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'Tis the season to celebrate with wine, food, friends and holidays



It's mid December and how 2011 has flown..... I can't believe there are only a few weeks left. Everyone is busy at this time of year, so I won't chat for long, except to say thank you for your support in 2011.

Like many in Australia, we've had our ups and downs this year, but one highlight was being part of the biggest wine industry fundraiser ever, in which – along with Queensland wine writer Tyson Stelzer and his team – we raised over A$275,000 for those affected by the floods and cyclone in Queensland, and Victoria. It was largely thanks to the generosity of you, our subscribers (and of course the incredible prize donors). Thank you all. And to the 200 lucky winners, we hope you are enjoying drinking or cellaring your prizes.

Sometime very soon, we'll be welcoming our 40,000th subscriber, a big milestone! We'll be showering them with a gift of rosé wines, to celebrate the rosé revolution this summer. Another one of you will receive a random rosé gift too. So stay tuned over summer, and you might be enjoying chilled pink wine in the sun....

We have lots more happening of course – a huge number of events over the Australian and NZ summer in our wine and food events calendar; take your pick from New Year parties to tasting wine and seafood. Yum!

One big event in late January/early February is the International Cool Climate Symposium, which is for those in the wine industry and interested consumers alike. The eminent wine writer Jancis Robinson MW will be presenting along with other international guest speakers – if you are serious about your wines, this is one you can't miss (the first time it's been held in Australia). The package includes a dinner by Tetsuya Wakuda, and you can also meet me, the founder.  Subscribers qualify for an exclusive bonus here »

Then there are our Top 12 wine and food book selections below – gifts for you or the wine and food lover in your life – and we announce the very lucky winners of our two major prizes of 2011: the amazing 11-day holiday for two in Queensland's Whitsundays, and the gourmet week in Tasmania. Scroll down to see who won.

If it wasn't you, there's always this month! The generous folk in the Whitsundays have put together another fantastic 11 day vacation to be won, this one more a drive-based holiday for those heading to the sun in the car or campervan in 2012. Plus lots more wine and food giveaways in our competitions section below.

2011 has also been the year of the mobile – more and more people are using smartphones. The Visit Vineyards iPhone app hit the iTunes store in September and is proving a great guide to wine and food travel, whether you are out touring the regions, or at home (over overseas) doing a bit of Australian wine research. Download yours before the holidays if you get a chance. It's free.

And don't forget, if you're a member of an auto club in Australia or any AAA club overseas, you qualify for our great wine and food discounts in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. South Australia is coming in 2012, and we hope Western Australia too! Show your support to our fabulous producers and get out and buy from the source – you're assured of a warm welcome, as are our VIP Members, and some great treats and bargains.

So enjoy this last newsletter of 2012 – we love putting it together, and hope you'll find something fun and interesting below. Forward it to yourself at home if you like, to read over a glass of wine, ale or cider!


In this edition:

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The free Visit Vineyards iPhone app – mobile Australian wine, food and travel


The Visit Vineyards iPhone app gives you mobile access to 5000 Australian wineries, vineyards and cellar doors, plus restaurants, accommodations, tours, food makers and sellers, markets, activities and more – on the go. Don't head to regional Australia without it. It's great for looking up wine and food info at home, too.

No listings are paid for, so the app gives you comprehensive and independent information, nationwide. But best of all, it's free.

One of Australia's leading sommeliers, Dan Sims from The Wine Guide, says:

'The Australian (wine country) is as diverse as it is wide, and being able to easily navigate your way through the various wine regions, both large and small, is essential.

What I like about the Visit Vineyards app is that it not only offers the user relevant and up to date information on winery cellar-doors, accommodation, local attractions, festivals and dining destinations (you name it, actually), it is very easy to use which is what you want when you're on the move.

Plus, you also won't lose your way thanks to the in built maps.  Oh, and it's free; you got to love that!'

If you haven't done so already, download the app now, or update to the latest version (1.3.1) which has the new icon (shown at the top left of this newsletter), and some other improvements. Enjoy!

Dream holidays in the Whitsundays and Tasmania become reality!


We've had a heap of fun selecting the winners of the Tasmanian and Whitsundays holidays! What a fabulous range of entries, from poems to romance, pleas from wine and food lovers, those sick of their kids or needing a second honeymoon.... So many to choose from!

However, there were two clear standouts, and for those very lucky people their dreams are about to become reality! Is one of them you? Find out here..... »

But don't be too disappointed if you missed out. The fabulous folk at Roam Media and Do the Whitsundays have arranged another very special Whitsundays holiday prize for 2012.

Do you fancy a holiday for two in this spectacular island paradise? What about cruising and flying, diving and perhaps even taking a plunge of a different sort with a marriage or re-affirmation ceremony? These are all part of this amazing holiday.

It's a recipe for relaxation and rejuvenation, to be savoured over eleven long days. Read on for the full, intensely relaxing and exciting itinerary and enter now for your chance to win this holiday»

Existing subscribers (that's you) receive an additional chance to win this exciting holiday by simply forwarding this newsletter to a wine, food and/or travel loving friend – for everyone you forward it to (not yourself, please – we do read them!), you receive an extra chance to win.

WINE and BEER:  Wine reviews, offers and gift ideas for the festive season



Are you still wondering what to give the wine and beer lover in your life for Christmas? Check out our list of Top 12 Wine and Beer Books for 2011 and you'll be sure to find some great inspiration for the festive season.

Match one of these with a favourite bottle or dozen for the perfect gift, or simply buy one for yourself for holiday reading.'s Top 12 Wine and Beer Books of 2011 »

Want to find out more?

Wine, Terroir and Climate Change by Dr John Gladstones  – Recently inducted into the Gourmand Wine Books Hall of Fame 2011, this is the first Australian book to receive this prestigious honour. Find out why this book has the international wine world in vigorous debate »

Reading between the wines by Terry Theise – A beautifully written book on wine and the families that make it. Discover the world of European wines, more precisely those from Germany, Austria and Champagne, and the small dedicated producers. This book deserves a place in every serious wine library »

An Ideal Wine by David Darlington – An engaging book on the emergence and growth of the Californian wine industry from the 1970s on, principally through the eyes of wine wit Randall Grahm. It's a fascinating book that's hard to put down. If you're interested in wine, this is a great read »

Australian Wine Companion 2012 Edition by James Halliday – The definitive guide to Australian wine with tasting notes for over 60,000 wines and with ratings and reviews of 2,500 wineries (around half of those currently existing in Australia). A valuable companion in the ongoing search for great Australian wines »

Top 100 South African Wines 2011 by Robin von Holdt – Long overdue, this is an excellent introduction to the best wines of 2011 in South Africa and is highly recommended at the price. If you would like to look at South African wines in a new light, this book will get you off to a great start »



Interested in Australia's First Families of Wine? Graeme Lofts has captured their stories and characters in his inspriing book, Heart and Soul. Any lover of Australian wine and the people who produce it wil enjoy this book, which has recently been nominated for the 2011 Blake Sawson Business Literature Prize.

As a subscriber you save 20%. Click here to claim your discount (but don't delay if you want delivery in time for Christmas) »

Looking for something a little different? Train or test out your nose – it's educational, and a great party game too.  Le Nez du Vin aroma kits could add some fun to the festive wine tastings and the Essential Wine Tasting Guide would be a great stocking filler. Subscribers save on both here »



In September of last year, fourteen wine professionals from around the world gathered in Australia's Yarra Valley for, without exaggeration, the tasting experience of a lifetime.

Participating Beijing-based wine expert Edward Ragg provides an in-depth review of the Landmark Tutorial in a 14 part series. Great wine reading packed with detailed tasting notes of some of Australia's greatest wines:

More of the 14 part series will be featured in our February newsletter or you can read the complete series now on here »


FOOD: Favourite cookbooks and new releases to fill the Christmas stocking



Cookbooks are often number one on food-lovers' Christmas lists, so here are VisitVineyard's Top 12 Cookbooks for 2011 to help make your gift buying easier.

We dig a little deeper than most, and have found some great books that you won't necessarily see featured in the mainstream press. So, what made the Top Dozen food books this year? Which ones inspired us, made us want to rush into our kitchens and filled us with dreams?

With kitchen travel, Michelin stars and funky health at home high on the culinary agenda, the 2011 cookbook award winners are..... »



Indochine by Luke Nguyen – Unhesitatingly awarded's Number One Cookbook for 2011. A work of passion and love, this is an outstanding book that will not only delight the home cook but also inspire the professional. Discover the French-inspired food of Vietnam through the eyes of Luke Nguyen »

Possum Pie, Beetroot Beer and Lamingtons by Victoria Heywood – A trip down memory lane with Australian family recipes from 1868 to 1950. Often hilarious, this is a great addition to your cookbook collection. Don't be put off by the name as some hidden gems and inspirational ideas lie within »

The Country Show Cookbook – Handed down from generation to generation or a twist on the traditional, these recipes are favourites from country shows in New South Wales. This cookbook with its delightful recipes is guaranteed to warm both the heart and the home »

Summer Cooking – Warm evenings, outdoor eating and of course, food and wine shared with family and friends. With over 250 recipes, this book isn't culinary cutting edge but rather will provide inspiration for your next get together with family and friends along with some whole new taste sensations »

Celebrate! with food and wine by Victoria Heywood – Fill your year with feasts and festivities with this collection of meals, party foods and sweet treats for a range of special occasions. With recipes and wine matches for events year round, Celebrate! takes all the stress out of catering for family and friends »


If you are looking for places to shop, eat, drink and be merry in Melbourne over the festive season then look no further than the guides below.


Making it easy to find the best food and wine in Queensland, the Courier-Mail has produced a comprehensive guide. Though the 2011 edition has now sold out, it should be available again in the new year.


Last, but not least if you are still searching for the perfect present, then why not give the gift of accommodation for a relaxing or romantic getaway?

There's something special about waking up to the sight of grape vines from your bedroom window. Wine and travel writer Winsor Dobbin reveals some of his favourite places to stay in vineyards; ranging from self-catering cottages to luxury resorts. Why not sample one of his Top ten Australian vineyard escapes? »


WINE and FOOD EVENTS around Australia – Celebrate the festive season!


It's time to celebrate all the things we love about our Australian summer – Christmas and New Year, beach holidays, festivals, major sporting events like the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, as well as our beloved tennis and cricket.

One of the most colourful and eccentric events on the calendar returns in January 2012 and will thrill audiences with its avant-garde program of mostly free art installations and musical performances.
MONA Festival of Music and Art will be held in Hobart on 13-22 January – more information here »


MORE EVENTS around Australia:

ACT: BE QUICK if you want to buy something handmade this Christmas from artists, designers, craftspeople and gourmets in CanberraHandmade Christmas Market, 17-18 Dec »

NSW: In the Hunter Valley enjoy fine wines and a wander through the picturesque countryside while feasting your eyes on this year's fabulous array of sculpture – Sculpture in the Vineyards, until 22 Jan »

Vic: Join in the summer fun at Ballarat with boutique beer, gourmet food and world-class entertainment – Ballarat Beer Festival, 21 Jan »

Qld: On the Gold Coast you will find gourmet food, exquisite wines and the latest cooking products along with sensational new recipe ideas and celebrity chefs – Gold Coast Food and Wine Show, 20-22 Jan »

SA: Discover your Crush in the Adelaide Hills when unique wines are vibrantly matched with art, music, fashion and fare throughout the region – Crush Food and Wine Festival, 26-29 Jan »

Tas: In Hobart celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of Tasmania's produce, gourmet food and wine – The Taste Festival, 27 Dec-2 Jan »

WA: Experience the magic of Christmas in Perth with six weeks of free activities and events – City of Perth Festival of Christmas, 11 Nov-6 Jan »


Want to find more events near you?

There are hundreds more events, festivals, dinners, tastings, tweetups, activities and exhibitions in every state (and some in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore) in the wine and food events calendar – do some culinary holiday planning here »


SUBSCRIBER OFFER on International Cool Climate Symposium be quick!

Be amongst the first 20 subscribers to book this special package and you'll receive a trio of superb Tasmanian wine. Hurry, offer closes 6th January or as soon as first 20 packages sold. Details here »

Holding a tasting? Planning Christmas festivities? Then list your own wine or food-related event

If you are a wine or food event manager or organiser and your event is not on our calendar, no matter where, or how large or small, please visit the My Account section to create your own listing, or email us and we'll help you add it the calendar »

A LOT of wine and food lovers check our our calendar every month, and you are missing FREE and widespread publicity for your event if you don't.


WIN a romantic getaway in wine country, fine wines, great books and DVDs


Every month we offer you a wonderful range of wine, food and travel giveaways, and for the festive and holiday season, there's another enticing selection of goodies. Choose one or two, or enter them all if you wish:



We've added over 40 names this week so please check our winners' page and make sure you don't miss out on a pre-Christmas delivery of your prize – including the bottle of 1989 Penfolds Grange, the gourmet week in Tasmania and eleven days in paradise.... the Whitsunday Islands!

And don't think 'I never win anything' – that's what everyone says!

Did YOU win one of our fabulous prizes? Find out here » Members – your VIP experiences await


Members, are you planning some summer wine and food travels? Then check your benefits page and pack your Membership card (along with our iPhone app of course).

Here's a small sample of the special benefits waiting for you:

Boroka Downs (Vic): an indulgent upgrade in the Grampians at this exclusive, five star couples-only bushland escape »

Aire Valley Guesthouse (Vic): special packages for two nights stay and dine and three nights stay and dine »

Urban Graze (NSW): an exclusive package for accommodation and a cooking class for two people »

Margaret River Attractions (WA): discover the majesty and wonder of the Lake, Mammoth and Jewel Caves at Margaret River and receive a discount on entry »

Cape Mentelle (WA): a private tour, tasting and degustation at a special Members' price »

There are many more wine, food and other special benefits offered exclusively to Members.

It's currently only A$39 p.a. for singles and A$59 for a couple to enjoy these benefits, all year and as many times as you wish (or renew your existing Membership for A$29 or A$49 respectively).

Join us today for these and many more exclusive VIP experiences »


Wine & Food Summer Selections in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania*


Are you a member of the RACT, RACV, RACQ* or any other affiliated state or international AAA motoring organisation? (*e.g NRMA, and others below)

Then simply show your RAC membership card at these businesses to sip, savour and save over summer!


Touring over the summer season is a gourmet's delight and there's always plenty to choose from. We've themed this selection 'cheese, wine winners and diversions':

Ashgrove Cheese: we're particularly fond of their bush pepper cheese. Or spice up your cheese platter with wasabi. Save 10% on all your Ashgrove cheese purchases »

Bruny Island Cheese: try 'Otto', cheese wrapped in locally made prosciutto – delish!  Save 10% on all »

Moore's Hill: taste the gold medal wine from the International Riesling Challenge. Save 10% on all wines »

Home Hill: more gold medal wines and a vineyard restaurant. Save 10% on food and 15% on wines »

Harmony Hill Wellness & Organic Spa Retreat: relax with a special wine-lovers package, save 10% »

Beaconsfield Mining & Heritage Centre: play with history through interactive displays. Save 15% on entry »

For more details and the full list of's Wine & Food Selections for RACT, go to our special joint website »



Not just brimming with wonderful wines, this state's wine regions also boast some great boutique breweries and coffee treats:

Hickinbotham of Dromana: fresh tap beers, brewed to the German Purity Law. Save 15% on your beers »

Bright Brewery: mountain-crafted beers brewed in the heart of Bright. Save 15% on your beer buys »

Otway Estate: hand crafted beers made with pure Otway water.Save 15% on the brews »

Coffee Basics: on-site roasting and blending creates a coffee oasis in Castlemaine. Save 15% fresh coffee »

And a very special offer for wine-lovers: 

Boynton's Feathertop Wines: the Alpine Valley provides an amazing canvas for growing wines. Taste them and save 20% on cellar door purchases »

When travelling Victoria's wine regions, carry your RACV* card and check before you go (or our iPhone app) for even more wine and food offers.



Add some tasty olives and fudge heaven to your wine travels this summer:

Coolana Olives: just an hour from Brisbane to experience the 'baked olives' taste sensation and save 15% »

Fudge Heaven: mouth-watering fudges including creme brulee, mango cream and more. Save 10% on pieces of heaven »

O'Reilly's Canunga Valley Vineyards: don't just taste the wine, learn about food matching too, just an hour from Brisbane. Save 10% on wine buys »

Riversands Wines: with a bush story in every bottle, from explorers to a woman in a wash tub! 15% off wine »

Romavilla Winery: hasn't missed a vintage since 1866 and now produces a wide range of wines and fortifieds. Sip and save 10% on wine purchases »

Before you travel the highways and byways of regional Queensland, go to for more Wine and Food Selections for RACQ* members.


*NOTE:  If you're a current member or policy holder of  RACT, RACV, NRMA, RAA, RACQ, RANZ, AAA etc (including visitors from oversease), you qualify for all these discounts too! Simply show your card to save.

Best wishes for the festive season and New Year


Once again, thank you for your support during 2011, and for those of you who've been in touch with us, your emails (and even letters and calls!) as well. We love to hear from you, especially our happy winners, and those who have enjoyed our articles, news and reviews too.

We would like to wish you all a very happy, safe and peaceful time over the festive season, and may you enjoy many wonderful wines, good food and times in the company of friends and family. Please if you are driving, take care on the roads, and we look forward to seeing you along with our 40,000th subscriber in 2012.

Season's greetings and happy Christmas from

Robyn, Kerry, Charlie, Andrew, Trish, Graham, Mike and Laura at