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Beat the winter blues – food and wine news, events and weekends to enjoy


July is well underway and in Australia and New Zealand for most of us, that means cold! But rather than let the weather get you down, it's also a great time to get out into our wonderful food and wine regions, to toast yourself by an open fire, defrost in a spa, and unwind with some choice red wines.

It's also time for some nurturing food – stave off the colds and flu by keeping up your fresh veggie supply. This edition is food-inspired: reviews, news and travel, some recipes, plus lots of events of course.

If you're on the road in Queensland, Victoria or Tasmania (yes, we know, we're working on the RAA, NRMA and RACWA :), scroll down and check out the great wine savings all members of the AAA can enjoy in those states.

For those of you who love our competitions, they're stilll here, on the right hand menu (or click here to go direct to our WIN page). Find out of you are one of last month's lucky winners, too.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of July from Robyn and the VV team.

Food news and reviews

Mr Wilkinson's vegetables

Welcome to the world of warming, tasty vegetables

Mr Wilkinson's Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson is a mixture of cheffy and home-cook recipes to inspire a long and healthy lifetime of good and adventurous eating. You'll love this book, even if your garden consists only of a few planter boxes on your balcony, or if you frequent farmers' markets or want to make supermarket veggies taste deliciously different »

Food and cookbook reviews this month:

  • The Starter Kitchen by Callum Hann – Runner-up in the second series of MasterChef Australia, Callum presents a collection of great recipes developing key cooking skills along with helpful information and advice. Particulaly good for young students and those who missed learning how to LOVE to cook »
  • Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff – In this delightful and heartwarming book, Rilka Warbanoff takes us back more than 100 years and charts the course of her family's journey from Bulgaria to contemporary Melbourne. In 180 recipes, she shares with us her happy, sad and frequently funny memories of family and food »

Food travel

Tuscan Sun - cookbook

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes

When Frances Mayes fell in love with Tuscany and wrote Under the Tuscan Sun, she started an affair that led to millions of readers around the world sharing her dream.

Now, in her first cookbook, Frances and her husband Edward, introduce their Tuscan friends and offer a deliciously tangible toast to la dolce vita by sharing a collection of favourite recipes and stories from 21 wonderful years of feasting in Tuscany »

For more culinary travel adventures: VisitVineyards.com/tours »

Food and wine events

Yulefest in the Blue Mountains

The Kangaroo Island Food Safari kicks off at the Southern Ocean Lodge in August and charts a route of culinary discovery across Kangaroo Island in search of fabulous food and wine.

Join South Australia's own much-loved food legends Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant for the KI Food Safari 25-31 Aug »

Plus more tempting food events around the country:

Find food events near you: VisitVineyards.com/calendar »
More about what's on: VisitVineyards.com/events »

Event organisers and marketers, don't forget you can list your food and wine events on our calendar FREE. Simply go to VisitVineyards.com/MyAccount and enter your event details.

Auto club savings – Tasmanian food and wine

Josef Chromy

Touring Tasmania in winter, you can enjoy crisp sunny days on the road or times when a warm welcome is more than welcome!

Our featured partners this month will greet you with warmth and a special offer for members of RACT (or any affiliated motoring organisation) who visit:

Josef Chromy (Launceston):  a place where the wine suits the food and the food loves the wine. This is a great offer. Save 15% at the cellar door and 10% off your restaurant bill  »

Panorama Vineyard (Cradoc): perched on a hillside next to the beautiful Huon River, warm yourself at the wood fire while tasting the wines. Save 10% »

Cable Station (Stanley): discover for yourself why MasterChef loved Stanley and its produce. Stay and dine and save 10% »


Auto Club savings – Victoria's wine regions

Bests Wine

When you head out into the country, whichever direction you take there are friendly cellar doors full of wonderful wines to taste. And if you carry an RACV card (or any other motoring organisation card), then there are handy savings to be enjoyed as well:

Montara Winery (Ararat): the panorama of plains, mountains and vines is the backdrop for their mud brick cellar door. Savour their wines then save 20% on your purchases  »

Bests Wine (Great Western): one of Australia's oldest family owned and operated wineries. The cellar door is a history adventure in itself, not to mention the award-winning wines. Absolutely worth a stop on the Melbourne-Adelaide drive. Save 10% »

Lucinda Estate (Leaongatha): just an hour and a half from Melbourne en route to Wilson's Prom, taste award winning pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz, all reflecting the cool climate and terroir of the estate. Save 10-15% at the cellar door »

Fifty more places to save at: RACV.VisitVineyards.com/save »

Auto Club savings – Queensland wine and coffee

Summit Estate Wines

Hit the road in winter, pack your RACQ (or any affiliated motoring organisation) card and enjoy some great wine tasting and, appropriately, a cheering cup of coffee and a tasty treat.

Featured this month and offering a warm winter welcome and special discount are:

Summit Estate Wines (Thulimbah, Granite Belt): the views and natural scenery are breathtaking in any season. Be guided through the extensive range of wines by the friendly team and save 10% on your cellar door purchases »

Quinney's Coffee Shop (Eagle Heights, Tamborine Mountains): award winning chef Tony Quinn creates all the treats on the premises including beef and wine pies, perfect for winter lunch along with a steaming coffee. Yum! Save 10% »

Hidden Creek (Ballandean, Granite Belt): definitely worth seeking out in the rugged hills for their elegant whites and serious reds. Try the current Strange Bird wines (viognier and tempranillo) and save 15% at the cellar door »


WinePros Archive – what is it?

The late Len Evans, AO OBE

Several of you noted in our recent survey that you either hadn't heard of WinePros, or asked what the site is for.

As some of you will know, Winepros was started in 1999 by the late great Len Evans and wine legend James Halliday. They were certainly ahead of their time online, but sadly in 2004 their company closed. The website was then taken over by three successive companies, and by 2007 it was about to be shut down altogether.

I realised that this was a significant part of Australia's wine history, and rather than let it disappear, purchased what was left from the then owners in Adelaide.

Over the next few months we opened it up and made it free, and converted it to an archive – that is, no new material is posted to it, and all updated information on wineries is put on the VisitVineyards.com website (the name was changed to WinePros Archive).

It's there for anyone to delve into, and while some of the information is now dated, there are many generic articles (eg on grape varieties, regional geography etc) which are fine. It's also a great resource for tasting notes for those of you who have ageing wines in your cellars.

One day, probably not too far away, the server will die. If you know much about computers and servers, those build in 1999 are veritable antiques, and really it's a miracle that it's lasted so long!

We can't move it, speed it up, change the design, update it (several of you asked for improvements – it's just technically impossible) and the day something breaks, that's it, as there are no spares. We look after it as best we can, and respect it like the vintage resource that it is.

So, if you're into wine, enjoy WinePros while you can – it's there to delve into for free, and is an amazing repository of articles, tasting notes and information on wine and wine regions around the world.

All the best from Robyn, Kerry, Andrew, Trish and the VV team.