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It's winter wine and food time! Snuggle up and enjoy vintage news


Red wine weather has arrived in Australia, time for slow cooking and lamb shanks, mmm.... and the sun is shining in Queensland, making up for lost time earlier in the year! Vintage 2011 is finally over in all parts of the country – this year might go down as one of the most drawn out and contrary on record, starting in January in the Hunter Valley, with the last grapes being picked in the Adelaide Hills in early June.

It's been five months of trials for many, including our winemakers – you can read more on vintage 2011 below, from wine expert Ian Hickinbotham and a roundup of reports from around the country, many posted on Twitter. The picking prize goes to Riversands Vineyards on the Balonne River in Queensland, who harvested their grapes from a boat, closely followed by several vignerons in Orange who were picking after a snowstorm. Brrr.

And the wines? Some will be fine, some not as good, and for others their crops were lost entirely. Such is farming. For wine drinkers, don't write off 2011 wines – not only is it way to early too judge, but for those who picked, many sorted their fruit with great attention, and the resulting wines could be very good indeed.

At VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive , we've been busy – Queenslanders didn't lose their thirst in the floods and cyclone, or their appetites, and we're about to extend our 'Wine and Food Selections' program already operating with RACV in Victoria and RACT in Tasmania to the sunshine state. Good news for auto club members living there or those of you in other states planning a holiday in the months ahead.

We'll bring you more news of this later, but meanwhile, if you have any Queensland friends who you think might be interested, click here to let them know, and they could win a bottle of Penfolds Grange or some other great wines! They might even invite you to drink it with them :) All they have to do is go to RACQ.VisitVineyards.com and express their interest.

There's a wonderful roundup of stories in your June newsletter, so curl up by the fire, open that wine, and enjoy!

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Tasmania: blending traditional strengths with fine wine and good food

Tasmania. It's home to a wild circus of Tasmanian devils, quolls, wombats and platypus, and a World Heritage Area that claims a whopping 20 per cent chunk of the island. The island’s convict history, as rare as it is richly compelling, now has its own World Heritage stamp and the convict-built Georgian buildings define Tassie as much as the wildlife and forests.

Yet, of late, Tasmania has been blending its traditional strengths with fine wine and good food. Visitors to the island might be surprised how well a local reserve pinot noir can complement watching the wildlife, hearing convict whispers, or a meal at restaurants where local produce stars more than the chef »


A Tourism Tasmania special promotion

WINE AND FOOD TRAILS plus reviews and news


Thinking of country drives, log fires, slow cooked food and big reds, or maybe looking for somewhere for a short break or a long and leisurely weekend? There are plenty of ideas below to find that great place to stay, plus fabulous food and fine wine.



1. Geelong: Our wine and travel writer, Winsor Dobbin, has rediscovered Geelong and the pleasures of the Bellarine Peninsula:

  • Geelong, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road , has soared into the new decade with a sparkling waterfront area dotted wth restaurants, cafés and hotels. It is also surrounded by vineyards »

2. King Valley: Discover an Italian-Australian sparkling white when you travel the new Prosecco Road:

3. Bendigo: A fascinating insight into the people behind the wines across the Bendigo wine region:

  • Mixed Cases: Stories of the Bendigo Winegrowers – If you are a fan of rich red wines and a great tale then read this book and it won't be long before you are making your own plans to visit the wonderful Bendigo wine region »

4. Mornington Peninsula: Discounts of up to 15 per cent for RACV members. It's easy, just Show Your Card and Save:

5. Yarra Valley: Discounts of up to 20 per cent for RACV members. Simply Show Your Card and Save:

6. Otways: For those looking for an authentic winery experience, head to Dinny Goonan Family Estate:

7. Rutherglen: One of Australia's oldest viticultural areas and renowned for its muscats and topaques, full bodied reds and crisp whites. Perfect for winter:


The Queensland Food and Wine Touring Atlas edited by Natalie Wilson is a comprehensive guide to tasting the best on offer in Queensland:



One of the most exciting wine books to cross our desk recently is the fabulous Daring pairings by Master Sommelier, Evan Goldstein, which focusses purely on new or emerging grape varieties and matching them with recipes from thirty-five of Evan's favourite chefs.

This month, learn about roussanne and marsanne and find food pairing suggestions and recipes in our Food News And Reviews section of this newsletter.




Vintage 2011 may go down in history as one of the most difficult for winegrowers of all regions of Australia, except for some parts of Western Australia and Tasmania. Expert Ian Hickinbotham writes that rain followed by increased humidity has been the main problem »

Robyn Lewis follows with some vintage snapshots gleaned from winemakers on Twitter (suitably edited!)



FOOD: News, reviews and wine matching

So you think you want to be a chef?

If you've ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors in restaurant kitchens, then this novel is for you. Bitter Taste by first-time author David Evans lets us peer behind the kitchen doors and find out what really goes on in the high-pressure world of culinary creativity »


Mastermind meets MasterChef:

Two Asian Kitchens by 2010 MasterChef winner Adam Liaw is an inspiring, and very practical cookbook. Drawing on Asia's culinary legacy, it turns the rules on their head with amazing contemporary results »



Recently we asked our readers to write a review of a favourite cookbook for their chance to win a limited edition of The New Renaissance of Italian Fusion Cooking 1.0 »

The winning entry was from Jennifer Fearn of Victoria, with an excellent review of Formulas for Flavour by John Campbell »

Runners up included:



Pairing food with wine has never been easier with Daring pairings by Evan Goldstein as a guide. Excerpts below give us wine and food pairing ideas for rousanne and marsanne as well as fabulous recipes for the perfect match.

  • Roussanne sings with seafood – As with viognier, roussanne's food-friendliness is underrated. It matches well with rich shellfish as the texture and ripe fruit bring out the sweet flavours of scallops, crab and lobster. And bring on the butter and cream »

    Matched recipe:
    The rich lobster is a natural pairing with roussanne and is a favourite combination – Lobster cioppino »
  • Marsanne needs rich flavours – The natural acidity of marsanne and its ripe-fruit character pairs nicely with exotically spiced dishes, rich vegetables, pastas and risottos with creamy sauces and most seafood, in fact the richer the better »

    Matched recipe:
    If you like cheese fondue, you will love this dish. It is rich and bright in flavour and goes well with marsanne – Veal chops with aligot »

EVENTS: Food and wine events around Australia

There's something about cold weather that makes you feel good. With open fires, welcoming cellar doors, great food and wine and live music, what's not to like about winter? So grab that scarf and jacket and head out to some of the best winter events around the country.

Still not sure what to do on the June Queen's Birthday long weekend and looking for ideas? Here are some below but there are plenty of others in our calendar for all the other states.

More events for June and July:

Tas: At picturesque Cradle Mountain, experience one of Tasmania's iconic wilderness and epicurean experiences – Tastings at the Top, 25-27 June »

NT: For a whole lot of fun, join in this unique event in Alice Springs celebrating a great Australian icon – The Alice Springs Beanie Festival, 24-27 June »

NSW: Head to the Hunter Valley in June for a month long celebration of local wines and produce – Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month, 3-27 June. Or in July in Sydney discover a world of tastes, flavours, products and techniques and indulge your senses – Good Food and Wine Show, 1-3 July »

SA: Coonawarra vignerons dig out some treasures from their cellars to offer visitors a rare opportunity to taste and buy aged wines – Coonawarra Cellar Dwellers, 1-31 July »

ACT: July is truffle month in Canberra when the region celebrates these highly prized gems – The Capital Country Truffle Festival, 1-31 July »

WA: In Mundaring, a short 45 minute drive from Perth, is a mouth-watering opportunity to discover why the French black truffle holds a special place in the culinary world – Mundaring Truffle Festival, 30-31 July »


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

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

RACV members: plan your High Country food and wine adventures

For many of us it's a long drive to the snowfields so take your time and break up the drive this season by visiting a few of North-East Victoria’s dynamic food and wine producers.

The Boytons are one such pioneering family who have created a unique destination at their Boyton’s Feathertop winery. If great views, handcrafted wine and beer and regional food are your thing, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time here. There’s even a spot to rest your weary head. Learn more here »

Plan your trip and enjoy great RACV members discounts at these High Country gems also:

To find more discounts, click here for the full list of over 50 great discount offers across regional Victoria.

Note: Current members or policy holders of NRMA, RAA, RACT, RANZ, AAA etc also qualify for these discounts.

Do you know a great winery, restaurant or food maker? Is there a business you'd like to see in this program (perhaps your own), or in another state, that you think should join? If so, please email Sara, our friendly Victorian Alliance Manager with your suggestions.

RACT members: taste medal-winning wines and save at the cellar door

The recent International Cool Climate Wine Show had 678 entries from wineries around regional Australia and New Zealand.The quality was high, the competition intense and we’re delighted that so many Tasmanian vineyards featured in the winners list, including our RACT Partners:

And it’s not just the judges impressed with their wines. In our recent competition to win a case of premium Tasmanian wine, we asked for your favourite Tasmanian wine and these names came up again and again.

So if you’re looking for some award-winning Tasmanian wines, a friendly cellar door welcome and like a bargain, then check the list of wineries and vineyards offering special discounts for RACT (and visiting AAA*) members around Tasmania »

Is your favourite winery, microbrewery, cafe or food producer missing from the program? Please let us know or if you'd like information for your business, email Kerry Scambler, our Tasmanian Alliance Manager.

* Current members or policy holders of NRMA, RAA, RACV, RANZ, AAA etc also qualify for these discounts.

WIN Bendigo reds, Yarra Valley hot smoked salmon, craft beer and much more

It might be winter but there are prizes aplenty to take the chill from the air

There’s plenty of reading, research and recipe testing to be done and Adam Liaw brings us two Asian kitchens in one of the best-thought-out cookbooks we’ve seen recently.

  • Discover why the French black truffle is so revered and sip on regional specialty wines. Win tickets into the Mundaring Truffle Festival and Perth Hills Wine Show and two bottles of wine »
  • Like to taste the best beer in Australia? And discover the other 99 beers of the top 100? Win copies of The Critics' Choice: Australia's Best Beers and a case of Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale, enter here»
  • From rich, ripe reds to elegant whites, wines from Bendigo are a wine lover’s treasure. Win one of six half cases of delicious reds plus the book Mixed Cases that tells the stories of the winemakers »
  • Indulge in a some mouth-watering delights from boutique aquaculture farm, Yarra Valley Salmon , with award winning caviar and hand-milked hot smoked salmon. Enter now to win one of six gift packs »
  • Create your own personal food culture with inspiration and practical guidance from Two Asian Kitchens by 2010 Australian MasterChef winner Adam Liaw. We have three copies of his new book to be won »
  • Need some extra enticement to visit WA? Award winning book Pemberton Wine Region by Alex Bond captures the essence of the region with stunning photography. Enter here to win one of three copies »
  • Celebrate Sydney’s city’s flair for modern Australian cuisine with good food, top wines and much more at the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show . Four double passes to be won »
  • Foodies, spoil yourself with acclaimed local produce and delicious chocolates, luscious cheeses and of course, award-winning wines at the Perth Good Food & Wine Show . Four double passes to be won »
  • Like to sip, savour and save your favourite wines but worried about taste the second time around? Win one of six winesave ™ units, plus a bottle of either delicious Yabby Lake Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Heathcote Shiraz »

And don't forget the special  subscriber offer on the Good Food & Wine Shows in Sydney and Perth »

The VisitVineyardslcom prize shelf needs to be cleared for a special promotion we're planning soon. Please check our winners' page and email Kerry if your name appears.

Please remember to add VisitVineyards.com to your safe senders list. If our prize email notification goes to your junk folder, you might miss out!

VisitVineyards.com Members: stay, wine and dine

Looking for more than just great accommodation? As VisitVineyards.com members you will also enjoy exclusive upgrades and bonus food, wine and dining experiences at enticing accommodation destinations including: 

Want to make the most of all your regional adventures! Find out more about our selection of benefits and experiences exclusive to VisitVineyards.com Members »

Wine is social!

Drinking wine (or beer) is a very social activity; what can be better than sharing a good bottle with friends? And now we have social media, currently dominated by Facebook , which is about to announce its 700 millionth subscriber! (Yes, I'm on there, and so is VisitVineyards.com). So it seems only natural that wine + social media might be a good combo.

Sure enough, there are wine groups and pages popping up everywhere, sharing videos, tasting notes, vintage news, stories, events and specials. We estimate that there are over 500 and perhaps many more of the 4000 odd Australian vineyards and wineries now on Facebook, and many also getting onto Twitter, especially as a way of reaching the wine trade and connecting with mainstream media.

So what does it mean for wine drinkers and food lovers? Well, it's an easy way of staying in touch with a few of your fave producers, bars and restaurants, but like everything, there can be too much of a good thing. There's only so many you can follow. At VisitVineyards.com we're attempting to bring you the best in one spot, so if you're on Facebook, drop by to our page and say hi , and see what news that winemakers might have put there for you to discover.

Or follow our tweets @VisitVineyards

Meanwhile, see if you can tweet while you drink! It's a lot harder then it looks, balancing your wine and smart phone or iPad. Just don't spill any wine on it!

See you on VisitVineyards.com, or on Facebook or Twitter. Please introduce yourself and say hello.

Until next time, enjoy the start of winter (or summer!), and that red wine by the fire.

Cheers from Robyn, Sara, Kerry, Trish and Andrew and the VisitVineyards.com team.


PS Don't forget to forward this newsletter to any Queensland wine and food-loving friends who you think might be interested in our new program and winning some great wines!



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