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Your autumn and Easter wine & food news, ideas and reviews


Welcome to our autumn newsletter, as we celebrate vintage 2012 in Australia. Many regions in this big country of ours have finished harvesting their grapes of course, but in the cool climate regions towards the south, they are just getting started.

The weather gods have shone on some, and others have had to contend with floods and excess rain. Fortunately this year fires were scarce (although not all escaped damage) and in general, the vintage promises to be good. Let's all hope that the beautiful days of 'fall' continue through to Easter and beyond, and until all the crops are safely in tanks or barrels.

We don't call it fall in Australia, of course, as our native trees don't change colour and shed all their leaves at once, like they do in the northern hemisphere. But it's still a beautiful time of year, and with calm weather over most of the country, it's a great time to get out and visit wine and food regions.

We're also announcing our new Video section on the website, where you can sit back and enjoy watching wine experts Dan Sims and Ben Edwards interviewing winemakers, chatting about wine, food and generally having fun. Find them on »

Enjoy this month's newsetter and our usual bounty of great giveaways!

In this edition:

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SPECIAL FEATURE: Wine Australia's A+ Australian Wine Celebration in April!


Australia’s greatest ever wine celebration kicks off nationwide in April 2012, with close to 100 events taking place across the nation, celebrating the diversity and excellence of our local offerings.

The A+ Australian Wine Celebration launches for the first time from 12 to 29th April 2012, and all Aussies are being invited to get involved in the country’s biggest collaboration of wine events.

Held in capital cities and across many of our most beautiful regional communities, the A+ Australian Wine Celebration is set to include an exciting collection of wine, food and music festivals, meet the winemaker opportunities, gourmet dining events and exclusive tasting opportunities.

Dust off your boots and head into more than 30 wine regions who are hosting events as part of the A+ Australian Wine Celebration, or join in on the many activities happening right in your local city. It will be an unmissable opportunity for wine lovers to delve deeper into the detailed tapestry that is Australian wine

To find out more details of events to be held near you, and how to get involved, go to »

Click here for a snapshot of events across the great divide »

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 EXCLUSIVE: Eleven sun and fun-filled Whitsun-days could be yours


Do you need a break and some time to relax and re-awaken your senses? (Anyone say no?!)

How about eleven long days of sun and fun in, on and over the sparkling waters of Queensland's Whitsundays, exclusive to subscribers?

Cruising, flying, fishing, diving or perhaps taking a plunge of a different sort with a marriage or re-affirmation ceremony – along with accommodation, it’s all part of this fabulous tropical holiday. You’ll even be geared up in the perfect tropical fashion with a Beachworx shopping voucher. Sounds great to us!

Need to imagine a little more?

Think long white beaches, azure blue waters with the sun sparkling across, and underneath colourful coral and friendly fish. Balmy evenings with a glass of your favourite wine or a cold, refreshing lager in hand and then the gentle sound of the waves soothing you to sleep…

OK, wake up now, sorry but it’s time to stop dreaming. Make your day-dream come true and enter now »


P.S. The winner of our December Whitsundays holiday giveaway, Jono Hopley from Bendigo, was so ecstatic that he proposed to his girlfriend and they are getting married there later in the year :) Lovely....

And in May, you could be our next winner! Read more about this fabulous Whitsundays holiday here »

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Wine and food matching

With its relatively low alcoholic strength, appetizing acidity and lack of sickly artificial flavours, wine is the perfect accompaniment to food. Can a well-chosen wine makes food taste better? Of course it can.....

Jancis Robinson tells us the most important rule about food and wine matching is that there are no rules. You can drink any wine at all with any food – as many of you will know, even red wine with fish – and the world will continue to revolve.

There are, however, some very simple guidelines for getting the most out of particular foods and bottles. Read Jancis Robinson's expert advice here »


The Champagne Guide 2012-2013 by Tyson Stelzer

Until last year's publication of The Champagne Guide 2011 by Tyson Stelzer, there hadn't been a Champagne tasting guide for ten years. The book won Stelzer the Louis Roederer International Champagne Writer of the Year Award 2011.

This new edition – which we think is even better – rates over 400 recently-released Champagnes, all of which were personally tasted by the author. Read our review and discover the Best of Champage here »


Wine and Food Travels

  • Escape the city this Friday with V/Line – V/Line has put together an itinerary for some of the top spots for a weekend getaway in regional Victoria. Relax at a beautiful restaurant in Woodend, stroll along the waterfront in Geelong or or peruse the boutique shops in Castlemaine »


Wine by John Ellis

John Ellis first planted vines on Long Island in the 1970's and now New York wine stores sell his award-winning Australian Bellvale wines from 14,000 kms away. James Halliday in his latest 2012 Australian Wine Companion recently rated Bellvale as one of the top two South Gippsland wineries »


Vintage Report – Margaret River, Western Australia

Warm to hot conditions during the day with warmer than average nights have been the norm for the Margaret River wine region since early January and this has brought forward vintage by between 2 to 3 weeks ahead of the regional average. With whites mostly in the winery let's hope the weather gods will be kind to reds »


21st Century Australian Fine Wine: The Landmark Tutorial

In September 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:

Seminar 11 – Chardonnay blind tasting presented by Steve Webber »

Seminar 12 – Australian Fortified Wines presented by Colin Campbell and Stephen Chambers »

This is the last of the 14 part Landmark series. You can read the complete series now on here »


Subscriber Offers – sparkling savings and family history:

The Champagne Guide 2012-2013 by Tyson Stelzer: has over 400 wines reviewed and rated, including the freshest and most recent releases, plus a wealth of product and industry information. A must for lovers of Champagne, and includes 40 Australian sparkling wines. subscribers who buy the stylish hardcover will receive the handy e-book, valued at $34.95, free. Click here for order code »

Heart & Soul by Graeme Lofts: a wonderful gathering of stories about the people that make up the twelve Australian First Families of Wine. Collectively they represent over 1200 years of winemaking experience and are a representative and diverse range of the best of Australian wine. This book has just been awarded second prize at the Gourmand International Paris cookbook fair, in the New World Wines category.  (The overall winner was Dr John Gladstone's Wine, Terroir and Climate Change.)

Save 20% when you buy Heart & Soul direct from the publisher »


Congratulations to Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, who last week was awarded the Institute of Masters of Wine/the drinks  business (Europe's leading drinks trade publication) Winemaker of the Year award. Not only is this award great recognition for Peter and his team at Penfolds, but for the Australian wine industry as a whole. Well done!

FOOD and the art of living


Food, life and love at Heide

This delightful book describes the life of Sunday Reed, a passionate cook and gardener, believer in home-grown produce, seasonal cooking and a communal table. Sunday’s Kitchen tells the story of food and living at Heide – now the Heide Museum of Modern Art – then her home and that of her husband John, two of Australia’s most significant art benefactors »

Book Reviews:

We'll be bringing you lots more reviews in early May in time for Mother's Day, but if you're already thinking ahead or ordering online, take a look through our Top 12 Cookbooks for 2011; any titles there would be sure to please a food-loving mum, whether she's into tapas, Asian, home-made, healthy, vegetarian or other culinary styles. (Mums, buy one in advance for your little treasures to give to you!)

We were pleased to learn recently that our Number 1 selection, Indochine by Luke Nguyen, was also the Australian winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Awards.

EVENTS: Food and wine events around Australia


Haven't decided what to do for Easter? Check out our events below for ideas and things to do as Easter is fast approaching. There's plenty on so start planning and enjoy autumn wine, food and fun!

Some Easter ideas:

ACT: Join in the non-stop entertainment including market stalls and a special program for the kids at the 46th National Folk Festival over Easter – Canberra 5-9 Apr »

NSW: Bluesfest Byron Bay is on again with six stages and more than 200 performances of the best blues, roots, folk, soul and world artists – Byron Bay 5-9 Apr »

Qld: Sample award-winning gourmet cheeses, yogurts and ice creams at the Kenilworth Cheese, Wine and Food FestivalKenilworth 7 Apr »


Other events around the country:

Tas: The Devonport Food and Wine Festival is a month-long celebration of the region's glorious local cuisine and produce – Devonport 1-31 Mar »

WA: Tempt your tastebuds and indulge in the many flavours, sights and smells on offer at Eat Drink PerthPerth 1-31 Mar »

Coming up in April is the fabulous Margaret River Wine Festival from 13-16 April »

Vic: Showcasing the Yarra Valley’s top wineries and restaurants as well as the culinary delights of the region is the Yarra Valley Food and Wine FestivalYarra Valley 26-29 Apr »

And right now we're in the midst of the ultimate gourmand's party: Tastes of Rutherglen 10-18 March. If you missed the start last weekend, another fabulous few days lie ahead. Be there!

SA: Tasting Australia celebrates quality food, wine and beer and gives you the chance to discover Adelaide and South Australia's many gourmet experiences on offer – Adelaide and SA regions 26 Apr-3 May »


Join Australia's 'greatest ever wine celebration'

The inaugural A+ Australian Wine Celebration is a unique occasion for Australians (and visitors, of course) to celebrate the great wine created in our own backyard, with close to 100 events taking place across the country during April 2012 – Check out the locations and events around Australia from 12-29 Apr »

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. If you are listing an event, try to do it as far in advance as possible, so we can consider inclusion in our newsletter. The day before is too late! )

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS: Fine wines, expert guides, DVDs and fun food books


Classic Eden Valley Riesling and an esoteric wine from McLaren Vale head the prize list. There are also excellent wine guides from experienced wine-writers and some fun food books lined up for you in March:

Karra Yerta: produces riesling from 80 year old vines that obviously love their location and consistently produce wines with the classic Eden Valley mineral and citrus flavours, so unique to the region. Win one of two half cases of the 2007 Riesling »

Brash Higgins: taste the wine Brad Hickey describes as ‘more of a ballerina than a boxer’, his clay amphora fermented Nero d’Avola, in amongst his single vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Win one of two mixed half cases »

The WA Wine Guide 2012: quite simply the definitive guide with over 800 wine reviews and all the background information you could need from leading wine critic Ray Jordan. Win one of five copies »

The Champagne Guide 2012-2013: with double the reviews of the previous edition (now over 400), profiles on producers, background information and much more, this is the must-have book for those who love all that sparkles in Champagne. Win one of two copies »

Celebrate! wine and food: Victoria Heywood’s book is full of recipes for all occasions and all specially designed to make your culinary and hosting skills shine whilst you raise a toast for the feast at the same time! Win one of four copies

Housewife Superstar Marjorie Bligh:  Long before Nigella donned the mantle of Domestic Goddess, across the world tucked away in Tasmania there was Marjorie. With a long career as cooking superstar, newspaper correspondent and expert household advisor, she was also an amazing recycling pioneer – a great read. Win one of four copies »

Tetsuta Wakuda’s DVD and Tasmania 40 South: flavours of the island state abound. Follow Tetsuya’s Pursuit of Excellence and his close affinity with Tasmania or get your Tassie fix every quarter with the flagship magazine Tasmanian 40 South. Win one of five DVDs or two annual subscriptions »

Facebook and Twitter fans: we gave away some of our favourite holiday, wine and travel books during February – congratulations to all our winners! Stay connected as we have some more wonderful books to share with you through March »

Did you miss out on a prize last month? We had to re-draw two prizes including one of the cases of King Valley wines and chocolates (!!!), simply because we didn’t hear back from the original winners after many attempts.

Please, make sure is added to your safe-senders list, and remember to check your emails and the winners' page. Wouldn't you hate missing out on a wonderful prize like that? Members – some offers exclusively for you


Do you carry a lovely lime green Membership card? Then make the most of your autumn travels into wine regions with these special offers:

Boroka Downs, Halls Gap (Vic): thinking about a romantic escape? With five stars, private boutique residences and bordering on the Grampians National Park, think no longer! Book an Indulgence package and receive an automatic upgrade »

Balmoral Beach Apartment, Sydney (NSW): a luxury beachfront apartment with Harbour views – sound enticing? Mention your Membership and you’ll be greeted with a bottle of Billecart Salmon French Champagne to start your Sydney stay »

Endota Spa, Mornington (Vic): offers an exclusive weekday spa and lunch package. Indulge in a one hour spa, followed by lunch at The Boyz and a complimentary bottle of Mornington Peninsula pinot noir or sauvignon blanc to take home »

Grandvewe Cheese, Birchs Bay (Tas): delight in a tailor-made, behind-the-scenes tour at the state’s only sheep’s cheesery. Meet the makers, meet 'The Girls' and learn about this fascinating industry »
You'll also receive a 20% discount on your cheesy purchases »

Not a Member? Join us today and start getting more from your wine and food travels.

Enticing Autumn offers for RACV, RACQ and RACV members


Autumn is a lovely time to travel around our wonderful wine regions – harvest is in the air which is itself feeling crisper and clearer. If you're a member of RACV, RACQ, RACT or any other affiliated motoring organisation*, here's some extra special reasons to pack your membership card and hit the road.



Barringwood Park Vineyard: set amongst the lush rolling hills of the north west, savour award-winning wines, drink in the spectacular views and save 15% on cellar door buys »

Bed in the Treetops: an idyllic bush setting at the beautiful Bay of Fires with warm and friendly hospitality. Escape to a romantic spa suite and save 15% when you book direct »

Frogmore Creek & Meadowbank: taste the stunning wines from both well-established wineries in the one cellar door at Meadowbank Estate and save 10-15% on your purchases »

Plus, you will also save 10% on events hosted by Frogmore or Meadowbank »

White Sands Estate: marvellous beachside location for a break away. Save 10% on your accommodation and your purchases at the Providore, including the tasty IronHouse beers »

Find the full range of discount offers at »



Dinny Goonan Wines: for an authentic winery experience and to meet the man behind the distinctive name, head down the Great Ocean Road. Plus you’ll save 15% on your wine buys »

Punt Road Wines: in the heart of the Yarra Valley, these wines are made from estate grown vines, generally the oldest and show regional elegance.  Try them and save 15% at the cellar door »

Napeoleone & Co Cider: from the winemakers at Punt Road come these delicious apple and pear ciders, fermented just like wine, not brewed like beer. Taste the difference and save 15% »

Silent Range Estate: just minutes from Glenrowan you can walk through the vines, winery and even the barrel room for an intimate tour with the winemaker. Sip on their full bodied wines then save 15% »

Shadowfax Winery: one of Victoria’s leading boutique wineries, just 30 minutes from Melbourne, admire the architecture, taste their wines and then save 15% at the cellar door »

There are many more discount offers just for you at »



Banca Ridge Bistro and Wines: visit for lunch and enjoy delicious ‘Medley of Mains’ or try the some of the wines at the cellar door. You’ll be supporting students at the Qld College of Wine Tourism and saving 15% on both »

Preston Peak: a broad range of award-winning wines and spectacular vineyards views await you at the cellar door in Toowoomba. You’re sure to find a favourite wine(s) and you’ll save 15% on your buys »

Riversands: the doors have been thrown open and the welcome mat is out after the floods. Look forward to a wonderfully warm welcome, some great flood stories and of course, great wine. Plus you’ll save 15% on purchases »

Sirromet: just a short drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, you can enjoy the ultimate winery experience. Find out why James Halliday awarded Sirromet with 4.5 stars with a tour and tasting – RACQ members save 50% »

The Vineyard Café: a lovely location for a relaxing meal, set in an old country church and exuding a special country charm. Expect generous hospitality and a saving of 15% »

Discover the full range of wine and food discounts 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, Google+ and now on Pinterest (yes, we love social media!)


Aah, we love autumn.... and hearing from you

It's our favourite time of year – the garden is still growing, the threat of bushfires and plant-sizzling heat has waned, late season fruit is ripening, and the grapes are finessing their flavours ready for vintage. It's calm, sunny (mostly) and just divine; a great time for parties, weddings, or just lounging about in the warmth with a glass of wine and friends.

If you're heading to wine country, don't forget to download the Visit Vineyards iPhone app from iTunes before you go, so you can find the hidden gems, the must sees, makers of your favourite variety or find accommodation or book a restaurant nearby. It covers the whole of Australia; you can easily search by state or region. Make the most of your travels, or enjoy browsing it at home to learn more about your fave wines or regions.

RACV in Victoria have also just launched their Show Your Card and Save app, so if you're a member, or a visiting AAA member from interstate (eg NRMA, RAA, etc), you can find all the RACV Regional Wine and Food Program participants in that, too. Save up to 20% on purchases when you visit these operators around Victoria »

Just a heads up for April – it's our annual survey time, when we invite you to send us your feedback on what you like (or don't like) about our service, and to tell us what you'd like more or less of in the year ahead. As in the past, one lucky survey respondent will enjoy a bottle of Grange, and three others some half-cases of wines. So look out for our survey invitation which we'll be sending out in early April, before the Easter break.

Last but not least, we'd like to wish Kelly of Windy Ridge vineyard in Gippsland, Victoria, a very happy 100th (dog) birthday. Kelly is our first featured vineyard/restaurant/microbrewery/whatever pet of the week. (If you have one you'd like to tell the world about, please let us know here.)

And don't forget, for those into social media, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and a bit on Google+ and Pinterest as well (we're still testing the water with those two a bit). Drop by and have a chat!

We look forward to hearing from you! Happy Easter and until next time,

Cheers from Robyn, Kerry, Trish, Andrew and the team


PS Don't forget to check out the huge range of wine events across the country from 12th to 29th of April, in the Australian Wine Celebration brought to you by A+ Wines. See you there!

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