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Sunday 30 June 2019

A French hotel for all lovers of fine wine

La Maison d’Estournel, a boutique hotel located in the home of Cos d’Estournel’s original founder, is set to open this northern summer in the Bordeaux vineyards.

The home of Louis Gaspard d’Estournel in the 19th century, Château Pomys is located next to the St Estèphe property and was already a hotel - Chateau Hotel Pomys - when acquired by Cos d’Estournel’s current owner, Michel Reybier, in 2017.

Due to reopen this summer, the refurbished hotel, surrounded by vines and the estate’s parkland, boasts 14 rooms, a restaurant, library and tasting room, Drinks Business reports.

Reybier owns a number of other hotels and spas and the acquisition of Château Pomys was hinted at at the time and more explicitly stated now as a “complement” to the Cos d’Estournel brand.

The wine produced at Cos d'Estournel was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855. 

Several Bordeaux estates now own and operate boutique hotels and restaurants on or near their main properties as wine tourism gains popularity in what was previously a very conservative region.

Discover the many craft breweries of Margaret River

While Margaret River is best known for icon wineries like Vasse Felix, Leeuwin Estate, Cullen and Voyager Estate, it is also home to a wide range of craft breweries.

A handy trail guide mapping 10 local breweries has just been released.

The Margaret River Region Craft Beer Trail includes a detailed map showing breweries from Busselton to Eagle Bay, and south to Margaret River. The guide contains information on opening days and hours, dining, contact information and more.

Included in the Trail are Bootleg Brewery, Caves Road Collective (home of Black Brewing Co), Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co, Colonial Brewing Co, Cowaramup Brewing Co, Eagle Bay Brewing Co, Margaret River Brewhouse, Rocky Ridge Brewing, The Beerfarm, and Wild Hop Brewing Co.

Guide coordinator Emma Locke from Black Brewing Co said the trail included established favourites, as well as two exciting new breweries opened in the last six months.

“We've proved ourselves to be a crafty lot down south!” she said.

“There are a number of award-winning craft beers produced in the Margaret River Region and we have the highest concentration of microbreweries in Western Australia.

“Just 20 years ago there was one lone brewery in the region. They're still going strong but are now in great company,” she said.

“Each Margaret River Region brewery has its own distinct style but all share a love for hospitality and brewing some great beers in a number of styles.”

Pick up a copy of the Margaret River Region Craft Beer Trail at any of the participating breweries, or from a Visitor Centre in Busselton, Dunsborough or Margaret River.

You can also download a copy from the Trails WA website ( – search for Food & Wine experiences) and app.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Melbourne's new urban gin distillery and bar

Patient Wolf Distilling Co., an independent boutique gin producer currently based in Brunswick, will soon open the doors to a new distillery and bar located in Melbourne’s busy Southbank precinct.

Bucking the trend in Australia for regional-based distilleries, Patient Wolf are moving their hand-crafted gin production close to the heart of the city.

Patient Wolf co-founders and distillers Matt Argus and Dave Irwin are currently renovating of a red brick industrial warehouse at 34-36 Market Street, an inner-city side street which straddles the Southbank and South Melbourne border. 

The working distillery and bar will become the largest independent distillery in Victoria.

Slated to open in early September, Patient Wolf’s new venue will offer guests the opportunity to taste Patient Wolf gins, go behind the scenes and join intimate gin masterclasses to learn more about the distilling process.

The 30-person venue will offer a seasonal drinks menu featuring gin and tonics, classic cocktails such as a negroni or a gin martini, alongside more experimental gin combinations. 

The urban distillery will be the new home for Patient Wolf’s existing 220L Müller copper still (considered the ‘Bentley’ of stills), with a state-of-the-art 1000L still due to arrive from Germany and join production early next year.

When the new still arrives, the Patient Wolf distillery is expected to be Australia’s largest urban gin distillery. The current range includes Melbourne Dry GinSummer Thyme Gin and Blackthorn Gin featuring sloe berries from Tasmania. 

The Patient Wolf distillery and bar will open to the public from early September 2019. Thursdays and Fridays 4-8pm and Saturdays and Sundays 10am-5pm.

Leading NSW regional restaurant reopens

Kim Currie’s The Zin House, a Mudgee favourite with a national reputation, is set to reopen its doors on July 1 after being closed for six months. 

During the restaurant’s temporary closure Currie and her husband David Lowe were involved in a dispute with a business partner that jeopardised the future of Lowe Wines and the historic Tinja property where Zin House resides.

“From the beginning I said Zin House was about simple food, cooked from scratch with what we and our neighbours grow,” chef and owner Currie explains. "That hasn’t changed in five years

“What has changed is that we are taking that ethos even further. Our chefs and waiters will be working as one team to bring guests a food and wine experience that is quintessentially Mudgee - focused on what we’re growing, where we live and what we believe in.”

With the business partnership now dissolved, Currie says they are very pleased to show their appreciation to the people who have helped and supported them by getting back to what they do best.

“When you’re faced with major challenges in life you reevaluate what you want to achieve, how you go about it and how you care for the people around you," Currie said. "These considerations are reflected in the restaurant.

“I’ve thought thoroughly about the experience I want our guests to have. It’s about pleasure, not novelty. It’s about the comfort of all our senses, from the moment you arrive, to each dish, the wine you enjoy and the surroundings in which you do so.”

Currie has championed NSW regional dining and food for more than three decades with produce and producers always the central focus.

The re-launch of the restaurant will present a number of different experiences.

The hero is the Ultimate Saturday Long Lunch where guests feast on six courses with matched wines, including those from Lowe’s museum stock, and have time to wander the extensive food gardens with Zin’s gardener on hand.

Friday and Saturday Evenings at Zin offer a shorter four-course set menu for those who want the essence of Zin without the time commitment.

The popular Monday Kitchen Garden returns with an increased focus on pre-lunch foraging and a cooking demonstration style from the restaurant’s open kitchen.

On Sundays the Zin team will take up residence in the new Pavilion at Lowe. The Pavilion, a custom-built marquee located between Lowe Wines and the Zin House, specialises in weddings, functions and classic Sunday roasts.

Bookings are open now and available online at

Friday 28 June 2019

When wineries get PR very, very wrong

Like many others in the wine industry I received an email today from Sirromet Wines in Queensland, boasting about the appointment of new chief winemaker Mike Hayes, formerly of Symphony Hill.

As a throwaway line, the press release mentioned that Adam Chapman (below), the previous chief winemaker, resigned last month.

The departure of Chapman, who has spent over 20 years promoting Queensland wine, did not merit a press release and today's release mentioned him in 10 words.

How's that for respect for a key former employee?

Chapman resigned after Hayes, who can be a prickly character, was give the role of director of Vineyard and Winery Operations, last year.

Several in the wine industry saw Chapman's departure coming.

Hayes, the press release reported, has experience across 16 wine regions, four states and two countries. He will work with Jessica Ferguson, who has been promoted to the role of winemaker.

Hayes was the Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology (ASVO) Winemaker of the Year for 2017 and Queensland Winemaker of the Year in 2018.

He has plenty of runs on the board.

That said, wineries do themselves no PR favours when they try to airbrush out the achievements of previous employees.

Bad form, I think.

Maria Island readies for kangaroo and wallaby slaughter

Maria Island is promoted as a natural wildlife sanctuary and off-shore retreat with historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic cliffs and plenty of stories to tell.

From tomorrow, however, this beautiful island off the east coast of Tasmania will be closed to visitors so that hundreds, maybe thousands, of wallabies and kangaroos can be slaughtered.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service has determined there are too many cute critters on the island and many must die.

The island's culling operations have taken place since 1994, but Animal Liberation Tasmania president Kristy Alger said authorities need to look at alternative solutions.

But a Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment spokesperson said the animals become "sick and distressed" when numbers are too high.

So the shooters will go in and blast away significant numbers of the very wildlife that many visitors to Tasmania are most anxious to see.

Tourism Tasmania boasts: "Wombats can be seen around the island, as well as pademelons, Forester Kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils."

But officials are unmoved.

"PWS has a responsibility to conserve the island's biodiversity while also maintaining a viable and healthy animal population and has been actively managing the island's macropod species," a spokeswoman said.

Alternative methods of keeping numbers down, including giving male creatures vasectomies and re-location, have been rejected as too hard.

So visitors will be kept away while the hunt takes placed.

Maria Island contains the most intact example of a convict probation station in Australia and is known as an excellent walking and cycling destination.

Thursday 27 June 2019

A quick peek at Tasmania's new gourmet hotspot

There is Dylan, Janis and Lou Reed on the sound system; the vibe is mellow; the food is South American accented and the service is charming. 

Cygnet, in the deep south of Tasmania, has a new eatery; one that is open at night and is the new offering from former MasterChef finalist Sarah Clare. 

I missed the first couple of weeks through illness and an interstate trip but my first impressions tonight were positive; very positive. 

Note Ilha is BYO right now as it is waiting for its liquor license. 

Here are a few images of the tapas-style food to whet your appetite: 

Ilha, 3 Mary St, Cygnet TAS 7112. 0404 365 815 

New budget route from Australia to Asia

I am a firm fan of budget airline AirAsia. It offers cheap fares; the crew smile a lot and the food on board is very good (among the best in the air). 

I'm so impressed with AirAsia, in fact, that I have booked our winter holiday with them.

AirAsia, recently named Skytrax World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the 11th consecutive year, this week launched flights between Bangkok, Thailand and Brisbane, Australia.

The new direct route marks AirAsia’s first time operating out of Brisbane Airport and it is expected to carry up to 150,000 people between the two cities over the next year.

AirAsia X Group CEO Nadda Buranasiri said: “We are delighted to have a new home in Queensland, adding Brisbane to our Queensland ports after we commenced operating flights from the Gold Coast in 2007.

"This direct service between Bangkok and Brisbane strengthens our connections into Australia and adds to our extensive network of more than 140 destinations worldwide.

“Australia remains a key market for AirAsia and with new aircraft on order we can continue to review potential future expansion opportunities where we witness the right levels of demand for great value, medium to long haul air travel.

“In addition to attracting visitors to Brisbane, the new route will give locals a direct link to the bustling street markets, thriving nightlife and iconic temples of Thailand’s capital city as well as the stunning islands and beaches within easy reach of Bangkok."

There will be four flights a week in each direction with flights departing Brisbane on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Direct fares from Brisbane to Bangkok start at just $199.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Restaurant deal a boost for NSW wine brands

Sydney’s Tank Stream Hotel is offering diners a Taste of New South Wales wine list to complement its dishes. 

Fresh water from the Tank Stream was the reason the NSW colony was established at what is now called Sydney Cove - and the Tank Stream Hotel was developed above the still-flowing stream, which prompted the naming of the hotel restaurant, Le Petit Flot (the little stream).

Le Petit Flot’s chefs and restaurant team have designed a special set of dishes to showcase the best of the state’s produce, utilising Wagyu beef rumps from Kilcoy Global Foods in northern NSW; racks of lamb from Junee, pork belly from Braemar, and chicken from the Southern Highlands.

They will be partnered with a new selection of wines from long-established NSW wineries such as Hungerford Hill and Dalwood Estate, featuring classic local Hunter Valley varietals such as semillon, chardonnay and shiraz as well as cabernet sauvignon sourced from the cooler Hilltops region.

“Disappointingly, NSW wines are often ignored by Sydney restaurants, in complete contrast to the attitude of restaurants in other state capitals, where they love to celebrate their local wines and produce,” says Tank Stream Hotel GM Klaus Kinatader.

“We get a lot of international visitors staying with us and they usually want to try local produce and wines. It is a key part of the travel experience and given that our hotel has such a powerful connection to the State’s history we thought it was time to celebrate our premium produce and wines.”

Chief winemaker of Hungerford Hill wines, Bryan Currie, said that NSW wines deserved a far higher profile in Sydney restaurants and congratulated the Tank Stream Hotel for their vision to promote NSW wines.

“This is the same vision that I have as a winemaker with the complete wine range from both brands entirely sourced from NSW grown fruit,” he said. 

Le Petit Flot is open for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, and for Saturday night dinners. Bookings: (02) 8222 1270 and further information:

Sydney's taste of Lyon to mark Bastille Day

A Lyonnaise culinary experience is popping up in Sydney for just seven days. 

Led by a French chef with Michelin-starred-experience in honour of Bastille Week, Silvester’s restaurant at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay is undergoing a Lyonnaise makeover with cuisine, theming, music and more.

From July 8-14, French chef Raphael Szurek will be offering the classic Lyonnaise culinary experience of a bouchon (a traditional, iconic Lyon bistro). 

The dishes will be crafted from techniques inspired by globally renowned French chef Paul Bocuse, under whom Szurek trained. 

The seven dishes on offer will provide an authentic degustation featuring Champagne-infused oysters to foie gras, bouillabaisse (a traditional fish soup) to truffled beef cheek parmentier. 

Each dish can be paired with a range of French and international wines. 

"This French menu was inspired by my very first years in the kitchen in Lyon, the capital of
French gastronomy," says chef Szurek. "It is the true experience and essence of French cuisine without unnecessary artifices; showcasing classic techniques, the best locally sourced products, and authentic tastes.”

Silvester’s is at 1 Bulletin Place, Sydney NSW and the Lyonnasise experience with cost $79 per person for four courses and $139 per person for seven course and a welcome glass of French wine.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Brisbane gets an urban wine cellar door

Brisbane’s Proud Henry artisan wine bar and ginoteca is to partner with leading Granite Belt wine producer Symphony Hill to create an urban cellar door in Fortitude Valley. 

Symphony Hill is one of the stars of the Queensland wine industry and aims to boost awareness of its wines. 

Three months after a visit to the Granite Belt for his 30th birthday, Ewen Macpherson had enrolled in a viticulture degree and purchased a block of land to start producing wine. 

With his parents and wife on board they went about creating a winery that has picked up a swag of awards. 

“This partnership with Proud Henry is a great step forward for us," Macpherson said. 

"We know people love our wines so providing them in the heart of Brisbane, where we know the Proud Henry team can do them justice, is the next step in our evolution. 

"We trust their instinct and their ability. Their wine knowledge is impeccable and we are confident this collaboration is a really good match for us.” 

Proud Henry co-owners Freddy and Ashley also operate sister venue Grape Therapy. 

While Proud Henry has Queensland’s largest collection of gin under one roof, its also offers a selection of smaller, handcrafted wines. 

"We love great wine and we get excited being able to bring something new to the table," they said. 

"This collaboration sets us apart and offers us a chance to showcase what the team at Symphony Hill have to offer and showcase what we do at the same time.” 

All of Symphony Hill’s wines are available for purchase at Proud Henry and tastings are available daily from noon-5pm. 

Seven Symphony Hill wines will feature on the wine list and can be served with charcuterie and cheese. 

Proud Henry is at 153 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. (07) 3102 1237

Monday 24 June 2019

Australia's newest food and wine festival launched

The picturesque township of Berry on the New South Wales South Coast will be the venue for the inaugural South Coast Food & Wine Festival.

The event will run from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15 and aims to showcase the  best the South Coast has to offer. 

There will be over 15 events including cooking classes, demos and tastings from local hero chefs, hatted restaurants hosting pop-ups, tastings at South Coast vineyards and local food producers  supported by an array of free live music and entertainment.

The Festival’s culinary offerings will be made up of 100% South Coast producers and products, with over 50 stallholders expected to be showcasing delicacies from all over the region. Seafood, cheese, berries, wines and much more will be on offer.

A signature event of the festival will be the Long Lunch on Saturday, September 14. 

Kierrin McKnight, head chef and owner of Wild Ginger and previously of Seagrass Brasserie will be showcasing local produce with a six-course feast style menu featuring local produce in each course complemented by local wines and beers.

Tickets to the South Coast Food & Wine Festival cost $28 per person and are on sale now at

Airlines change routes to avoid Iranian airspace

Major international airlines including Qantas, British Airways, KLM and Singapore Airlines are re-routing flights to avoid parts of Iran-controlled airspace, and all US carriers have been told to avoid the area.

Flight paths over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman are being re-routed over concerns for the safety of commercial airlines after Iran used a surface-to-air missile to shoot down a US drone on Wednesday.

The incident prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue an emergency order temporarily banning carriers flying over the area.

The FAA said flight tracking devices showed the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 45 nautical miles of the unmanned aircraft when it was shot down, Reuters reported.

"There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept," the FAA said. "The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real."

Singapore Airlines warned some journeys might require longer routings to avoid the area.

A British Airways spokeswoman said: "Our safety and security team are constantly liaising with authorities around the world as part of their comprehensive risk assessment into every route we operate." 

Sunday 23 June 2019

Time to crack down on badly behaved bogans

It is happening with monotonous regularity, all over the world. 

People decide that the fact they are in an aircraft is no bar to behaving badly - very badly. 

A 25-year-old woman is in police custody in the UK this weekend after becoming disruptive on a Jet2 flight from Stansted to Dalaman in Turkey, which was forced to return to the UK, escorted by two RAF jets.

Travel Mole said the female passenger became abusive 45 minutes into the flight early on Saturday evening, allegedly attacking staff, threatening fellow passengers and attempting to get into the cockpit.

She was eventually restrained and the aircraft returned to Stansted, with backup from fighter jets from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Jet2 said: "We are aware of an incident regarding an extremely disruptive passenger on a flight from Stansted to Dalaman earlier this evening.

"The aircraft has returned safely and we are liaising with the relevant authorities to support their investigation. We are working hard to ensure the remaining customers reach their destination as soon as possible."

So hundreds of people were inconvenienced a delayed by one (alleged) imbecile.  

Time for action. Anyone who acts up on a plane should be restrained and banned from flying for life. A global ban that is vigorously enforced. 

The thought of not ever being able to fly again should give pause to even the most idiotic of morons in a hurry. 

Anyone found guilty should also pay the costs involved - and an RAF escort does not come cheap. 

The woman was arrested on suspicion of two assaults and endangering an aircraft. She remains in custody.

Festivals to warm up Perth in winter

Winter Fest 2019, which starts tomorrow, will aim to bring new life to the Perth city centre.

The festival runs from June 24 to July 21 with a program of free events and experiences around the city, including unique art installations, school holiday activities, snowfall in the malls and live ice carving.

The city's Forrest Place will be transformed as Swiss artist Dan Archer brings the Northern Lights to Perth with Borealis – a unique art installation that beams high power lasers through particle clouds to recreate the mesmerising natural phenomenon.

Winter Fest Theatre will also return, featuring magicians, acrobats, comedians, jugglers, singers and dancers; a pop-up ice-skating rink at Elizabeth Quay; plus Water Wildlife Up Close in Carillion City – allowing children to get up close with sharks, sea stars, urchins and other sea creatures.

In August, the Perth Craft Beer Festival will return to the city from August 16-18 at the Ice Cream Factory in Northbridge.

The festival will host a line-up of over 55 craft breweries and cideries, with more than 350 beers on offer, complemented by a selection of gourmet food options.

Local favourites include Nail Brewing, Feral Brewing and Gage Roads, plus limited edition festival beers from Cheeky Monkey Brewing and Rocky Ridge Brewing Co.

Special attractions this year include the Feral Biggie Bar, Matso's Lush Oasis Bar, Alby Full Strength Bar, Cheeky Monkey Silent Comedy Club, a Whisky Saloon, silent disco, plus the new edition Lagerland.

Held over four sessions, the festival caters to all tastes, with cosy fire pits, a family fun day on the Saturday session and a dedicated wine bar.

Saturday 22 June 2019

Mystery over the future of Yellow Tail producer

Mystery surrounds the future of Casella Family Brands, the owners of Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann and other leading Australian wine brands.

While the Casella family says its business is not being sold, The Drinks Business in Europe and The Shout have commented following a report in the Australian Financial Review that Casella had hired investment bank UBS “to test the appetite of potential buyers”. 

It suggested a possible price of $500 million. 

Casella Fanily Brands said "it has not begun the process" to sell some or all of its wine business, but  confirmed that it has received a number of approaches from interested parties.

The company said in a statement: “Casella Family Brands has not commenced a sale process for the business.

“There has been strong interest in the sector, driven by the recent sale of Accolade Wines and the rumoured sale of the Pernod Ricard Wine assets, and Casella Family Brands has received a number of approaches over an extended period of time from a range of investors in relation to the Casella Family Brands business.

“The company will continue to invest in the growth of its portfolio of brands including Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann Wines, Brand’s Laira, Morris Wines of Rutherglen and Baileys of Glenrowan.”

Casella has built a hugely successful business driven largely by its exports of Yellow Tail, which now stand at around 12.5 million cases a year. It has also been buying up other small producers in recent years. 

How changes to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program affect you

Qantas has announced wide-ranging changes to its Frequent Flyer program, which has over 12.7 million members.

This time around the news is mainly positive. 
Qantas Frequent Flyers will soon pay significantly less fees for international reward flights, have access to more seats and enjoy more rewards for earning points on the ground as part of the biggest overhaul to the loyalty program in its 32-year history.
Representing a $25 million investment, the changes will improve how members are recognised and rewarded as well as how they earn and redeem points.
The major initiatives, to be rolled out to members over the next 12 months, include adding more than a million extra reward seats available annually on Qantas and new partner airlines. The
The additional costs associated with flights booked with points will be reduced; saving members on average $200 per return journey.
There will also be changes to the points required for reward seats on domestic and international flights including an up to 10% reduction in the number of points required for international economy Classic Reward seats.
On the downside Qantas will Increase the points required for upgrades and Classic Reward seats in premium cabins "to better reflect the value of this premium experience". 
Qantas will also create a new tiered Points Club program to better reward members who earn most of their points through on-the-ground transactions and introduce Lifetime Platinum status, the ultimate recognition for the airline's most loyal flyers.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the changes are about strengthening Qantas Frequent Flyer to keep delivering for its almost 13 million members.
“The Qantas Frequent Flyer program has always been about rewarding customers for their loyalty," he said. "These changes are about making it easier for members to access those rewards and help to keep them highly engaged, which in turn is good news for our business as a whole.
“We know the majority of our members want to use their points to take a dream trip overseas, so we are adding more reward seats including First, Business and Premium Economy, to places like London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore as well as slashing carrier charges.
“While the points required for business class seats on international and domestic flights will increase slightly, it is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time.”
The $25 million investment is comprised of making more seats available for frequent flyers as well as the reduction in carrier charges. Increased engagement in the program is expected to offset this within the first year.
Joyce said the program overhaul would ensure the national carrier's loyalty program remained one of the most attractive and successful in the world.
"Since its inception in 1987, the frequent flyer program has grown from 50,000 members who could only earn points on travel to almost 13 million members who can earn points with more than 300 partners. The majority of the points earned across the program are used on travel. Four flight redemptions are made every minute and sixty upgrades are confirmed every hour."

Thursday 20 June 2019

How happy would you be if your flight was delayed by a squabble over a lunchbox?

A squabble between a pilot and a cabin crew member caused a two-hour delay to an Air India flight this week, Travel Mole reports.

Air India now plans to ban pilots from bringing their own food into the cockpit after the skirmish, which saw the pilot ordering the cabin crew member to clean his lunchbox after he had eaten.

Both staff members were removed from the aeroplane and were then replaced - causing a near-two-hour delay to the Bengaluru-Kolkata flight.

"We have taken a serious note of this incident that happened on Monday. We will soon ask the pilots to not bring their own food on flights," a senior airline official said.

"I have been told that the captain wanted the cabin crew member to clean the tiffin after he finished his meal. Probably, this is what led to a fight between them. An investigation regarding this incident has already been started. Strict action will be taken," another airline source said.

Both employees have been ordered to attend a meeting at the airline HQ to explain their actions.

Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani reportedly said: "This nonsense has to stop and will stop."

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Wine industry gets new Barossa showpiece

The finishing touches are being applied to a world-class cellar project that aims to showcase Australia’s premier wine region to the global wine industry.

The Barossa Grape and Wine Association will move its offices into the Barossa Cellar building in at the end of next month alongside thousands of bottles of rare wines from the famous region.

The $4.5 million project is being driven by the Barons of Barossa, a group of high-profile wine industry personalities who bought the 3-hectare greenfield site between the townships of Tanunda and Angaston in 2016.

The building has been built into the side of a hill with the cellar section effectively underground and the offices positioned towards the front of the building overlooking the valley to the west.

“The Grand Hall” running through the centre of the building can seat 100 guests or be divided into three separate sections for smaller industry workshops, meetings or tastings.

The building is expected to reach lock up by the end of the month with the fit out set for completion by July 24.

The Barons of Barossa formed in 1975 and built its collection from annual wine donations from local companies. Their 3000-bottle collection includes wines more than 20 years old from iconic Barossa wineries such as Henschke, Penfolds, Rockford, Yalumba, Greenock Creek, Peter Lehmann and Grant Burge.

More than 250-tonnes of stone donated by Treasury Wine Estates from its High Eden vineyard have been used in a feature wall near the entrance and also to line the wine vault, giving it the feel of a French cave.

The Barons’ museum wine collection will be displayed in the wine vault on shelves made from American oak donated by AP John Coopers while a second, larger cellar, will store up 36,000 bottles of the commercial wine the Barons sell to fund their operations.

The Barossa Cellar Committee Chairman and Barossa Baron James Wark said the stonework gave the building a said the stonework gave the building a natural look that reflected the region’s rugged beauty.

“We love the colour, the texture and the earthiness of it and when the sun shines on it, it’s just magical,” he said.

“One of the initiating factors for this project was that the Barons of the Barossa have got this great collection of wines but we didn’t have anywhere to store it so we originally said we’ll just build a cellar but then we decided that it was just crazy to have a storage cellar and not use it for something.”

The BGWA will move its offices from Tanunda to become the building’s sole tenant.

One of the main fundraising strategies for the project is the sale of about 1800 Shiraz vines that will be planted at the site in October. About 450 of the vines have been sold so far for $1000 each.

The vines have been propagated at Yalumba’s nursery and come from cuttings donated from 30 of the region’s top Shiraz vineyards.

The Barossa Information Centre will remain in the Tanunda main street and The Barossa Cellar, which will not be open to the public, will have an industry focus.

Events at The Barossa Cellar will likely include training workshops, vertical tastings for international wine dignitaries and industry group meetings.

BGWA Chief Executive Officer James March said the Barossa Wine Show judging in early September would be one of the first major events held at the cellar.

He said operating out of a building that had Barossa wine at its very heart was “tremendously exciting”.

“Having a purpose built facility to showcase the Barossa wine and grape story to the world will be huge,” March said.

“There are other buildings that do share similarities in Spain and Italy but this is something where the Barossa is leading from the front in Australia as far as we’re aware.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50% of Australia’s total annual production and about 75% of its premium wine.

The Barossa Valley, about 70km north of the South Australian capital Adelaide, is home to many of Australia’s most famous wine brands.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Heathrow Airport unveils an ambitious masterplan

A village will be demolished and roads and rivers will have to be diverted if a new masterplan for Heathrow Airport in London is accepted. 
A 12-week consultation started this week on expansion plans, including a new runway.

Members of the public will be able to have their say on planned development and on how the airport intends to manage the environmental impacts, Travel Mole reports.

The plans would involve demolishing nearly 800 homes, including the entire village of Longford, diverting rivers and moving roads, including the M25, which would run through a tunnel under the new runway.

Heathrow's masterplan proposes an 'Ultra Low Emissions Zone', access charge for vehicles and a 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.

It also includes property compensation, noise insulation, and a community fund.

The new runway would open in 2026 with the project completing by around 2050.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow's executive director for expansion, said: "Expansion must not come at any cost. That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly - with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.

"This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan, so it's really important that as many people as possible take part. We look forward to hearing people's views."

Jackie Clark, chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: "We will continue working with a group of local authorities, the Mayor of London and others taking legal action against a third runway and remain confident that at the next stage of the process we will successfully stop these disastrous proprosals for our community from ever taking off at the planning stage in the process."

Heathrow Airport is the second busiest in the world after Dubai. 

Brokenwood joins an exclusive wine family

Iconic Hunter Valley winery Brokenwood is the latest addition to the Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia collection.

Brokenwood completed construction of a stunning new cellar door at the end of 2018, featuring circular tasting 'pods', an expansive outdoor terrace with views over the Hunter Valley, private tasting and dining rooms, as well as a wine museum overlooking the working barrel hall.

Kate Shilling, executive officer of UWEA said: “This partnership comes at the perfect time for us as we hone our premium offering in the Hunter Valley.

"Brokenwood is the ideal fit as we develop new wine trails and combine winery experiences with everything from accommodation to helicopter transfers. There are exciting possibilities in the pipeline and we look forward to more announcements in the not too distant future.”

Established in 1970, Brokenwood Wines has become one of Australia's most famous wine labels. It is home to the famous Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the highly acclaimed ILR Reserve Semillon, and the popular Cricket Pitch range.

Brokenwood's new cellar door is the largest complex in the Hunter Valley wine region, covering 1,400 square metres.

Also onsite, casual eatery Cru Bar + Pantry is open for breakfast, lunch and snacks every day, serving homemade pies, toasties, wood-fired pizzas and cheese and charcuterie platters and wine by the glass or bottle.

The modern dining room, The Wood Restaurant, offers a contemporary fine dining experience with a strong focus on seafood.

Managing director and chief winemaker Iain Riggs AM said: “This is a great opportunity for us to capitalise on the new facilities and visitor experience we've developed at Brokenwood. We can't wait to welcome more visitors from near and far and is look forward to working with UWEA to build on our range of experiences.”

Two immersive Ultimate Winery Experiences are currently available at Brokenwood:
The Brokenwood Journey is an introduction to Brokenwood and its range of premium wines. The journey begins with an intimate tasting in the private tasting room, six premium Brokenwood wines, three white and three red, accompanied by six specially prepared canapés. The experience continues with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the winery to gain an insight into all aspects of winemaking, and delve deep into the history of Brokenwood Wines, before finally an opportunity to taste pre-release Brokenwood wine straight from the barrel.

The VIP Soil to Cellar Experience is an opportunity to gain exclusive access to one of Australia's most iconic vineyards and taste Brokenwood's flagship Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, whilst enjoying a unique and personalized soil-to-cellar experience. On arrival, guests will be greeted by a personal host for a guided tasting of premium Brokenwood semillon matched with three individually garnished oysters from The Wood Restaurant. A detailed tour of the winery follows to learn the secrets of wine production before taking a closer look at the exceptional Graveyard Shiraz vines. Next, a fine dining experience seated in the private dining room with a locally sourced four-course degustation lunch, with expertly matched award-winning Brokenwood wines. The experience concludes with a gourmet grazing charcuterie platter among the wine barrels in the Barrel Hall sampling Brokenwood's pre-release Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz and presentation of a bottle to take home.

The UWEA group of wineries is now 22 strong, with representation in most of Australia's renowned wine regions across six states. In NSW: Audrey Wilkinson and Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley. In Victoria: De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley, Pizzini Wines and Brown Brothers in the King Valley, Montalto on the Mornington Peninsula and Tahbilk in Nagambie Lakes. In South Australia: Penfold's Magill Estate in the Adelaide Hills, Yalumba in the Eden Valley, Jacob's Creek, St Hugo and Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley, d'Arenberg, Gemtree and Wirra Wirra Wines in McLaren Vale. In Tasmania: Moorilla Estate and Josef Chromy Wines. In WA: Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix and Voyager Estate in Margaret River and Mandoon Estate in the Swan Valley. In Queensland: Sirromet, producing wines from the Granite Belt region.

For details of experiences on offer see

Monday 17 June 2019

Australians invited to celebrate all things Scottish

Australians will be invited to pay tribute to the art, music and culture of Scottish cities, highlands, lochs, moors and isles with 35 festivals across Australia signing on to participate in the Year of Scotland in Australia 2020. 
Edinburgh, Scotland
YOSA 2020 will begin at Woodford Folk Festival on December 27, 2019, going on to incorporate events in every Australian state and territory until January 1, 2021.
These two traditional Hogmanay celebrations will bookmark hundreds of activities across the year showcasing the quality and diversity of Scottish musical culture.
YOSA 2020 activities include expansions to the National Celtic Festival's annual ceilidh trail, Scottish artists touring regional and remote areas via the Festival of Small Halls Australia, food and drink events as well as a renewed focus on Scottish cultural celebrations such as Burns Night, St Andrew's Day, Highland Games and Clan Gatherings.
Festivals and events of all sizes – from a 125,000-capacity celebration to an intimate 50-person event – will experience the best of Scottish music and culture. 
Organisers say the year-long program of events came about collaboratively after a group of festival directors and agents were welcomed to Scotland in August 2018.

Argyle, Tobermory
As 2020 marks the year of Coasts and Waters in Scotland – a celebration of the country's 10,000km coastline and spectacular lochs, seas, streams and rivers – YOSA 2020 will incorporate a program of music, art and activities referencing the Celtic lifeblood. 
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs for the Scottish Government said: “Scotland maintains an enduring relationship with Australia that dates back many years, and this is a phenomenal opportunity to further this with musicians on both sides of the globe sharing our dynamic traditional music scene.”
“This will leave a lasting legacy for our artists and performers to tour in Australia and share our culture even more. My hope is that countless people 'down under' will be introduced to our music, heritage and culture, and that new working partnerships will be delivered creating demand from audiences for continued Scottish performances beyond next year.”
The 2016 Australian census showed 119,416 Australian residents were born in Scotland, while over two million claimed Scottish ancestry.
YOSA 2020 is supported by a range of organisations across Scotland including Showcase Scotland Expo, The Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Music Centre. In Australia, YOSA 2020 is produced by Woodfordia Inc.