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Spring is officially here around Australia, and whether you are basking in 29C sunshine at Port Douglas or watching the daffodils still coming up in Hobart, buds are bursting, layers are coming off and there's a new spring in everyone's step, too. So settle back for a few minutes and find out what we have in store for you in September.

Your VisitVineyards.com Membership program turns one, and to celebrate our birthday we are bringing you a few extra goodies.

  • Your FIRST BIG BONUS is that we are now working with The Wine Society , Australia's longest-standing and most experienced wine co-operative. Some of you will need no introduction to The Wine Society, being members already, but for those of you who do, it's like a wine club - giving you access to a large range of wines at special prices delivered to your door (very quickly, in our experience!) - but without those 'quarterly dozens' (of sometimes variable quality) which you may not want or like. You are NOT sent any wines that you do not order.

We've personally tested them out and are very happy with their service - or we would not be offering it to you.

The cost is A$50 one-off joining fee, refundable if you ever leave. And in another bonus, their wine freight is subsidised - within Australia it's a maximum of A$7 per case (normal postage can be A$17-20).

Each month The Wine Society offers a welcome gift - free wine or glassware - and which is usually worth far more than the joining fee. Your only obligation is to buy a minimum of A$100 wine per year. The Wine Society also holds regular dinners, fun wine events and wine appreciation classes around Australia, from beginner to experieced levels - you can find some of them on our calendar »

 

 Interested? Here's how  to join The Wine Society - and a gift for the first twenty who do:

 All VisitVineyards.com Members and subscribers are invited to join The Wine Society here, quoting the special promotional code VINE000 (zeros, not o's). You can also join on the phone - simply call 1300 723 723 and speak to one of their friendly staff - and don't forget to quote the code VINE000 when you do! By quoting the promotional code you will be entitled to special extras that we will offer you from time to time.

To celebrate our birthday, we'll give you a present  - the first 20 VisitVineyards.com subscribers who join The Wine Society in September using the promotional code VINE000 will each receive a free double Membership of VisitVineyards.com, which retails at A$169!!

So be quick - take your wine travels to a whole new level and join both for only A$50 if you are among the first 20.

Already a VisitVineyards.com Member? You won't miss out. Be among the first 20 to join The Wine Society and we'll extend your VisitVineyards.com Membership for another year for free, and make it a double if it's not already.

Find out more and claim your free Membership or extension here »

 

  • Our SECOND BIG BONUS is for those of you who are already Wine Society members - now you can upgrade from a VisitVineyards.com subscription to a full Membership at a special rate of A$69 for a whole year – that’s 30% off our normal price. Or join as a couple and save A$50.

So don't put it off any longer - spring is here! Each member of The Wine Society who becomes a member of VisitVineyards.com before the 30th November will receive a free tchillbag worth A$14.50 to keep your wine cool, and you'll also be entered in the draw to win a bottle of Penfolds Grange 1998 (valued at over A$600) or one of ten copies of Australian Wine Vintages 2010 (RRP A$34.95), by Rob Geddes MW.

It's simple. CLICK HERE to become a full Member of VisitVineyards.com, collect your free tchillbag and to enter to win the bottle of Grange 1998.  Please use the special entry code(s) given under the section on 'How do you become a VisitVineyards.com Member' »

 

  • The THIRD BIG BONUS is for everyone -  we'll be offering you even more VisitVineyards.com wine travel benefits around the country - see a selection of our new ones below or check them out on our website »

 

In this edition:

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Quick Links:


Upgrade and become a Member - A$99 for a whole year of benefits (A$169 per couple)


Quick Poll:

Q1. Do you think Australia has a wine oversupply problem?
Yes
No
Don't know

Q2: Do you think there are too many wine brands/labels in the market?
Yes
No
Don't know

Q3. In the latest Wine Companion 2010, James Halliday stated that about 1/4 of Australia's wine grapes may have to be removed due to oversupply, water shortages etc. Assuming this is correct, where do you think that should occur?
Riverland (Riverina/Murray-Darling) - source of 60% of Australia's wine (mainly bulk)
In both the Riverland and other regions - (specify below)
Don't know
I don't think there is a problem
Other regions

Q4. Any comments?

 

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You only have one heart: wine and good health, and the magic compound resveratrol - fad or miracle cure?

We've just celebrated Fathers' Day in Australia - a day for fathers and families - and September is heart awareness month for the Heart Foundation, who are running their annual Doorknock Appeal across the country. The two go together, as it's men who are still at the highest risk of heart disease. So this month we are focussing on wine and your health, especially your heart.

We are also donating A$10 for every VisitVineyards.com Membership sold across Australia in September to the Heart Foundation. Read more and find out why »

This month we've been speaking to Dr John D'Arcy - Australia's best known media doctor - about a subject close to us all:  wine and your heart. There are a lot of confusing messages about wine drinking and your health, so we asked Dr D'Arcy - who admits to enjoying the odd glass or two of shiraz - for his advice »

One of the health benefits of drinking wine (in moderate amounts, of course) is believed to be caused by a natural compound called resveratrol, which is an anti-oxidant found especially in red wine. There are some who say it explains the 'French paradox' - which is the observation that the French may suffer a relatively low incidence of heart disease despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. And that they don't seem to put on weight.  So we consulted Dr D'Arcy and also Dr George Mihaly, a former pharmacologist who now grows grapes and makes wine at Paradigm Hill in Victoria,  is resveratrol the latest fad or a miracle health cure?

When you've read the article, scroll down to watch a very interesting video of American presenter Barbara Walters talking to Professor Sinclair about the health benefits of resveratrol - quite amazing.

Some of you might also have seen us written up in last week's New Idea. Heart health became all very personal for the VisitVineyards.com team earlier this year - read more about our experiences here in red wine is good for your heart » 


Wine travels - a capital affair, best of the west or some spice might be nice?

Comprising some of Australia's most recently established wine-producing areas - and some big medal winning wineries  -  the Canberra District is one of the country's most interesting places to visit. Although the first winemaking took place here around 160 years ago, the modern era of vineyards were only planted in 1971. More than 140 vineyards in close proximity provide the ideal opportunity to taste many of the award-winning premium and ultra-premium brands associated with the region but which are relatively unknown outside Australia.

Not just for wine enthusiasts, Canberra is a great destination for food lovers with first class cuisine, funky cafes and outstanding restaurants. Add walking trails in the national parks, cycling around the lake, hot air ballooning plus our most well-known Canberra monuments and galleries and you have plenty of reasons to discover the delights of our Nation's capital.

 

Go west young man (or woman)

The Margaret River wine region is hard to beat for perfect weather, amazing beaches and some of the best food and wine in the world. Winemaker Simon Pratten loves the industry, the wine and sharing it with friends and family.

We've also picked out the top 10 food and wine stops to make your taste buds tingle in this delicious region so have a look at our Top 10 - wine and food cult classics in Margaret River »

 

If however you are dreaming of somewhere warmer and more exotic, then excite your senses with a Ginger Garlic Tour leaving in October and January to Rajasthan and Kerala. Ashok and Ritu Sikand from Eltham's Ginger Garlic restaurant  - a haven for foodies in Melbourne - invite you to join them on an experience of a lifetime in India.

This is one fantasy that can be fulfilled and at an extremely affordable price. Don't forget to ask about our very special Members' offer » 

September means Queensland month for lots of people - if you're going to Port Douglas then make sure you dine at Salsa Bar and Grill. Chef Rhys Bawden loved our August review of their book Salsa - fine food with flair : 'This would have to one of the best reviews that we have had thus far and thank you for your kind words. You really can tell that you loved living up here and have some great memories of you time.'  Check out the Port Douglas vibe - you can now watch the Salsa video »


Support the renewal of the Yarra Valley at twin festivals in October - and win one of two double Memberships

We all know how much the Yarra Valley suffered during the appalling bushfires last February. We were there last week and it's really lovely at the moment, with all the daffodils out and the green grass and new new growth on trees. Some of the smaller winemakers are throwing open their doors over two weekends in October and they would like to welcome you to attend one or both events.

So show your support, lift a few spirits and come along for a fun day in the Valley, or make a weekend of it.

As a special bonus, we'll give two lucky subscribers who visit the events pages below each a free VisitVineyards.com double Membership (worth A$169 each) to use in the Yarra Valley on your visit and throughout the year - we have some great new Members' offers coming up at De Bortoli, Domaine Chandon, Immerse, Helen's Hill, Oak Ridge, Rochford, Barrique Wines, Seville Estate, Medhurst Wines, Red Shed Cafe and more, as well as those at Mandala Wines , The Gatehouse at Villa Readward and Hargreaves Hill microbrewery.

To enter all you have to do is to click on the festival heading links below, read about the festivals and send us an email from the bottom of each page. We'll email the lucky winners at the end of September.

 

A SPECIAL YARRA VALLEY PROMOTION

Shed Fest 10-11 October »

The smaller wineries and wine makers of the Yarra Valley will open their cellar doors over two weekends in October, with the popular Shed Fest held over the weekend of Saturday 10 and Sunday 11th September.

All wineries have sheds; usually housing crushers, barrels, tractors and other equipment vitally important to the production of fine wines. Every year, on the second weekend of October, eleven wineries along the Yarra Valley's Warburton Highway open their sheds for you to enjoy two days of fabulous food, fine wine, live music and entertainment.

Sample some of the Yarra Valley’s finest wines as you enjoy live music and entertainment, light meals and snacks. Visit and support our smaller winemakers as you enjoy their warm friendly hospitality, and bring along your friends and family »

 

Open Cellars of Nillumbik festival 17-18 October »

The following weekend there's the Open Cellars of Nillumbik festival on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18th. Come and meet the winemakers of 17 boutique wineries and share their passion for the exceptional quality wines they produce in this special part of the Yarra Valley. The cellar doors vary from contemporary design to buildings constructed from local stone and mud. 

Located at Kangaroo Ground right on the edge of the Yarra Valley, these are the closest vineyards to Melbourne, and many are not normally open to the public. Entertainment, art sales and wine sampling all on offer »

Come along to one or both, have a fun day out and support the Yarra Valley.


Eat to your heart's content - plus something new for wine lovers

With a healthy heart and lifestyle in mind, we're featuring some great new cookbooks designed to keep you healthy -  even if some of it is spent lying on the lounge.

  • If it's not here already where you live, then barbecue season will be upon us soon.  But this year do something different and don't just throw fatty slabs of meat on the grill. For one thing, the fat burns and gives your meat a bitter aftertaste. For seconds, it might kill you. Have a healthy barbecue instead with the Heart Foundation's newest cookbook, the BBQ and Grill Cookbook by Loukie Werle »
  • The real flavour of Tuscany. Is there room for another book on Tuscany? This delightful volume by foodie author Lori de Mori and her food photographer husband Jason Lowe says yes, as they explore the authentic lives and hand-made produce of 25 artisan makers of all things Tuscan, from the sea coast to the mountains »
  • We in the Western world are now searching for quick answers to our modern day paradox of 'better' food whilst we're becoming less healthy.  In Italy they may have had the answers all along . Sicily's 'most famous American' Mary Taylor Simeti presents health-giving recipes tried and proven over centuries in Sicilian Food - Recipes from Italy's Abundant Isle. It's a classic and no foodie's bookshelf is complete without one. Scroll down to watch a beautiful video of 'agriturismo' in the foothills of Mt Etna »

 

A new approach to Australian wine vintages? And a blast from the (recent) past.

  • After 26 vintages Robin Bradley has handed over the reins of Australian Wine Vintages 2010 ('the Gold Book') to wine master Robert Geddes, and there are some great changes, the biggest of which is the increase in number of 5 gold star wines from 16 to a massive 94. H'e also changed the scoring method, which has significant and positive implications for consumers. The book is a fantastic reference to the higher end of Australian wines, and will be sure to create a lot of interest. Find out who's in and what will get wine drinkers and collectors buzzing »
  • Last March the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival held a weekend culinary masterclass at the Langham Hotel. Also featured were some leading international and national winemakers, presenting trendsetting global wine styles alongside select Australian counterparts. Couldn't make it to the Wine Masterclasses ? Tickets to next year's event will be on sale soon, but meanwhile have a look at what you missed in the  Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Masterclass Recipe Book - wine »


WIN red wine, olives and books - prizes all good for your heart, health, soul  ... and tastebuds

Enter the spirit of our heart and health month with some great prizes including new release shiraz from Best's Great Western, a fantastic hamper from Green Olive and books on all of our favourite things - good food, great wine and wonderful wine regions.

VisitVineyards.com SUBSCRIBERS:

  • Fancy some classic, well-structured shiraz from one of Australia's oldest continuously family-owned and operated wineries? Like to be amongst the first to try new release wines? Then start posting your comments on VisitVineyards.com and you could win half dozen bottles of  Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2008 released on 1st September 2009 and valued at $150 (plus postage). Best's cellar door is pictured at left - it's a truly authentic cellar door experience and worth a trip to Great Western (in Victoria) to visit this and the nearby Seppelt's massive underground cellars. Drop in if you're driving between Adelaide and Melbourne.
  • Second prize in September is a hamper from Green Olive Hampers and Gifts valued at $100 and brimming full of delicious gourmet food and wine. Not only will the chutney, relish and other products be very tasty, they're also rather healthy for you too.
  • Perhaps you'd like to discover rich tapestry that is the Real Flavour of Tuscany, one of the world's best known food regions and find out why we should all be true to our local roots?
  • Or stay in Australia and fire up the the BBQ in preparation for the coming warmer weather in the southern states. In keeping with our health and heart theme we have three copies of  The BBQ and Grill Cookbook  by Loukie Werle for the Heart Foundation to be won and it's full of great recipes for the BBQ and healthy eating tips.

So post a comment on a vineyard, restaurant, event, festival or any listing on VisitVineyards.com and you'll automatically be in the draw. Entries will be judged on how useful they are to other readers and it's really is easy to enter »

We had heaps of comments from you last month and it's taken us a while to read them all - look out for the 'best of the best' in our next edition - yours might be featured as one of them!

 

VisitVineyards.com MEMBERS:

  • One lucky Member will also win half a dozen bottles of the just released Best's Great Western Shiraz Bin 1 Shiraz , meticulously crafted and representing the essence of Best's wine-making ideals and their unique wine region. We haven't even tasted it yet but we are told it's stunning.
  • Second prize will take you out west to discover the vineyards and wineries of Pemberton, an emerging WA wine region through the eyes and lens of photographer Alex Bond. Pemberton Wine Region also features the stunning environment - the forests, lakes and coastlines that all combine to give this region its unique character.
  • Or get your hands on some gold - gold advice that is with one of three copies of the brand new Australian Wine Vintages 2010 by Rob Geddes MW. With an even longer list of gold star wines and tasting notes for over 2030 wines, it's sure to be worth its weight in gold.

Members simply fill in the entry form and you could be enjoying superb shiraz, stunning WA views or doing some serious research for your cellar »

 

Did you win in August?

With so many prizes on offer - a record of over 50 in August - we can't directly notify all winners except for the Really Big Prizes and for tickets to events, so you need to check our prize winners' page  if you enter our competitions, and please get in touch with us if your name is on the winners' list.

Also listed on this page are the winners of the recent VisitVineyards.com Sydney Morning Herald competition to win the fabulous trip to Boroka Downs in Victoria. There were a huge number of entries and we thank you all for your interest. And our heartiest congratulations to the ecstatic winner - enjoy your luxurious long weekend in Victoria's Grampians »

Some prizes go unclaimed and if your name is drawn and you don't snap up your prizes we're obliged to redraw. So check for your name now and don't miss out »


Fabulous new experiences and benefits - Christmas has come early for VisitVineyards.com Members

Fancy  your own foodie adventure with a group of friends? Like to enjoy a Penfolds Grange premium pack? How about a day out discovering the Mornington Peninsula’s hidden gems? Or perhaps you've wondered what goes on at wine school?

Well, read on, as this month’s featured Member Offers are sure to tantalize the toughest of tastebuds.

 

  • Our friends at Outback Encounter have put together an exclusive VisitVineyards.com Flying Food Safari package for Members. In addition to seven glorious days discovering regional delicacies from Kangaroo Island to the Eyre Peninsula, the Barossa Valley and beyond, Members who book this fabulous tour will receive a gift of an exclusive 2004 Penfolds Grange pack valued at almost $800! This is the ultimate foodie adventure in Australia, crafted exclusively for you, our VisitVineyards.com Members. So get a group of like-minded friends together and find out what people are flying in from the States, Europe, Singapore and Hong Kong to experience right here on our own doorstep.

 

Can't get away for a week? Perhaps, consider one of these wine-filled days instead:

 

Not a VisitVineyards.com Member yet?

If you love wine and food, you should be! Join VisitVineyards.com and take advantage of our fast-growing range of unique wine and food experiences and great value offers available exclusively to our Members at cellar doors, restaurants, provedores and accommodation providers across Australia.

It's your passport to wine country and you shouldn't be visiting wine regions without one of our cards in your wallet. Find out what you're missing and join us here today »

If you're a Wine Society Member and join VisitVineyards.com (before 30th November) you'll also receive a free free tchillbag - the smart ice-bucket, wine-carry bag -  just in time for spring picnics. Tchillbags are the new wine carry/cooler bag - just fill them with ice and you can take your wine already chilled to your next party or barbecue. Great for gifts, too.


Sip, sample and savour your way around the country with these great events in September and October

September is wine celebration month in the Mudgee region of New South Wales , a festive and indulgent time of wine and food events. With over 50 cellar doors, Mudgee has an array of boutique wines to try. Come along to a range of unique winery dinners to meet the colourful local vignerons and enjoy Mudgee at its most delicious and lively time. September Wine Festival - 1st to 27th September » 

Other great wine and food events coming up:

  • Fed Square in Melbourne will be showcasing the best of Gippsland and NW Victoria on 7-8 September. Don't forget VisitVineyards.com Members get 20% off entry price by showing your card »
  • Match Victorian food and wine at one of Avoca's premier vineyards - Blue Pyrenees on Sat 12th September »
  • The big food and wine event in Victoria in September is of course the Royal Melbourne Show from 17-27th, which features the latest award winners With the Melbourne International Arts Festival on from 9-24 Oct, Melbourne's on a winner.
  • In Central Victoria the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival on 3rd and 4th October is now in its eighth year and has become a must do event for wine and food lovers.
  • Also in Victoria, head down to the Mornington Peninsula for Pinot Week - 3rd to 11th October - and taste some of the Peninsula's great wine varieties. An invitation to find out more about this fascinating variety as well as the people dedicated to producing it.
  • Looking for something different? From 11th-20th September, Alice Springs is the meeting place of many different cultures at the Alice Desert Festival. Celebrating the rich diversity of life in the Northern Territory, this annual event inspires and entertains.
  • Take a weekend break in the country at Braidwood, NSW and learn how to make six classic cheeses. Award-winning cheesemaker Barry Lillywhite will be presenting a workshop on 19th and 20th September at The Old Cheese Factory »
  • Enjoy the ambience of Bowral in Springtime. Taste regional fresh food and wine 3rd-5th October at the Tulip Time Bowral Fresh Food and Wine Fair in the Southern Highlands of NSW . The fair showcases the region's best in local wines, olives, cheeses and produce.
  • Named a state icon in 2004, the Perth Royal Show is a unique event in Western Australia attracting hundreds of thousands of people over eight exciting days from 26th September to 3rd October.
  • Fancy a break in Tasmania? Then tantalise your taste buds by tasting some of the best white wines Southern Tasmania has to offer at the White Wine Weekend held at the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart on 10th and 11th October »
  • Renowned for its fabulous food and wine, South Australia's Kangaroo Island Art Feast is an annual celebration of art, food and wine - fusing restaurants, wineries and foodies with local artists and special events. From 2nd-25th October.
  • The band is warming up, the beer is brewing and the pretzels are baking. Preparations are well underway for the 2009 Oktoberfest in Brisbane to be held over two weekends in October - 9th to 11th and 16th to 18th.

There are many more wine, food, music, art and related events on each week around the country so check out our calendar to plan your trip »


Welcome to our new Members and subscribers, and see you out and about this spring

After all that, there's not a lot I can add - except to say welcome all our new subscribers who have recently joined us from NSW and elsewhere, and we hope you enjoy your newsletter, our websites VisitVineyards.com and WineprosArchive and the fabulous experiences and offers that we are bringing you right around the country this spring.

Please give generously to the Heart Foundation when they come knocking in September - or donate online now -  and remember that A$10 from each VisitVineyards.com Membership sold this month will go directly to funding their research and manning their hotlines. $10 funds just two calls - but one of them could save your life, or that of one of you family or friends.

And for your medicinal doses of red wine, consider joining The Wine Society - be amongst the first 20 to join them this month using code VINE000 and you'll receive  a free double VisitVineyards.com Membership or an extension to your existing Membership.

If you're a Wine Society member already, then upgrade to VisitVineyards.com Membership today and save A$30-50, plus get a free tchillbag AND an entry to wine the Grange. I'm nearly down to my last bottle of this fabulous vintage so I want it to go to a very good home!

Lastly, show your support to the Yarra Valley as they rebuild - don't forget to visit these two events pages to read about their twin festivals in October, and for your chance to win one of two double VisitVineyards.com Memberships: Shedfest on 10-11 Oct and Nillumbik Open Cellars Weekend 17-18 October »

 

To all your good health, and a great spring

Robyn Lewis and the VisitVineyards.com team

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