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Wednesday 31 January 2018

Barossa treasure Seppeltsfield breaks with 167 years of tradition

Iconic Barossa Valley wine producer Seppeltsfield is poised to release its inaugural still wine range to Australian retail consumers, the first such release in the brand's 167-year history. 

Seppeltsfield will unveil its first nationally-available Barossa red and white wines - including an Eden Valley riesling, Barossa grenache and Barossa shiraz - to customers in its cellar door from Thursday, February 1

The range, with dramatic blue packaging, will follow into Australian restaurants, bars, hotels and retail outlets from March; distributed by Oatley Fine Wine Merchants.

The new wine releases for Seppeltsfield signal a completed metamorphosis of the estate as a proprietary brand and privately owned business under Warren Randall, following five generations under the B. Seppelt & Sons umbrella and 22 years of corporate ownership.

Seppeltsfield has been known internationally by wine lovers for its treasure trove of fortifieds and its dynamic tourism village in the Barossa. Until now, however, red and white wines have been limited to availability through its cellar door. 

The new releases are being celebrated as “the final brushstroke on a beautiful canvas” by proprietor Randall.
Seppeltsfield’s first tier of wines includes a delicate 2017 Eden Valley riesling from the estate’s coolest and highest elevation vineyard, an unoaked ‘joven’-style grenache from its bush-vine Great Terraced Vineyard and a fruit-driven Shiraz from the Barossa’s Western ridge. All will sell for $25.

Central to the new wine releases has been a multi-million dollar restoration of the estate’s 1888 Gravity Cellar – a winery designed to harness the natural course of gravity to assist with the vinification process. 
Conceived by Benno Seppelt, eldest son of the original estate founders, the Gravity Cellar is recognised as having played a pivotal role in the evolution of modern winemaking - and is now back in full working use.
“For more than a century, and particularly personified through Benno Seppelt, this business has been based on courage, ambition and ingenuity," says Randall.
“From the famous avenue of palms planted by the Seppeltsfield workers during the Great Depression, to the revolutionary design of the Gravity Cellar, to the inception of a 100-Year-Old Tawny, Seppeltsfield goes further than being just about grape growing and winemaking - it encapsulates so much of the Australian spirit.”
Additional wine tiers, highlighting Barossa regional-specific shiraz and icon releases, will be unveiled by Seppeltsfield later in the year.    

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Five years on, The Old Bank is back in business

After being closed for five years one of Tasmania's landmark bed and breakfasts has reopened under new ownership in the lovely heritage village of Cygnet.

The Old Bank is a National Trust-listed 1909 Victorian building on the main street of Cygnet. With its rooms completely refurbished, it is a delightful country town retreat with three, stylish, beautifully appointed rooms overlooking the town square.

Cygnet is a creative, bustling town with local food, wines, ciders, coffee, galleries and markets to entice visitors, as well as Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans' Fat Pig Farm.

The hamlet is surrounded by beautiful countryside but offers small town facilities including cafés and shops.

One of the luxurious bedrooms has an en suite bathroom and the other two private bathrooms across the corridor.

Separate reservations can be taken for each room or the property can be booked in its entirety. The Franc and Sterling rooms have luxury queen beds and the Sovereign room king-sized bed.

All rooms, beautifully furnished, light and airy, have TVs, DVD Player and DVDs on request, in-room heaters, free wifi and Netflix, luxury toiletries, premium linen,
warm bathrobes, slippers and hairdryer and are serviced daily.

There is complimentary tea and coffee and, from mid February, the lovely Conservatory Café will serve breakfasts and lunches Friday-Tuesdays.

The property has several private rooms in which guests can enjoy a read, a board game or a complimentary glass of port, and there are several outdoor areas, as well as on on-site orchard and a ritzy homewares store. 

One of the most stylish B&Bs on the island state. Highly recommended and kudos to owner Sharon Ireland.

Cygnet Old Bank is at 20 Mary Street, Cygnet, 7112. (03) 6295 1818.   

Do you have $50,000 to spare? Here's the perfect holiday for you.

If you have a casual $50,000 to spare on a much-needed vacation then Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a 77-night cruise holiday that ticks a whole lot of luxury boxes.

The all-inclusive cruise line has unveiled the itinerary for its Grand Arctic Quest voyage departing London on June 18, 2019, bound for New York City aboard the all-suite and refurbished Seven Seas Navigator.

Part of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Grand Voyages collection, this new itinerary visits breathtaking destinations throughout the British Isles, Iceland, Scandinavia, Greenland and the United States, taking in windswept coastal villages, remote islands, spectacular waterways and distinctive cities, including Reykjavik, Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital.

Grand Voyages allow extra time for leisurely exploration of one particular region and spend more time at each port with many overnight stays.

Bespoke offerings include exclusive shoreside experiences, phone time per suite, pre-cruise hotel stay and dinner and unlimited laundry and dry cleaning.

Guests will also enjoy the benefits of all-inclusive cruising, with unlimited shore excursions, meals in specialty restaurants, premium fine wines and beverages, in-suite mini bar replenished daily, open bars and lounges, unlimited wifi and pre-paid gratuities.

“This is a bucket-list journey that will see our guests enjoying the diversity of nature and some of the most unique scenery in the world, experiencing everything from Iceland’s hot springs to the sheer cliffs in Norway to the historic architectural delights of Denmark and Belgium," said managing director Asia Pacific.

"From the remote Russian Solovetsky Islands to the Atlantic seaboard, Boston before finally arriving into New York City, this is a must-experience itinerary for any cruise connoisseur.”

To book call 1300 455 200 or visit

Sunday 28 January 2018

Established Barossa business; first cellar door

Dean Hewitson's wine business was established in 1998 but he only recently launched its first cellar door.

Situated in the heart of the Barossa on the historic Seppeltsfield Road, the Hewitson vineyard boasts some of the oldest vines in the world, including some that are dry-grown and pre-Phylloxera.

What was formerly a smokehouse has been converted into a bright space offering a blend of historic charm and modern décor.

There are sweeping vineyard views from various decks and terraces, aimed to encourage visitors to take their time over a glass or two of wine, and there is an open fire during winter months.

There are several wines available at cellar door oor only and local, interstate and international shipping is one offer.

The entire facility is green-tinged with solar energy, water recycling and the encouragement of natural biodiversity – and tastings are complimentary.

Groups over eight guests require a booking and incur a $20 tasting fee, while cheese platters are available and wine can be purchased by the glass or bottle.

Hewitson Wines is open Monday–Saturday 11am-5pm and on Sundays noon-5pm at 66 Seppeltsfield Road, Lot 1, Nuriootpa. 08) 8212 6233.

Friday 26 January 2018

Australia Day honour for pioneer of Italian grape varieties

McLaren Vale winemaker Serafino (Steve) Maglieri has been inducted into the Order of Australia after being awarded the Member of the Order (AM) honour.

The appointment to the Order of Australia is the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service, with the Member of the Order of Australia being awarded for significant contribution to a particular locality or field of activity.

Maglieri, founder of Serafino Wines, said he was both "honoured but truly humbled" to be the recipient of such a prestigious award in Australia, his adopted home country.

“It is exceptionally humbling to be recognised for your contributions to your industry of choice and wider community," he said.

“While the years of hard work have seen our wines receive great rewards, it’s the fact that our wines can be enjoyed by many and have given me the opportunity to help others in the community, either in Australia or Italy that brings me the greatest joy. 

"This award is for my family and the extended Serafino Wines community."

Daughter Maria Maglieri said: "In the early years Dad worked tirelessly from dawn to dusk, seven days a week to support the family and produce wine that went on to be recognised with accolades for such outstanding quality. It goes without saying that we are all really proud of him."

Serafino Wines today crafts traditional McLaren Vale varieties shiraz and cabernet, as
well as exciting Italian-style wines such as fiano, lagrein, vermentino, sangiovese, pinot grigio, nebbiolo and primitivo, plus the Spanish variety tempranillo.

Maglieri arrived in Australia from Italy in 1964. Two years later, with his father Giovanni, he planted his first vines in McLaren Vale. 

Visit for more information. 

UPDATE: Fourth-generation winemaker Colin Campbell from Campbells of Rutherglen Campbell was also awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to the wine-making industry, which contributed to solidifying Rutherglen and Australia’s reputation for quality wine. 

Thursday 25 January 2018

Celebrate Australia Day by grabbing a cheap flight to the Philippines

To celebrate Australia Day, Cebu Pacific Airways is giving Aussies the chance to escape to four exotic islands, all located in the Philippines, for just $259 one way. 

From Australia Day until January 31, Australians can book flights from Sydney to Boracay, Palawan (below), Cebu (above) or Siargao, via Manila, for less than many people pay for a meal for two. 

The travel dates must fall from March 1 to May 31. 

Cebu Pacific, the Philippines’ largest air carrier, operates a daily Sydney to Manila service, is aiming to draw attention to making travel to the Philippines even more accessible. 

Visitors can get the chance to dive into crystal clear waters, relax on deserted beaches or explore the streets of some of the world’s top nightlife spots like Boracay, Cebu and Palawan. 

Those looking to catch some waves can head to the Philippines’ surf haven of Siargao, home to the surfers' paradise of Cloud 9.

To book a trip, visit: 

Australian wines shine on global stage

Close to 1,100 Australian wines from 41 different regions were showcased this week during the Australia Day Tasting (ADT) in London, Wine Australia’s largest trade tasting.
Over 1000 visitors attended from across the United Kingdom and European wine trade, including buyers from multiple retailers and independent specialists, sommeliers, journalists and educators. 

Thirty-eight winemakers and winery owners flew over to pour their wines and meet the trade including Andrew Hardy (Petaluma), Scott McWilliam (McWilliams), Jeremy Dineen (Josef Chromy, pictured below), Martin Spedding (Ten Minutes by Tractor), Robyn Pfeiffer (Pfeiffer Wines), Toby Porter (d'Arenberg) and Christian Dal Zotto (Dal Zotto). 
Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark reported that in the 12 months ending December 2017, Australian wine exports globally increased by 15% to $2.56 billion, the highest growth rate since 2004.

Guests tried the latest vintages of wines from iconic brands such as Penfolds, Torbreck and Yalumba and made new discoveries like Dickinson Estate, Eccentric Wines and Mérite that are seeking distribution. Of the 243 wineries featured, 18 producers are not yet in the market in the UK.
Visitors also participated in master classes – Margaret River presented by Sarah Ahmed and McLaren Vale presented by Richard Hemming MW.
‘This year's Australia Day Tasting in London was a great success," Clark said. "There was a fantastic atmosphere, full of people discovering wines they hadn’t tasted before and renewed old acquaintances, while exhibitor tables had a constant flurry of visitors, and master classes were well-attended. 
"The annual ADT is a very important event to showcase our wines on an international stage and I was delighted to see the enthusiasm for Australian wine."
Tastings follow in Edinburgh today and Dublin next week. 

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Vintage looms as a disaster for South African wine industry

South Africa, where the wine industry has been booming, is facing a disastrous 2018 vintage due to a persistent drought that has been ravaging the Western Cape area for months.

The Independent Online reports that yields for 2018 are expected to plunge by as much as 50% and the grape crop could be the smallest in over a decade. 

“The 2018 wine grape crop is expected to be the smallest since 2005, due to a decline in vineyard area, an ongoing drought and crop losses due to frost and hail,” Francois Viljoen, manager of wine organisation Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service, told The Drinks Business.

Local dams in and around Stellenbosch (above), Paarl, Franschhoek and other wine regions are at around 25% capacity with drought conditions prevailing in the Western Cape for the third consecutive season. 

Many producers depend on irrigation water from the various irrigation schemes that have been rationed since early in the 2017 growing season. Water quotas have been cut between 50-80%. 

“Virtually no rain fell during this period and many hot days (above 35°C) were recorded," Viljoen said. "Together with a persistent south-easterly wind, this increased the water consumption of vineyards.” 

Roland Peens, a director at local wine merchant, Wine Cellar, believes that the bulk wine industry would be affected the most, as it made up 90% of the industry in terms of volume produced.

The bulk wine sector could see yields go down 25% to 50%. 

The South African wine industry is the ninth largest producer of wine in the world and contributes 4% of global production. The country exports 440 million litres of wine annually and sells 400 million litres locally.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Super-fit Kiwis prove good sports

Whether on the water or in the wilderness, New Zealanders love their leisure time. Six major sporting events in the first half of 2018 showcase some of New Zealand's most beautiful regions and offer something for everyone, whether participants or spectators.

Tarawera 100-Miler, Rotorua, February 10-11

The annual Tarawera 100-Mile Endurance Run is for hard-core athletes only.

The event is restricted to 1250 entrants and comes with demanding fitness requirements.

Runners from over 50 countries will flock to compete in one of the most prestigious ultra-running races in the world - starting at 4am in downtown Rotorua.

The course winds through redwood forests, past geothermal features and pristine lakes and along rugged hill tracks and forestry roads. Podium winners usually finish in 14-15 hours; stragglers, who run continuously from day into night and into the next day again can take up to 36 hours.

For those wanting less punishment, there are 102km, 87km and 62km races.

Volvo Ocean Race, Auckland, February 24-March 18

Auckland, with more sailing craft per capita than any city on earth, is known as the "City of Sails". The current and former America's Cup capital, New Zealand's waterside metropolis is also a stopover for the world’s toughest round-the-world ocean race.

For three and a half weeks in February and March, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will be in Auckland where the sailing-mad city is establishing a race village with a busy programme of celebrations, practice races, seminars and other events.

Among the many free attractions will be dockside displays of Volvo Ocean 65 monohulls, close-up peeks at the preparations for the next gruelling leg of the race around Cape Horn to Itajai in Brazil, and ”The Grinding Challenge”, which lets visitors experience how much muscle is needed to raise a sail.

ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, March 1-4, Queenstown

New Zealand's top pro-am golf event lures competitors from around the world - 140 amateurs and 140 professionals, chasing NZ$1.1 million in prize money.

The two venues for the event underscore Queenstown’s status as a world-class golfing destination. The Hills course is laid out across a glacial valley with dramatic elevation changes, while Millbrook Resort offers 27 testing holes.

With snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the tournament will be played over four days.

Crankworx, Rotorua, March 17-25
New Zealand is a global mecca for mountain biking enthusiast, over 1,000 of whom will compete on the gnarly downhill trails at Gravity Park in Rotorua.

The first annual stop on the Crankworx World Tour mountain biking circuit, Rotorua brings the world's best downhill, slopestyle and enduro riders together.

Now a major fixture on the New Zealand sporting calendar, Crankworx is a family-friendly affair with Kidsworx competitions and concerts and exhibitions that spill out across the city.

Golden Oldies Festival, Christchurch, April 1-29

"Fun, Friendship and Fraternity" is the motto of the Golden Oldies festivals for sportspeople aged 35-plus that are held every two years at different venues around the globe.

For the first time in the history of the Golden Oldies movement, all 10 of its sports - basketball, cricket, football, golf, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby, softball and squash - will be held in the same city and in the same month. 

New Zealand's second-largest city, the Commonwealth Games host in 1974, is expected to welcome 9,000 participants and about 4,000 supporters and officials.

Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay Marathon, May 12
Starting on the oceanside promenade of the city of Napier on the sunny east coast of the North Island, the flat, easy-running 42km marathon course winds through the vineyards, olives groves and quiet country roads of Hawke's Bay's famed wine and food country to the finishing line in the vineyards of Sileni Estates winery.

The serious event also has a fun side with a half-marathon, 10km run (and walk) and a 3km kids’ run following parts of the course.

Afterwards, thousands of local and international visitors stay on to enjoy the world-class food and wine, Art Deco architecture, beaches and wildlife of one of New Zealand's must-see regions.

For details see

Monday 22 January 2018

Please improve the weather forecast: tourism operators

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council has called on weather forecasters to be more upbeat in their predictions. 

Hospitality operators in the "Sunshine State" say meteorologists are too downcast and have called for a more positive spin on daily weather forecasts.

The Council wants the Bureau of Meteorology to be more positive and replace forecasts like 'partly cloudy' with 'mostly sunny' or 'chance of rain' with 'likely sunny.'

"Weather messaging has a significant impact on weekend, spontaneous and day-trip travel plans," said QTIC chief executive Daniel Gschwind.

"We prefer the 'glass half full' option when it comes to weather reporting - for example, 'mainly sunny' is more encouraging to domestic travellers than 'chance of rain'."

Due to high temperatures and long dry spells, Gschwind said rain showers are a good thing and should be portrayed as such.

"Rain in Queensland doesn't have the same implications as the northern hemisphere. I don't think it should be framed in a bad way. It could even be described as a 'cooling down shower' or something."

Sorry, but I can't stop laughing. I wonder what the Queenslanders would make of the forecast at the top. 

Sunday 21 January 2018

Yalumba marks Signature launch with a special dinner

If you are a serious wine lover, have some cash to splash and own a dinner jacket and bow-tie then Yalumba has announced a special dinner to entice you to the Barossa Valley. 

Australia's oldest family-owned winery will celebrate the release of the 2014 vintage of The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz in partnership with renowned chef Jock Zonfrillo of Restaurant Orana and Bistro Blackwood. 

The diary date is Saturday, May 5, 2018, at the historic Hill-Smith family winery in the spiritual home of Yalumba’s landmark wine, The Signature Cellar, and enjoy a four-course degustation paired with Yalumba’s finest wines.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend is a uniquely Australian wine and one to which Yalumba has remained true since the 1880s.
The Signature is Yalumba’s landmark style, using the best fruit of the vintage and acknowledges the people who have enhanced the culture and embodied the values of Yalumba since 1962. 

The food will be curated by Zonfrillo, one of the South Australian food scene’s brightest lights. 

For those who would like to experience more of Yalumba's history, a limited number of tickets are available for an exclusive masterclass and museum tasting with Kevin Glastonbury, current custodian and winemaker of The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & 
Shiraz.  A bus transfer is also available from Adelaide CBD for an extra cost.

Museum Tasting: Saturday, May 5, 2-3.30pm. Gala Dinner: Saturday May 5, from 6:30pm
Yalumba Winery, 40 Eden Valley Road,  Angaston, South Australia 5353.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Father and son combine for Clare Valley flagship

Family-owned Clare Valley winery Paulett is to launch a new vintage of its flagship red - a collaboration between father Neil Paulett and son Matthew. 

Labelled 47/74 Hand Crafted, the wine is a blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon from the 2013 vintage and will retail for $110. It hits the market next month. 
Neil Paulett, who has headed the family business with wife Alison for close to 35 years, was born in 1947 and his son in 1974, hence the name of the wine. Matthew is the vineyard manager as well as playing an increased role in the winery.

"We have tasted and blended this wine to reflect the power, unity and complexity of like wines merged into one," says Neil Paulett. "The name 47/74 reflects the mirror image of our births and symbolises the transition of the old into the new."

The wine, as you'd expect is an intense and complex beast, dark and brooding now with ripe plum and spice notes and a surprising softness on the palate. A definite cellar prospect. 

For details see


Friday 19 January 2018

Historic Hunter Valley wine landmark reopens with new branding

One of Australia’s oldest wineries is to reopen its doors for the first time in more than three years after a rigorous revival project.
Dalwood Estate, the historic winery, formerly known as Wyndham Estate, will welcome guests this weekend 190 years after it was established at Branxton in the Hunter Valley.

The French Pernod Ricard group acquired the estate in 1990 in its $73 million takeover of Brian McGuigan’s Wyndham Estate company.
The estate sat untouched after its closure in 2014 until last year when Iris Capital bought the property, adding a third winery to its Hunter portfolio alongside Hungerford Hill Wines and Sweetwater Wines.
After a major 12-month renewal program, the 260-acre property has been restored to its former glory, The Maitland Mercury reports. 
With a return to its original 1828 establishment name, Dalwood Estate boasts a heritage winery building, manicured lawns and gardens, a function centre, cellar door, restaurant, walking trails and public barbecue areas on the banks of the Hunter River.
Iris Capital general manager Craig Hibbard said the reopening was about celebrating the revival of an Australian icon. 
“It’s been a busy 12 months – imagine a 260-acre estate that hasn’t been maintained for three years – but we’re really proud of Dalwood’s transformation and we can’t wait to share it with the wider community,” Hibbard told the Mercury. “Our aim is to revive the property’s heritage and restore it to a fully operational vineyard again. 
“Dalwood Estate shares historical significance with the winemaking industry and not just in the Hunter Valley.”
Bryan Currie is the senior winemaker and general manager of Hungerford Hill, Sweetwater and Dalwood wine operations.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Family-owned Coonawarra vineyard marks organic milestone

For over 100 years the Reschke family have been living on their Koonara property in the heart of Coonawarra. 

The current family residents are Dru and Nicole Reschke with their two daughters Lucy and Alice.

After 10 years of conversion, Koonara Wines are the first vineyards in Coonawarra to be certified to Australian Organic Standards.

Coonawarra is renowned as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and is particularly known for producing world-class red wines, especially cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. 

The region's secret lies in a marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long, cool ripening season for the grapes. 

The Koonara wines are made by industry veteran Peter Douglas (formerly of Wynn's Coonawarra Estate). Both Koonara’s Coonawarra and Mount Gambier vineyards practice organic viticulture, and Coonawarra is certified organic.

All of Koonara’s red wines are aged in 100% fine-grain French oak hogshead barrels and the premium wines all contain no residual sugar, below organic levels of sulphur and a vegan friendly. 

Reschke said even though they have been practising organic viticulture for over 10 years, it was great to finally receive official certification earlier this month.

“We have not used any pesticides or herbicides in our Coonawarra vineyards for over a decade, as it can rob the soil of nearly all the good micro-fungi,” he said. “The vineyard is like our bodies; get the nutrition right and it stays healthy and disease pressure drops, and so the number of sprays needed drop as well. 

“Our aim was to increase organic material into our soil. Only 1% extra organic matter in the soil will hold an extra 177,000 litres of water per hectare, which is why we find weeds actually help, not hinder the vines.

“The root systems of weeds are usually no more than 30cm deep, when they die off at the start of summer their roots provide organic straws for oxygen and water to get deeper into the soil, which aids the vines.” 

Insects also play an important role in Koonara’s biodiversity plan. 

“We have identified five wasp and three spider varieties, and even a scorpion fly, which are all completely harmless. These insects larvae feed on our vineyard pests such as vine moth – and many of those so-called weeds are also a food source for them.” 

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Two tribes go to war. Australian winemakers take on Canadians.

It's on. 

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) has welcomed Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo’s announcement that Australia has launched a dispute settlement action against Canada at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

And 24 hours later New Zealand confirmed it will join Australia's complaint against Canada over allegedly “arbitrary and disadvantageous” treatment of wine imports.

WFA chief executive Tony Battaglene said the action was the first formal step in seeking to resolve long-standing Canadian measures that allegedly "discriminate" against Australian wine imports.

“Canada is Australia's fourth-most-valuable export market at around $190 million and remains a very important destination for Australian wine,” Battaglene said.

“Australia is the fifth-ranked country of origin, with a 10% total volume share of the Canadian market behind wines from the United States, Canada, Italy, and France.

“Wine sales in Canada are controlled by provincial liquor boards. In recent years, the liquor boards have introduced a number of measures that discriminate in favour of locally produced wine. We respect the Canadian wine industry, but we are seeking a level playing field to ensure we can maximise our opportunities in this key market.

“The WTO provides a rules-based system that is vital to ensure countries around the world ensure their regulations are fair and non-discriminatory. We are delighted the Australian Government has decided to take action over these issues and the winners will be Australian producers and Canadian consumers.”

On January 18, 2017, the United States launched its own WTO trade dispute settlement action against Canada regarding ‘Measures Governing the Sale of Wine in Grocery Stores’ which Australia joined as a third-party observer. 

The new Australian-led WTO action addresses these same concerns as well as others across the Canadian provinces.