Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard

Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard
Great Eastern Wine Week, 9-18 September 2022

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Meet Italy’s own Little Venice

Treviso is often known as “Little Venice” for its many canals. 

And it just 30 minutes away from the real Venice - and a whole lot less frenetic. 

One of the key centres of the Prosecco region, Treviso is a city comfortable in its skin - chilled and clearly affluent. 

For those not familiar with the name, Treviso is known for Prosecco and is Italy’s radicchio capital. It is also the city where tiramisu was invented. 

The city is home to the headquarters of clothing retailer Benetton, Sisley, Stefanel, Geox, Diadora and Lotto Sport, as well as appliance maker De’Longhi , and bicycle maker Pinarello.

I have one night in the Palazzina300 - a delightful B&B overlooking the Piazza dei Signori. 

A few images abovevto whet your appetite. 

And here’s the B&B room - delightfully quiet and well equipped. 

Mixed news for flyers from Qantas

Qantas has good news for international flyers and bad news for domestic travellers. 

Post-Covid, the Australian national airline is resuming flights to Johannesburg and Jakarta from Perth, but is cutting back on some domestic routes as it struggles to cope with demand. 

"After a faster-than-expected Covid-19 recovery for the travel industry, we have had to adapt to meet increasing demand and rapidly changing circumstances," Qantas said in a statement. 

"We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding while we work through what has been a challenging restart for our industry globally."

Qantas says it has deployed extra staff to assist at check-in and manage queues, and made operational changes to improve on time performance. 

All much needed as Qantas has not been delivering over recent months. 

"In the current environment, we know it will take some time for our operations to normalise, but we're working every day to ensure we deliver the level of service you have come to expect from Qantas." the airline said.

The had news is that "the Qantas Group is adjusting its domestic capacity levels to assist with the recovery of sustained high fuel prices". 

That means fewer flights on some routes due to rising fuel costs. 

"Capacity is being reduced from high frequency routes, so the impact to customers is expected to be minimal," Qantas says. 

The good news: Qantas will significantly boost its international network from Perth with flights to Johannesburg and Jakarta set to take off later this year. 

The routes are the latest of eight new international services the national carrier has announced since Australia's international borders re-opened in November 2021.

Qantas will operate the only direct service from Perth to South Africa - taking over from struggling South African Airways - operating three return flights per week on its Airbus A330 aircraft starting from November 1. 

Qantas flights will reconnect Perth with Jakarta for the first time since borders closed in March 2020, beginning with three flights per week on its Boeing 737 aircraft from November 30. 

The Hunter Valley says hello to an old friend

The Hunter Valley will welcome back an old friend when Tower Lodge in Pokolbin re-opens as Spicers Tower Lodge from July 1. 

After a $6 million renovation, the new-look lodge is ready to open up to visitors again.

Tower Estate was first launched in 1999 by Australian wine legend Len Evans AO OBE and some business partners. 

The exclusive retreat is built in a modern Spanish mission style and will now be home to Sebastian - a Basque-style restaurant. 

David Assef, Spicers Retreats managing director, says: “We are honoured to be the new custodians of this iconic property. Tower Lodge has a wonderfully earthy and natural design, it’s in harmony with the changing seasons around it, as the vines bud, flower and eventually drop their leaves for a winter display.”

Spicers Tower Lodge will be the third Spicers Retreat in the Pokolbin area, joining Spicers Vineyards Estate and Spicers Guesthouse. 

The 14 rooms at Spicers Tower Lodge all feature a large bedroom, lounge, dressing room and new bathtubs, while some have a private courtyard, open fireplace, or outdoor hot tub, from which to view the vineyards. 

Sebastian Restaurant is inspired by San Sebastian in Spain, famous for its many pintxos bars and starred restaurants. 

Sebastian offers a five-course set menu, which will change daily on a four-day cycle, with a different premium meat presented three ways as the main course each night. 

The winter ‘game and forest’ menu features trout, squab, roe deer and wild boar - certainly something different for the Hunter but likely to be polarising. 

The Hunter region’s 200-year wine heritage is on full display at Tower Lodge, supported by iconic Spanish varietals, including albariƱo, tempranillo, Grenache and gently sparkling Txakoli with notes of apple and citrus, which dances on your palette as Sebastian’s flavours of Basque country fill your senses.

A vision for perfection

Spicers have secured Patrick Barrie as Spicers Tower Lodge’s General Manger, who joins them from the highly awarded Saffire Lodge in Tasmania’s spectacular Freycinet Peninsular.

Patrick well understands the needs of a regional luxury retreat, having been a manager at Hakuba Springs Hotel in a village in the Japanese Alps; the luxury Longitude 131° resort located adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park; and the Oatley family’s Qualia on Hamilton Island.

He also completed the Camino de Santiago trail in north east Spain, taking him more than a month and over 1,000kms, exploring the local Basque towns and food culture on foot, giving him an affinity for Sebastian Restaurant.

Fulfilling an inheritance
Tower Estate was Len Evan’s last business venture before he passed away in 2006, and a testament to his life as a pioneering, inspiring wine judge, ambassador, restaurateur and passionate entrepreneur.

“It’s essential we retain Evans’ vision for the estate, with an ambience and design that reflects the unique country style and a search for quality above all else,” explained Barrie.

“We have so much to thank Len Evans for,” Patrick says. “He arguably did more than any other one person to create our culture of wine appreciation in Australia.”

Evans was a playful, loud, and extravagant bon vivant, who wasn’t embarrassed to pursue and praise the world’s top wines, especially those from France, and in particular those from Burgundy and the prized wines of Domain Romani Conti.

It helped Tower Estate’s fortunes that investors over the years include British TV chef Rick Stein; previous co-owner of Rockpool Bar and Grill David Doyle; renowned Hunter winemaker Brian McGuigan; businessmen Andrew Banks; businessman and art collector Basil Sellers; and former News Limited boss Ken Cowley.

Alongside contemporary wine luminaries Brian Croser and James Halliday, Evans was a great educator who turned Australians into wine consumers by demystifying wine and encouraging higher standards in the domestic industry. He even had an entertaining, jargon-free wine column in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Room to be free

Spicers Tower Lodge is a place where you can celebrate and share the wonders of life. It’s ideal for intimate events and long, convivial days and nights enjoying some of the region’s finest cuisine and wine with friends, family and colleagues.

Every evening, the team at Tower Lodge hosts a food and beverage masterclass on a topic drawn from the things loved by Sebastian Restaurant: jamon, olives, cheese, sherry, vermouth, gin, and of course wine, and you can reserve a range of unique regional wine experiences in advance.

Enjoy the spacious lounge, bar, library, conference facilities and sauna and take full advantage of the carefully tended grounds that surround Tower Lodge, with games on the lawn like frisbee golf, croquet and kite flying, there’s even an archery range.

“There are so many outstanding spaces for our guests to enjoy, says Patrick. “There’s the underground cellar, gorgeous restaurant, a newly designed outdoor terrace with a fireplace, and a stunning pool area in an undercover courtyard, it’s a real treat on those warm Hunter Valley afternoons.”

“The Tower Suite with its roof top hot-tub looking over the vineyards is sure to be one of the most sort-after suites in Australia,” he says.

A style to savour

Located at the heart of Australia’s oldest wine region, Spicers Tower Lodge is lined on one side by vines and, on the other, a small creek among the gum trees. Nearby are some of the most iconic cellar doors the Hunter Valley has to offer.

Brokenwood’s new cellar door complex is the largest in the Hunter Valley and one of Australia’s First Families of Wine, Tyrrell’s, established in 1858, has a suite of tasting experiences that showcase their heritage vineyards and museum wines.

If you’d like some more vigorous activity, Tower Lodge has a short walk which starts and finishes at the property. Or you can grab a mountain bike and take a tour of beautiful Pokolbin, visit the Pokolbin Farm Shop for local produce or browse the delicious stalls at the Hunter Wine Country Markets.

The Hunter Valley offers a swag of options if you want to pursue adventures like hot air ballooning, a helicopter joy ride, or some rounds of golf at one of the three picturesque courses within half an hours’ drive from Tower Lodge. Spa Anise at nearby Spicers Vineyards Estate is an elegant day spa with two treatment rooms, each with private courtyards, and offers a mobile service to Tower Lodge.

Spicers Tower Lodge is your perfect romantic base to experience life and explore the delights of the Hunter Valley, tucked away along pretty country roads and enchanting scenery.

You will find Spicers Tower Lodge on the corner of Broke and Halls Roads; a two-hour drive from Sydney or one hour from Newcastle. Sydney Airport is 190km away, Newcastle Airport is 80km. Transfers are available upon request.

- END –

Founded by Jude Turner in 2002, Spicers Retreats has ten luxury retreats, hotels and lodges across Queensland and New South Wales. It also operates the Scenic Rim Trail, Queensland’s only Great Walks of Australia and more recently, launched Private Collection by Spicers. Spicers are proud to have ten restaurants inclusive of 2022 award-winning - The Peak in Maryvale, The Tamarind in Maleny, Homage in Grandchester, The Long Apron in Montville, and Restaurant Botanica in the Hunter Valley.


Spicers Tower Lodge

6 Halls Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320

The natural textures of heritage Hunter Valley luxury

For reservations HERE, EMAIL or CALL137742

For more information or enquires, visit the website

New Adelaide Hills cellar doors unveiled


Visitors to the Adelaide Hills have two new cellar doors to visit as of June.

At Wotton Family Wines, the Wottons have grown top quality cherries and wine grapes for 25 years and have just opened their Wotton Family Wines cellar door.

It is described as "an intimate modern space" (above) and offers wine tastings of four wines with local cheeses. It is open 11am-5pm Friday to Monday at 141 Greenhill Road, Uraidla.

The Wotton family has worked in the region for 150 years and in In 1994 the first wine grapes were planted. 

The established wines of Casa Freschi, meanwhile, have until now only been available in restaurants or independent stores.

Their new cellar door is on a former apple orchard, surrounded by 100-year old chestnut and walnut trees and housed in a vineyard shed converted using recycled materials.

Casa Freschi is a small, artisan, wine producer using organic principles and minimal intervention. 

The cellar door is located in the Casa Freschi Altezza vineyard at 159 Ridge Rd Ashton.

It is one of the closest vineyards to Adelaide being only 15km from the CBD.

A range of current and museum wines, dating back to the inaugural Casa Freschi vintage in 1999 will be available to taste and purchase from 11am-5pm Friday to Sunday.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Queensland mulls a tax on visitors

Queensland. Beautiful one day. Dumb the next.

The Australian state is considering whether to impose new taxes on tourists.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Reference Panel has proposed introducing visitor taxes for local attractions within the state.

“The idea of a visitor levy is not new. It has been modelled, canvassed and debated for the best part of a decade,” the panel’s report noted.

“While we appreciate that views are polarised as to whether it is an appropriate way to raise funding, everyone we spoke with saw a greater need than ever for increased funding.”

Money raised by the proposed new tax would be pumped back into the sector to maintain state-operated tourist attractions and national parks, as well as for marketing.

“We don’t just want to build back to where we were, we want to see the industry grow,” Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe said.

“We have very different destinations that have very different needs.”

A statewide levy ‘would not work’ the panel said, and it instead suggests local authorities should be able to set a visitor tax.

“Any mechanism needs to be flexible - able to be varied at the local council/destination level to suit local circumstances.”

Kevin Byrne of the Cairns Tourism Industry Association said: "I think an accommodation levy, a visitor levy of 5-8% in the first couple of years, would be appropriate.” 

Well Kevin, let me tell you that will the cost of living rising across Australia, there are lots of tourists who will opt for destinations where they are not being price gouged.

Why Oman Air will soon be on the radar of frequent flyers

Most frequent flyers know about Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways - three Middle Eastern Airlines with global reputations. 

Now Oman Air is to become the newest member of the Oneworld alliance, with Oneworld announcing that the airline has been elected as a new member at its Annual General Meeting this week. 

The process  is expected to be completed by 2024.

This means Qantas frequent flyers will have the chance to sample the offerings of the Muscat-based carrier  - who I will test drive next month. 

The announcement was made at IATA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in Doha. 

Oman Air CEO Eng Abdulaziz Al Raisi said: “Oman Air's admittance into Oneworld represents a defining moment in our journey to provide passengers with greater travel options through our developing partnerships and alliances. 

"We're delighted to be joining the world's foremost airline alliance at a time when demand for travel is on the rise. We look forward to welcoming Oneworld members onboard Oman Air to experience the height of Omani hospitality and all that the Sultanate of Oman has to offer in terms of history, culture and natural beauty.”

When Oman Air becomes a full oneworld member, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will be able to earn and redeem points, earn status credits and receive reciprocal status benefits with Oman Air. 

Oman Air operates to destinations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe using a fleet of Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s and Boeing 737s. 

Other recent additions to the Oneworld alliance include Royal Air Maric and Alaska Airlines.