a few secrets in Tasmania that locals tend to keep for themselves. Whether it’s a vineyard tucked away in a valley or a restaurant where Australia’s Country Chef of the Year serves up fine local fare, these treasures are often shared only in whispers.

But it’s time some Tasmanian locals revealed their own well kept secrets! Find out what winemaker Natasha Nieuwhof of the Tamar Valley has to share about wine trends, things to do and places to go around northern Tasmania. Learn about her favourite country town to visit with her family on weekends, where Natasha collects fresh fruit and vegetables as well as beautiful flowers.

You’ll find out about little-known Tasmanian gems across the State and also have the opportunity to win your own secret escape to Tasmania »



Australia's wine industry is in good hands:

Providing a sound argument for the benefits of so called 'alternative' viticultural and winemaking techniques – by drawing together a collection of case studies of individuals and businesses within Australia's wine industry  – is The Future Makers, Australian Wines for the 21st century by Max Allen.

Max's book is a must-read for all planning on entering the wine industry or already working in it, and is both inspiring and challenging »


Alternative grape varieties are also hot right now, especially following the recent Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura, Victoria, described by one winemaker as 'a religious experience and one of the most important events in the Australian wine calendar' »

Nearly 600 wines made from over 100 less common grape varieties were available for public tasting, for those who made the pilgrimage. Send us your feedback if you were there!

Did you know there are some 5000 varieties of grape vines used for making wine in the world? However commercially in Australia we use only about a hundred »

Perfectly timed to ride the alternative varietal wave is the new edition of Vinodiversity – The Book by Darby Higgs, which details 130 alternative grape varieties being grown in Australia »


Looking for a present for the beer lover in your life?

Or perhaps seeking to make sense of all the new beer labels out there? Then try these:


TRAVEL: Head Out of the Blue:

Winsor Dobbin this month visits the Blue Mountains – a region not immediately associated with fine wine and food but they are the gateway to the vineyards of Central Western NSW, have a thriving food culture, several great restaurants and even a cellar door »


Ian Hickinbotham, our resident expert and famous oenologist, tells us about:


Wine News:


WIN classic wines from Coonawarra and Hunter Valley, books galore or sharpen up

This month we continue the Coonawarra celebrations with Zema Estate and discover some Hunter Valley classics from DenMar Estate.

Plus there are books galore and a unique opportunity to learn the art of knife sharpening with a Japanese-trained expert.  Cocoa Farm are also offering the chance to win a DeVine weekend at the fabulous Lindenderry at Red Hill in the heart of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.


1. WIN A PLACE in a Knife Sharpening Masterclass »

Sharpen up those dodgy kitchen knives and rediscover the joy of preparing food with a honed blade. Trained by Japanese Master Sharpeners, Leigh Hudson of Chef's Armoury will teach you how to use the a waterstone to get the edge on your knives – and keep it there – in a two-hour session in Melbourne on 19th Nov, worth $99.

Hurry on this one please – entries close THIS SUNDAY 14th November »


 2. SUBSCRIBERS' COMPETITION: Hunter Valley wine plus food and wine books galore »

With the festive season quickly approaching, we've found some extra presents for you to enjoy over the holiday period.

Wine prizes – win one of 4 half dozens of DenMar Estate wines with a wonderful mix of Hunter Valley classics including: 2007 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon from their Estate Reserve range and the 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Pinot Noir and 2009 Semillon from their Cellar Door range.

Book prizes – 10 to be won and you can choose your preference!

  • Australia in Style  – a visual feast of 35 stylish travel experiences. Discover stylish outback tours where the often hard environment is softened substantially by luxurious, relaxing accommodation and local foods and wines prepared by your own chef.
  • CountryStyle, Country Chefs  – superbly captures the essence of our much-loved country chefs and their love of local produce together with stunning location photography. 
  • Wolf Blass – Behind the Bow Tie  – an insightful look into the man who helped shape the Australian wine industry and offers five principles of success, still widely applicable today.
  • Australian Wine Vintages 2011 – not called the Gold book just for its colour, Rob Geddes MW provides real nuggets of wine advice in a handy guide.
  • A Guide to Australian and New Zealand Olive Oils  – get the good oil and demystify the myriad of olive oils available on the shop shelf with this great little guide. 

To read more and enter click here »


3. MEMBERS:  We invite you to enjoy some classic Coonawarra shiraz and beautiful books »

Wine  – 4 half dozens of Zema Estate 2006 Shiraz. This is a full-bodied Coonawarra classic, lovingly hand-crafted in a traditional vine to wine process. Zema wines are renowned for their consistency, intense rich fruit and excellent varietal definition. A favourite! We're just sorry we can't enter too.

Books – 4 to be won, including signed by the author.

  • Tasmania's Table looks at the land, sea and air bounty through the eyes and hands of people who know how to make the best of it – its restaurateurs. It also includes the multi-award winning culinary school The Agrarian Kitchen and expert opinions from author and brewer Willie Simpson. With evocative photography, a must-read if you enter to win the Tasmanian trip!
  • Wine and Food (signed by the author, Kate Lamont )  The classic that turns wine and food matching on its head to solve our age-old conundrum. Life used to be too short to drink bad wine – now it’s too short to waste good wines on bad food matches, so enter now for your chance to win a personally signed copy from one of Australia's great chefs and winemakers.
  • Australian Wine Vintages 2011  – tasting notes on over 2000 wines, gold star ratings, cellaring advice and much more is packed into this stylish gold book by Rob Geddes MW. A must for the serious wine buyer.

Read more and enter now for your chance to win »

Everyone who becomes a Member this month is automatically entered into the draw, so join now – only A$49 for an entire year of benefits (and great prizes!)



Love chocolate? Love indulgent weekends in fabulous locations? Live in South Australia, Victoria or Queensland? If you answered yes to all these then watch out for the Cocoa Farm retail promotion in selected outlets.

To launch their new luxury range (and they are, we've tried them!),  including the new and very yummy riesling and chardonnay wine-infused chocolates, Farm by Nature will draw one winner from each state to enjoy a DeVine weekend at Lindenderry on the fabulous Mornington Peninsula. There are also couple Memberships to be won along with delicious Cocoa Farm hampers.

More chocolatey prize and entry details here »


NEWS: December 1 will see the launch of our brand new competition page full of wonderful wine and food prizes for the festive and summer season, in a great new format. Look out for something really special!


WINNERS, WHERE ARE YOU? Please lighten the load on our prize shelf and check the October winners' page here . If you find your name, simply email Karen and we'll have your prize on your doorstep in no time. There are still some great prizes waiting for you to take them home in time for the festive season.....



A very encouraging sign – and perfect timing with Christmas just around the corner – is that the high Australian dollar is finally bringing down cookbook prices (as most of them are printed overseas). The quality is still high, with lots of photos, but suddenly the price looks a bit more budget friendly. Three new titles from New Holland Publishers that fit the bill perfectly are:

Just when you think cookbooks can't get any more niche – or appetising – along comes one like salades by esteemed Sydney chef Damien Pignolet. Step inside and you are in another world, as far from the tired trio of tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber as you can get. An inspiring book,  perfect for spring and summer days »

Challenged by the task of remaining enthusiastic about midweek cooking, and the unanswered question 'What wine DO you serve with roast chicken?', Queensland authors and best friends Ryn and Cordie set out on a quest. In Search of the Perfect Partner: The Food and Wine Matching Formula is the result - a cool little cookbook that answers your everyday food and wine matching questions, with flair! »

Even better, as a Member or subscriber you can buy In Search of the Perfect Partner at 20% off total cost (book + postage) here. A great Christmas gift for the young or young-at-heart.

Another cheap pocket-sized wonder for the vegetarian in your life is The Australian Veg Food Guide 2011 by renowned food blogger Lisa Dempster, which gives national coverage after her sell-out Melbourne edition.

One from our archives, but another hot topic right now, given the current Chinese wine export push, is wine and food expert Edward Ragg's article on matching Australian wines to the four main styles of Chinese cooking . French wines may have the prestige, but our fruit-driven wine styles are considered more easily matched to Chinese food. Find out how

This article is a must-read for any winemaker contemplating exporting wine to the Middle Kingdom, and for lovers of Chinese food looking for wine-pairing advice.


FOR OUR MEMBERS Members: when planning your next day trip, weekend away or summer holiday escape, don’t forget to check to access over 200 exclusive offers and experiences in regional areas across Australia including:

And if you happen to be heading across the stream to beautiful New Zealand, stop in to the New Zealand Wine Centre in Auckland for a discounted wine adventure!

Enjoy these and over 200 more exclusive wine and food experiences by upgrading your subscription to a full Membership for only $49 for a whole year of enjoyment. All subscribers who become full Members will automatically be entered into the special Members-only prize giveaway this month.


RACV and RACT (and other motoring organisation members visiting Victoria and Tasmania)

Looking for a great excuse to visit some of your favourite Victorian regions and regional producers?
We can offer you over 50, thanks to our RACV Regional Wine and Food Program – brought to you by

This month we are showcasing our first feature partner: Hickinbotham of Dromana, located in the heart of Victoria's beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

If you’re a fan of quality wine, great regional food, boutique beers and oodles of live music, Hickinbotham of Dromana provides all this and more at their relaxed and rustic property.

Set on a hill with views over the vines out to Port Phillip Bay, RACV Members will also enjoy with great discounts at the cellar door and restaurant »

Keen to learn more about the fascinating history of Hickinbotham? Read more here »


For the full list of over 50 great wine and food discounts visit including great discounts from

Do you have or know of a business that might like to be involved in this dynamic new program? Click here to contact Sara, our friendly Victorian Alliance Manager.


TRAVELLING TASMANIA with your RACT* card in hand can bring you some added delights and savings on wine, food and much more. Here’s a sample from the north of the state:

The Tamar Valley boasts some fabulous wines, our Goaty Hill and Three Wishes partners are two of the best.

If you want to discover the history of the area, then the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre will take you back in time. Especially good if the kids are tired of the vineyards and clamour for something more exciting – they can try out the many working displays and get a hands-on experience of the past. Show your RACT card for a 15% discount on entry fees.

Down the highway at Bridgenorth, call into Rocky Gardens Preserves and meet the lovely Patricia. She’s been making these award winning goodies for over 20 years now from nearly all Tasmanian ingredients (except for the mangoes in the exceptionally good Mango Chilli Chutney of course!) and without adding any preservatives, colourings or flavourings. A warm welcome guaranteed and your card gives you 10% off purchases which is handy because, trust us, it’s hard to walk out without an armful of gourmet treats!

Wander into the Pinot Shop in Launceston and be surrounded by the best of premium pinot noir, grown so perfectly (we believe!) in the cool climes of Tasmania, New Zealand and southern parts of mainland Australia.

Their love for pinot extends to sibling styles pinot gris and grigio and fizzy cousins sparkling wine and Champagne plus an interesting range of other delicious wines. Michelle offers RACT members a 10% discount on sales of 1-5 bottles but it’s hard not to stock up a little with a 15% discount on sales of 6 or more »

These are just a few of the many great wine, food and other experiences where you can now savour and save.

Check for the full range of discount offers around the state:  Ashgrove Cheese , Bed in the Treetops, Frogmore Creek and many more. New businesses are joining us each week.


Do you have or know of a business in Tasmania that might like to be involved in this dynamic new program? Click here to contact Kerry, our friendly Tasmanian Alliance Manager.

* Reciprocal rights exist for members of Auto Clubs from other states including NRMA, RAA, RACQ etc.


Would you like to see these discounts in other States, or do you have a favourite cellar door, restaurant or food producer/outlet you'd like to see included? Then please email Kerry with your suggestions and let her know.



Thailand's first fully-fledged wine show

Connecting small and boutique wine producers with agents/distributors for Thailand and the wider region of mainland South East Asia – a fast-growing market of over 300 million people – the Bangkok International Wine Fair is a must for wine producers, importers or retailers along with media and wine-related businesses. Discover new markets, forge new contacts and expand your business. Bangkok 25-27 Nov »


Get out and about at some of these events:

Cyberspace: The first international tweetup showcasing rosé wines – of whatever variety – being held on Twitter, facebook, Foursquare and more. Rosé makers and lovers join in on Tues 30 Nov »

NSW: The fifth annual Wine, Arts and Roses Festival invites you to celebrate the best of the Southern Highlands rose gardens, wineries and arts. Various locations until 21 Nov »

NT: The Christmas Craft Fair held annually is your chance to buy Christmas gifts with a difference – unique handmade items from the people that make them. Darwin 21 Nov »

NZ: Heading across the Tasman? Toast Martinborough is a fabulous wine festival that every pinot-lover should attend at least once. Toast Martinborough 21 Nov »

Qld: During Spring, the Granite Belt plays host to an abundant list of events from music and the arts to nature and fine dining at Primavera: Granite Belt Spring Style. Various locations until 30 Nov »

SA: Showcasing the best in Croatian food, wine and entertainment is the Festa Croatian Food and Wine Festival now in its seventh year. Adelaide 27 Nov »

Tas: The Wrest Point Royal Hobart International Wine Show is one of the most significant events in the Australian wine industry and the second largest in the country. The public tasting of the wines submitted for the show allows you to sample a huge variety of award-winning wines. Hobart 19 Nov »

Our fabulous partners Josef Chromy Wines Tasmania are having a Day on the Green featuring Blondie and The Pretenders at Relbia (just out of Launceston) on Sunday 5 Dec.

Vic: If an open cellar door weekend is to your taste then head to the Budburst Wine and Food Festival, a celebration of the wine, food and lifestyle of the Macedon Ranges. Various locations 13-14 Nov »

WA: This year the city of Perth will be casting magic over Western Australian families with the Festival of Christmas. Various locations 12 Nov to 6 Jan »


You can find all these events and many more on our national wine and food calendar at – search and view events by month, by State (or country) and by region.

Look out for what's on in January in our next newsletter in early December, or start planning ahead now! The Australian summer is looking good....


Savour the last of spring

Hope you all have a great month as we rush into summer in Australia, and good luck with the shopping!

All the best from

Robyn Lewis and the team


PS Don't forget you can get updates in between newsletters by following us on twitter (hashtag #visitvineyards) and facebook »

New wine, food and travel articles are added to almost daily.