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Cool wines, romantic food, fun festivals and exclusive offers in your February newsletter

And some fresh new giveaways to enjoy here »


February got off to a fabulous start in the Australian wine world with the hugely successful International Cool Climate Symposium hosted by Wine Tasmania in Hobart from 31 Jan to 4th Feb. International speakers included Jancis Robinson OBE, MW, Chris Foss and Belinda Kemp from the UK, Andy Reynolds, Gary Pickering and Tony Shaw from Canada, Wendy Stuckey and Andrew Landers from the USA, Stan Beurskens from the Netherlands and Pierre-Yves Bournérias from France.

Cool climate wines are in increasing demand globally, and it was great to hear their views. International guests included David Furer, a Contributing Editor of Sommelier Journal from the US, wine writers Sarah Ahmed and Sally Easton MW from the UK, and again many more – and not forgetting the guest speaker at the fantastic dinner, Nobel Laureate Prof. Brian Schmidt. More that one person at first thought Brian was an after-dinner impersonator, until they learnt that he has his own pinot vineyard and winery Maipenrai just out of Canberra, his passion when not star-gazing or globe-trotting!

Kiwis were thick on the ground, and included Michael Trought and Clare Grose from Marlborough, Glen Creasy, Brian Jordan from Lincoln and Olga Makhotkina from Auckland Universities (a big hint for keeping your savvy blanc fresh – store at 5C), and many more, including pinot noir master Larry McKenna spied in the crowd.

Then there were the Aussies – the highly esteemed Andrew Pirie, Ross Brown of Brown Brothers, Bob Dambergs and Dr Richard Smart, amonst many others. You might be pleased to know that I spoke about using new media to communicate the cool climate wine message, too. 

Hot topics included everything from the effect of UV on grapes, to emerging regions resulting from climate changes (did you know that wine is now being made in Holland and Denmark?), 'alternative' varieties for cooler wine regions (such as Italians varieties erbaluce, manzoni bianco, pignoletto and rebo, a merlot cross), and the role of indigenous yeasts in wine making.

Then there was the food (including a dinner by Chef Tetsuya Wakuda, who is as humble and generous in person as his food is delicious) and the wine! The tastings were simply spectacular, with pinot noirs from Tasmania and other Australian regions up against some of the best from New Zealand, Oregon and Burgundy. Champagne sparkled too in another international taste-off.

In all, it was hugely successful, and Australian wine lovers should all be proud that this conference was hosted so successfully in our own country. It won't be on again until 2016, and that will be in the UK, which is now producing some sparkling wines aiming to rival those of Champagne.

Meanwhile, elsewhere around our vast country, summer rolls on, Valentine's Day is next week (check out some suggestions below if you're a last-minute planner of romance), but sadly, more floods inundate parts of northern NSW and Queensland.

As I write we don't have many reports of those affected yet, but our thoughts are with your all, especially those on the land. Stay safe everyone!


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  Celebrate the New Year and win a magical 11 day holiday for two in the tropics


Tropical Queensland – there's no place quite like it, especially in the middle of winter when southern Australia is feeling the chill! The sparkling waters of the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, the marine life at your fingertips and the super relaxed lifestyle.... we love it :)

If you missed out on winning the fabulous 11 day holiday in Queensland's answer to the Caribbean – the Whitsunday islands – last December, well, do we have something exciting for you?!

The great folk at Roam Media and Do the Whitsundays have organised another spectacular holiday in this island paradise for one lucky subscriber to win in 2012.

Please, only enter if you and your someone special could cope with cruising, diving and definitely relaxing over eleven long days! Whet your tropical appetite with this itinerary – very suited to those planning a driving tour of North Queensland, perhaps – and enter for your chance to enjoy paradise in Australia now »

[And here's a romantic postscript to the last competition, drawn in December: the winner, a subscriber, proposed to his girlfriend after he learnt of his win, and they now plan to get married in the Whitsundays as part of the holiday !]


If you are touring of some of Queenland's lovely food and wine regions this year, and you're a member of an automotive organisation like NRMA, RACV, RACQ or any state or international AAA, you can now save at one of 19 wine locations in the sunshine state.

Just launched in January and soon to grow, and the RACQ announce 'Wine and Food Selections for RACQ', an exciting new program for wine, food and travel lovers in Queensland.

Check out the list of participants here and read more about some of their special offers below.

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  The Visit Vineyards iPhone app, win Grange and save in Victoria with RACV


We're getting lots of great feedback from around the world about the Visit Vineyards iPhone app, which gives you access to info on all vineyards, wineries, food makers, growers etc around Australia on your iPhone or iPad.

So handy for your travels, or even if you are at home and just want to check out a bit more about your fave winery, or that new label you saw at the local wine store, or to find nearby restaurants, accommodations, provedores and more.

One very happy person who downloaded the app in December took home the bottle of Penfolds Grange 1989 – and reports to us that she is drinking it with her husband on their first wedding anniversary coming up soon (another romantic sigh!). She's a frequent visitor to the Hunter Valley so we hope she enjoys using the app there.

But hey, if you missed out, we're giving away the partner bottle to this glorious wine in March, when once again we run our annual survey, and you get your chance to send us your feedback. (Look out for our March newsletter for more details).


Download the Visit Vineyards iPhone app from iTunes here, and enjoy your wine and food travels even more »

Our friends at RACV in Victoria have just launched their own iPhone app for Show Your Card and Save benefits for their members (and visitors to Victoria from other states and countries who are members of AAA, NRMA, RAA, RACQ etc), which can be downloaded from iTunes here »

All 55 vineyards, wineries and now even a cidery who are participants in the Wine and Food Selections Program for RACV are listed by location in this app, giving them even greater exposure to travellers in regional Victoria – and, of course, discounts of up to 20% if you are a member of an automotive association.

So if you are an RACV, NRMA or other AAA member and are visiting Victoria, download their app for all locations of where to save with your RAC card.

Don't have an iPhone or simply want to look online now? Check out the full range of participants in the Wine and Food Selections Program for RACV here »

Or if you have a vineyard, winery, distillery, food outlet or restaurant and want to be involved, please email Kerry at for more information.

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  WINE AND TRAVEL plus news and reviews



Feel the love this Valentine's Day (or for a little romance any time of the year) with a romantic vineyard stay. Wake up overlooking the vines – what could be nicer?

Wine and travel writer Winsor Dobbin reveals some of his favourite places to stay right in Australia's vineyards, ranging from self-catering cottages to luxury wine resorts »



In September of 2010, 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. These articles are great wine reading, and are packed with detailed tasting notes of some of Australia's greatest wines:

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



Our resident expert and world-famous oenologist Ian Hickinbotham discussed volumetric tax on wine, what this might mean for you, and tells us some things we may not know about wine and winemaking »





  • Sydney's Best Harbour and Coastal Walks – Unsure about using your feet to enjoy the sights of Sydney? The 37 fantastic walks covered in this bestselling colour guide will help you to explore and appreciate the more natural parts of Sydney regardless of your fitness level and experience »
  • Melbourne's Best Bush, Bay and City Walks – A full colour guide to over 40 Melbourne walks. Melbourne is a city of discovery – there's something new every time you visit – and this guide captures the diversity the city has to offer in the variety of walks included »
  • Gourmet Walking Tour of Hobart visiting Hobart? Meet the people who stir the pot of this city's blossoming food scene with Gourmania Food Tours. Sample delicous Tassie produce on a walking tour with a difference. subscribers receive a 10% discount if you book a tour before the end of February. Details here »



  • Authentic Wine is a pioneering book about the state of natural wine, a hot topic in the wine world today.  Find out what it means and why is wine's diversity under threat.  Receive 20% off plus free postage when you order your copy here »
  • Great, Grand and Famous Champagnes: Behind the Bubbles is the Australian winner of the French Wine category in the 2011 Gourmand Book Awards. Follow the sparkling journey of the drink that epitomises celebration in this lavishly designed book. Buy direct and save 15% »


More exclusive subscriber savings can be found on our home page in the right hand column.

  FOOD: Reviews and new cookbooks some food for love


Tetsuya's Pursuit of Excellence on DVD

Capturing the Australian story of a world-renowned restaurateur, this DVD traces this lovely journey with respect and insight, and captures the humility, the gratitude and the talent that makes Tetsuya Wakuda one of the food world’s greats. This DVD is a foodie's delight and not to be missed »


Heading to Vietnam? Get the insiders' advice for dining on the streets

Co-author of Vietnamese Street Food Tracey Lister is a former Melbourne chef, who went to Vietnam with husband Andreas Pohl over a decade ago, and never looked back. This book is their joint production and the product of some dedicated food sleuthing, and is a great souvenir of Vietnam, too »


Ever month we REVIEW some new and exciting cookbooks to come our way.

Here are a few good cookbooks to put some passion into your cooking:

At we don't just print the media releases, we actually read and thoroughly review those we think worthy (and those we don't, we leave out!). Then we tell you if they are worth the money, and what style they are, so you can choose more easily.

Here are some of our recent picks:



According to one of the most influential wine writers in the world, Jancis Robinson MW, sommeliers are now leading the way – in the USA especially – in developing our tastes for new wines. And California's Evan Goldstein is amongst the world's best sommeliers. So wine lovers should take note.

One of our favourite food and wine matching books is his Daring Pairings, because it focusses on the tastes of emerging wine varieties. Receive 20% off and free postage when ordering this excellent book »


More exclusive subscriber savings can be found on our home page in the right hand column.

  EVENTS: Food and wine events around Australia


Holidays may have come to an end, but summer is still with us in Australia, and some of the biggest events and festivals on the food and wine calendar, like Valentine's Day and the tail of Chinese New Year (2012 is The Year of the Dragon).

The largest celebration of its kind anywhere in the world is coming: don't miss the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2-21 March when Melbourne and Victoria burst with hundreds of flavoursome food and wine events. This year Melbourne celebrates 20 years with 20 days of eating and drinking »


More FOOD AND WINE EVENTS around Australia

ACT:  From gourmet food to exquisite wines and with over 100 exhibitors in Canberra to tantalise your taste buds – Canberra Food and Wine Expo, 17-19 Feb »

SA: Adelaide is again showcasing the best wine, food and regional tourism experiences it has to offer and all under the one roof in the heart of the city – 2012 Cellar Door Wine Festival, 24-26 Feb »

Qld: In Stanthorpe, the capital of Queensland's Granite Belt, celebrates the harvest of apples and wine grapes during this three day street party and iconic Queensland event – Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival, 2-4 Mar »

Tas: Held at Ranelagh this festival showcases fine food, wine, arts, crafts and entertainment from the Huon Valley, D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island regions of Tasmania – A Taste of the Huon, 11-12 Mar »

The annual Festivale, one of Tasmania's premier events, is also on this coming weekend in Launceston »

NSW: Join author and foodie Jackie French in Moruya as the region's food producers gather to showcase their wares alongside cooking demonstrations and all kinds of gastronomic revelry – Southeast Harvest Regional Food Festival 2012, 16-17 Mar »

WA: One of Western Australia's premier cultural events and held in Perth, this is a feast of joyous, cutting-edge performances and activities for all ages – Perth International Arts Festival, 10 Feb-3 Mar »


There are hundreds more wine and food events and festivals on every month around Australia in our national wine and food events calendar here »

(And if you are holding one yourself, please make sure you list it on page, so that our 40,000+ subscribers and more site visitors can see it – it's free and very easy to DIY.)


  WIN new release and classic wines, the ultimate WA Wine Guide and more great books

We're welcoming the new year with a brand new wine from Brash Higgins, the rather esoteric Nero d'Avola, an Australian First Families of Wine duo plus a range of other wonderful food and wine books, just for you.

Plus there are more quick win prizes available on the VisitVineyards Facebook page, if you are a Facebook fan too. We're giving away some great prizes every couple of days, so check it out on Facebook.

  • Brash Higgins is the new label created by Brad Hickey, whose mission is to create new and different wine styles. The newly released Nero d'Avola – Amphora Project (NDV) is just that. You could win one of two mixed half cases, including the NDV.

    Read more about Brad, this fascinating wine, amphorae, and enter here »
  • South Australia's Eden Valley is renowned for producing world-class rieslings and the 2007 Karra Yerta is an excellent example. It's made from 80 year old vines that obviously love their special location, consistenly producing classic Eden Valley rieslings. We have two half cases to be won »
  • Discover the personalities and stories behind Australia's twelve First Families of Wine with Graeme Lofts' excellent book Heart and Soul (which has just been nominated for a presigious award in the forthcoming Paris Book Fair).

    While you're reading about them, sip on a delicious Bobbie Burns Shiraz from one of the first families, Campbells of Rutherglen. Enter now to win this perfect duo »
  • For more than 30 years, Ray Jordan has been writing about wine. His annual guide to 'the best of the west' is always eagerly awaited by all WA wine lovers and the 2012 edtion is as impressive  as ever. Win one of five copies of this excellent wine guide »
  • Have you ever wondered who inspired domestic goddess Dame Edna Everage? It may have been Tasmania's Marjorie Bligh, a doyenne of the household and pioneer recycler. Now over 94 and still no slouch in the kitchen, her life story makes for entertaining reading. We have four copies of Housewife Superstar to give away »
  • Add some Spanish sizzle to your entertaining with help from Miguel's Tapas. Whatever the time of day or night, Miguel Maestre has some delicious little dishes to spark the conversation, laughter and enjoyment. Enter here and you could win one of two copies »

On Facebook or Twitter and like the chance to win more wonderful food and wine books? With our instant wins through February, you could pick up a copy of the sumptuous Produce to Platter Geelong, food and wine matching advice from Kate Lamont or Ryn and Cordie or some of our other favourite books. Details here »

Winners: start the new year with a prize from! Check our Winners' page and see if your name appears. We've added even more names to the list this month so don't miss out – if you don't claim your prize we give it to someone else!

  VISITVINEYARDS.COM MEMBERS: benefits and experiences just for you

Here's just a small selection of the special offers for Members around the wine regions:

  • Voyager Estate (WA): will extend a very special thank you for visiting their stunning estate with a choice of two offers »
  • Domaine Asmara (Vic): order a delicious Winemakers Platter and bottle of their premium wine for just $50, saving you 40% »
  • Montalto (Vic): a visit to the Mornington Peninsula isn't complete without experiencing Montalto. Members will receive a complimentary wine flight with their meal »
  • Grandvewe Cheese (Tas): discover Tasmania's only sheep milk cheesery and taste 15 different cheese (with wine if you like!). Members receive a generous 20% discount on purchases »

Members can enjoy these and 200 other special extras that Membership brings – join us (or renew your Membership) today »

You can access the full list of benefits on your mobile here (free, no app download required, works on all mobile phones) »

  SUMMER SAVINGS for members of RACV, NRMA etc in wine regions


The summer of sipping and saving continues around Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania for members of RACV, RACQ and RACT or any affiliated motoring organisations*.


Around the state, large and small wineries alike offer you a special discount when you visit their cellar door:

  • Boat O'Craigo Vineyards (Yarra Valley): boutique producer of estate grown wines. Save 20% »
  • Delatite Winery (Goulburn Valley): small winery specialising in aromatic whites. Save 15% »
  • Pfeiffer Wines (Rutherglen): elegant wines plus luscious muscats and topaques. Save 10% »
  • Purple Hen Wines (Port Phillip): enjoy the great  views, the premium wines plus save 10% or more »
  • Windy Ridge (Gippsland): all wines grown, made and bottled at the vineyard by the owners. Save 10% »

Whatever direction your travels take you, make sure you pack your RACV* card and check before you go. Or take these great offers on the road with our iPhone app!



Along with the fine wines, you can also enjoy a meal or coffee with these special offers:

  • Hidden Creek (Granite Belt): delicious characterful wines that perfectly match food. Save 15% »
  • Q'land Wine Centre (Nth Tambourine): wines from 15 premier wineries under one roof. Save 10% »
  • Summit Estate Wines (Granite Belt): elegant European style wines, a country setting and you save 10% »
  • Cedar Creek Estate Restaurant (Nth Tambourine): enjoy a relaxing lunch in the garden setting and save 10% on wine and food »
  • Quinney's Coffee Shop (Eagle Heights): home-made delights perfect with locally grown coffee. Save 10% »

Discover more wine and food selections just for you at and don't forget to slip your membership card in your wallet!



North and south of the island state both offer a range of special offers for RACT* members:

  • Josef Chromy (Launceston): a beautiful setting for lunch and/or some wine tasting. Save 10% on  dining and 15% on wine purchases »
  • Rocky Gardens (Tamar Valley): tasty award-winning preserves, sauces and jams with no need for artificial anything. Save 15%»
  • The River House (Tamar Valley): the perfect base for wine-touring with beautiful views to come home to. Save 10% »
  • Panorama Vineyards (Huon Valley): lovely wines, delectable ports and liqueurs and a warm welcome plus you save 10% »
  • Pooley Wines (Coal River Valley): fine wines available from the beatiful and historic cellar door at Belmont Lodge. Save 15% »

Discover where you can save on more of Tassie's best food and wine at


* Are you a current member or policy holder of  RACT, RACV, NRMA, RAA, RACQ, RANZ, AAA etc (including visitors from overseas)? Then you qualify for all these discounts too! Simply show your card to save.

Click on the logos for each state at the left to see where you can save on your wine and food travels.


Keep up to date with the latest news from - you can find us on Twitter and Facebook and now on Google+

  We welcome our 40,000th subscriber!

And now, let's hear from your vineyard (or microbrewery, cidery, distillery, farm, provedore or restaurant) pet.

The team of is celebrating the arrival of our 40,000th subscriber in January. They, and another subscriber drawn randomly, have each won a delicious half dozen rosé wines from our friends at De Bortoli in Victoria's Yarra Valley.

Please check our Winners' page to see if you are one of the lucky recipients.

This is a great milestone for us, and we thank each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement. I'm sure the growers and makers of our fabulous wines and other brews, foods and more appreciate it, too.

Does your vineyard (or winery, restaurant etc) have a dog, cat or dragon?

It's the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and what better time that to unearth some of our more unusual (or just plain fun, personable or interesting) vineyard pets?

MOG our mascot (pictured left) wants some company, and he'd love to see your furry, scaly or feathered friend featured on too.

So if your cat is the best at welcoming visitors, your dog's a star at grape tasting, or you have a pig in the pantry (well, not quite!), we want to hear from you! Simply click here and fill in the form, telling us (as wittily as possible) about your pet and their life, and e us some images for consideration.

Until then, enjoy Valentine's Day, and we look forward to another exciting year on, Australia's leading online wine and food travel guide.

And we wish our oldest subscriber, one of Australia's leading philanthropists Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, a very happy 103rd birthday today.

See you on the website and our next newsletter in mid-March, from

Robyn, Kerry, Andrew, Trish and the team

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