Book, stay, enjoy. That's

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Smiling faces on the Tamar Valley Wine Route

In March, I spent a couple of days in the Tamar Valley wine region. 

I was struck by the number of smiling Tasmanian faces I encountered - and I also made a side trip to Deloraine, where I popped into Red Brick Cider. 

If you happen to find yourself in Tasmania over the Easter Weekend you might want to visit Moore’s Hill, Cabbage Tree Hill, Holm Oak, Holyman or Red Brick Cider. 

Discover Margaret River's favourite winter festival


Margaret River is a delight to visit at any time of the year but there is plenty to entice wine and food lovers to the fifth annual Cabin Fever winter festival. 

Cabin Fever will boast a line-up of over 35 events taking place across the Margaret River region between July 16-25. The 2021 program and tickets will be available from April 14. 
Among the key drawcards will be Perth French bistro Le Rebelle venturing to the South West of Western Australia to create a feast with Dunsborough’s Yarri for a Bordeaux versus Margaret River wine tasting, with guests sampling hero wines from both regions.
The return of the Cheese Toastie Battle at The Common will see a new line-up of chefs battling it out to be crowned the Cheese Toastie Champion. 

Blazing Brews at Beerfarm is also back with fire, live music and a range of food and beverage offerings.
Chow’s Table and Wildhop Brewery will team up for a carnivore’s delight with East Meats West, showcasing both eastern and western cuisine styles. 

Shelter Brewing Co. will embrace their seafront location with a sea shanty event while chef 
Chef Ben Jacob’s newest venture Lagoon Yallingup will team up with Fremantle’s Manuka Woodfired Kitchen to create a four-course dinner with matched wines at Lagoon’s ocean-side venue.
Gourmets who are eager to secure tickets to the event and get a host of great deals from Cabin Fever venues (such as wine discounts, free wine flights and more) can sign up to become a “Friend of Cabin Fever” for just $20 and will gain access to pre-sale tickets on April 12. 

FInd out more on Friends of Cabin Fever here:

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Sapphire standard: How sustainable is your gin?

The team behind Bombay Sapphire Gin is on a mission to ensure their product is 100% sustainable by the end of the year.

The aim is for Bombay Sapphire, distilled in England but owned by the Barcardi group, to be the first major brand made with 100% sustainably-sourced botanicals. 

After decades spent building sustainable partnerships with farmers and suppliers, Bombay Sapphire has announced that all 10 of its botanical ingredients are on track to be certified sustainable by late 2021. 

With the suppliers of eight botanicals already certified according to the For Life standard, the goal is for the remaining two producers – for grains of paradise from Ghana and licorice from China – to be certified in the months which follow the lifting of travel restrictions.

Bacardi has set 2025 as a target for sourcing 100% of all its key ingredients across the board from sustainably certified suppliers.

The 10 Bombay botanicals include juniper from Tuscany, coriander from Morocco, lemon peel from Spain and cubeb berries from Java, are selected by Ivano Tonutti to create the gin’s fresh, bright taste.

The For Life certification is awarded by Ecocert, the world’s leading specialist in the certification of sustainable practices. 

“We take a 360-degree approach to sustainability,” says Bombay's Ivano Tonutti. ”It’s our responsibility to care as much about the farmers and their communities as we do the botanicals they grow and harvest for Bombay Sapphire.

"By looking after their well-being and investing in sustainable farming practices, we are helping to protect the environment and their livelihoods for generations to come.”

Sarah Nichols, Marketing Director for Bacardi ANZ, says: “Our sustainability credentials are second to none and thanks to the team’s hard work we are reaching new heights. We’re now hoping to inspire others to follow in our footsteps. It’s only if we invest in the environment as an industry that we can really move the needle.”

For details see

Monday 29 March 2021

How to bring gender stereotyping to your reveal party

Gender reveal parties are all the rage, I am assured. 

Expectant parents hold a party at which they reveal whether they are expecting a boy or a girl. The parties are often themed pink for a girl, blue for a boy and bright purple or green for a non-binary baby. 

Leading Champagne House Maison Pommery has now released mini bottles of bubbly designed for these parties. 

The POP It’s a boy, POP It’s a girl range has been launched across Australia with the piccolo bottles containing 200ml of Champagne with a traditional cork and wire cage. 

The drinks are designed to enable parents and their friends to "pop" and toast their happy news. 

POP is billed as the first Champagne range blended to be consumed directly from the bottle or with a straw.

POP It’s a girl! is, as you'd expect, a rosé Champagne, with POP It’s a boy! a more macho brut style. Gender stereotyping at its finest. 

The bottles have an RRP of $30.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Four decades of refinement pays quality wine dividends

Pioneering Orange winemaker Stephen Doyle takes a different approach to his cool-climate riesling - an approach that has paid major dividends over almost four decades. 

Doyle releases his Bloodwood rieslings with a couple of years of bottle age - the 2018 ($32) has just hit the market - and he is constantly seeking to refine the style. 

The Bloodwood vineyard was planted in 1983 and Doyle admits that it took 10 to 15 years to really understand the vineyard in order to define his approach. 

"The Bloodwood style moved around a bit in the early years as we gained experience and a better understanding of our site," he says. 

“Ideally, riesling, regardless of residual [sugar] , should sit on a knife’s edge between fruit and acidity with the taster constantly questioning that fine line.

“Over the years I’ve been working a little more on the mid-palate in order to build texture. The current style works best with the grapes from our unique site. 

"We concentrate on a clean, efficient ferment minimising volatile acidity and extended ferment character. We’ve been building texture on the mid-palate since 2008, giving the wine at least six months on fine lees.”

The Scott Henry-trellised riesling vineyard sits on the higher reaches of the Bloodwood property. 

“The soil is very low-vigour, calcareous laminated silt stone and shale, the vines are all hand-pruned and hand-picked, and grown using organic principles, only ever using copper and sulphur sprays, and only if we have to,” Doyle says.

“It’s a variable site, so each vine is pruned according to its vigour, with the aim to produce around 4000 litres from the 0.8-hectare block. 

"The deep, free-draining warm gravels of Bloodwood give Riesling an austerity and fruit density which remains rare in Australian styles.

“The Orange region is in its infancy and is still working out how to grow the traditional varieties.This needs time.” 

Both the 2018 and the 2010 are wines of rare style and substance - designed for aficionados.

The Bloodwood wines are distributed directly from the winery via Bloodwood’s website

Saturday 27 March 2021

Chinese bastardry forces Australian wine producers to pivot

The announcement that China will apply duties of up to 218.4% on most Australian wine exporters has left the wine industry needing to pivot quickly. 

Australian Grape & Wine said today that it is now focusing its attention on driving growth in developing markets. 

China’s Ministry of Commerce of Commerce (MOFCOM) yesterday released its final determinations on investigations into allegations of dumping of Australian wines in China and trade distorting subsidies (countervailing duties), applying duties on imports of all bottled, still wines from Australia.

“While it is disappointing, the industry is not surprised by today’s decision,” said Tony Battaglene, CEO of Australian Grape & Wine. 

“We continue to reject the allegations levelled against Australian Grape & Wine members and have approached both investigations as collaboratively and transparently as possible.”

Battaglene said the industry had been preparing for this outcome.  

“Our focus now is two-fold. Firstly, we’re working with industry and the Australian Government to assess options available to us within the Chinese system, and internationally," he said. 

"And secondly, we’re focusing on growing demand for Australian wine in other markets across Asia, Europe, US, and the UK.

“We have worked closely with the Australian Government throughout this process and I want to thank Ministers for the work they have done in what has been a very challenging period for everyone.”

“The Australian Government’s $72.7 million investment to help agribusinesses expand their export markets is a great first step to getting on with the job of finding new markets for Australian wine. 

"It’s going to take collaboration, hard work and commitment, but if we work together we’re confident that we can drive growth in market access and sales in a range of markets in the coming years.”

# Australian Grape and Wine Inc is the national association of grape and wine producers. 

Friday 26 March 2021

Sleeping in a "mega morgue" proves a surprise

I don't do camping - I joke to friends that I dislike the lack of room service. And I certainly like an en-suite bathroom.

I'm also not keen on hostels. Too noisy, too busy and no privacy.

So what am I doing staying at the Pod Inn in Launceston, Tasmania, sharing bathrooms and a common space with backpackers and budget travellers from around the globe?

I'm having my first Pod experience and apart from some early claustrophobia - and a momentary panic in the middle of the night when I can't find the button to open my pod door - it is a success - and a money saver.

Often, all you need from a night in town is a bed, wifi and bathroom facilities (shared or not).

The first capsule hotel in the world opened in 1979: the Capsule Inn Osaka, located in the Umeda district of Osaka. In Australia they are a relatively new phenomenon. 

The bathrooms and toilets at the Pod Inn appeared clean, even if I am not overly keen to share. 

My plastic Superior Side Entrance Capsule Bed (below) was relatively spacious for one person but would be a little tight for two - although at $60 a night, beggars can't be choosers.

I'm certainly glad to be on the lower level, not having to climb up to a first-storey pod in what has been described as a "mega morgue for the living". 

The capsule is certainly well equipped with room to easily slide in and out through the card-controlled sliding door. You are provided with a comfortable mattress, comfy pillows and quilts. 

There is a dimmable ambient light, laptop desk, a safe to lock up your valuables, reading lights, air conditioning, USB charger port, power point, back-lit mirror, smoke detector and coat hooks. 

A locker space and towel is provided to each guest.

The capsule bed was intended to provide basic layover accommodation for those who didn't want to pay big bucks for full service hotel. Often mega drunk businessmen who were just sober enough to realise they wanted something better than a shared hostel room. The Launceston operation opened in 2018.

Guests can control their own lights and ventilation to suit themselves - and you don't have to worry about disturbing other guests. 

I expected to hear some noise from other guests but slept relatively well, although getting in and out of the pod to go the toilet in the middle of the night was tiresome. 

As a plus for those not wanting to brave the mean streets of Launceston, there is also an on-site noodle bar eatery.  

All in all the Pod Inn delivers exactly what it says. And I hear an offshoot is coming to downtown Hobart very soon. 

# The writer paid his own way

Thursday 25 March 2021

Virgin scraps free "snacks" and gouges flyers

Virgin Australia has scrapped free snacks in economy class domestic flights as of today - not that most customers will notice. 

Executive Traveller reported that Virgin believes economy passengers will happily trade free snacks and drinks for lower airfares. 

On all flights from today, Virgin will require economy class flyers to pay for everything apart from water, tea and coffee.

The withdrawal of snacks is no loss as the tiny 50-gram packets of biscuits or pretzels were an insult to the intelligence of their customers, rarely comprising more than a mouthful or two. 

Virgin Australia's new in-flight economy menu doesn't miss when it comes to prices with $9 for a Great Northern Super Crisp Lager, $12 for a small bottle of Grant Burge wine, $5 for a KitKat, or a ludicrous $7.50 for a pot noodle dish. 

The airline promises more items will be introduced "later in the year when travel demand is expected to resume to near pre-Covid levels."

Until then, buy some sustenance pre-flight, or go hungry. 

Rediscover Melbourne on the cheap

Melbourne is back post-Covid and the TFE hotels group has slashed prices in a bid to boost visitation numbers. 
A playground for creatives, foodies, fashionistas and sports lovers, Melbourne buzzes with its laneways, cafés and fine dining restaurants. 

The TFE offers include extras such as free parking, a complimentary bottle of wine, late check-out or savings up to 30% when you book direct. 

Among the best deals are: Travelodge Hotel Melbourne Docklands and Travelodge Hotel Melbourne Southbank both with a 6pm late check-out and a complimentary bottle of wine from $109 per night. 

Vibe Hotel Melbourne has deals for $169 per night with a complimentary upgrade, daily breakfast, welcome drinks and late check-out (use the code EXPMELB) and Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne (above)  has a deal for $163 per night, book for three nights, pay for two, plus a late check-out. 

For a range of deals see  

A sustainable path for Victoria's oldest family owned winery

Tahbilk Winery, in the Nagambie Lakes region of Victoria, has long been committed to the environment, regenerating their internal wetlands and walking trails since 1995. This month sees the launch of an Indigenous Native Flora Walking Trail.

The trail will be opened on Wednesday, March 31, and is a collaboration between the Taungurung Land and Waters Council, the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Tahbilk.

The Indigenous Native Flora Walking Trail is the culmination of Hayley Purbrick’s (fifth generation at Tahbilk) vision and her engagement with the local community to bring it to fruition.

The trail is two kilometres long (approximately 30 minutes of walking time), features 12 highlighted native species and follows the existing short wetlands walking track.

Informative signs dot the track and a keepsake brochure features stunning artwork by local Taungurung Elder Mick Harding and species illustrations by Tahbilk-based artist Rosa Purbrick.

The re-vegetation program at Tahbilk plays an important part in Tahbilk’s sustainability credentials – they have been accredited CarboNZero since 2012 – it also has a role to play in the local tourism offering and community.

With Tahbilk already a well-visited tourism destination, the Indigenous Native Flora Trail joins the historic cellar door and original underground cellars, iconic vineyards, Wetlands View Restaurant and the extensive Wetlands Precinct as a welcome tourism addition.

“We’re so delighted to see the Indigenous Native Flora Trail come to be and I give huge thanks to our collaborators – the Taungurung Land and Waters Council and the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority – whose experience, knowledge and wisdom were invaluable," says Hayley Purbrick.

"We could not have done it without them and I am glad they will be here to celebrate with us next Wednesday. We look forward to welcoming all community to Tahbilk, to learn more about our indigenous history.”

See for more information.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Rex to fly Sydney to Canberra route from $99

Regional Express (Rex) has announced it will fly seven daily services between Sydney and Canberra.

The airline will launch non-stop flights between the two cities from April 19, Canberra and Sydney from April 19, Travel Daily reported. 

Rex Deputy Chairman, John Sharp, accused Qantas of "fare gouging" on the route which it currently monopolises following the exit of Virgin Australia from the market.

Rex will open a lounge at Canberra Airport, with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr describing the deal as a "vote of confidence" in the destination.

"We are delighted to be working closely with the airline and Canberra Airport through Visit Canberra to widely promote the new services and contribute to the growth of the route," Barr said. 

Flights on 33-seat Saab 340B turboprops will start from $99.

I might have discovered Tasmania's perfect rustic getaway

It is a beautifully clear night for sitting in the outdoor hot tub, enjoying a glass or two of local pinot noir under the stars. 

The only sounds come from sheep in a nearby paddock. 

It is always nice when a new place you have reported on over-delivers, but that was certainly the case with Cedar Cottage - a perfect couples retreat tucked away in a bush setting outside the northern Tasmanian hamlet of Meander. 

Eco-luxe Cedar Cottage has been almost fully booked since it opened late last year; a tribute not only to marketing skills, but also word of mouth. 

Sarah Williams, the woman behind this two-bedroom getaway, is a marketing dynamo who has travelled widely - hence all the bases are covered when it comes to life's little luxuries.

A lot of thought has gone into the vibe here; it is rustic but with all modern comforts like super-sharp German kitchen knives, binoculars to check out the local bird life of kooparoona niara/the Great Western Tiers, and USB recharging slots in each room. 

There is also free unlimited wifi, Netflix and Stan for anything you've been meaning to binge watch, along with a small library.   

Located just minutes from World Heritage wilderness, potential activities include fly fishing, bushwalking, river sledding, horse riding, canyoning, caving, cultural tours and other adventures, or just kicking back and enjoying the tranquillity.

There is an excellent house manual full of useful suggestions and local tips. 

Gourmets can stock up at Launceston’s famous Harvest Market, on the the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail and the Deloraine-Latrobe Produce Loop, with handcrafted local chocolates, cheeses, smoked salmon, truffles, honey, raspberries, ice cream, craft beer, cider and boutique wineries and distilleries all close by.

The cottage boasts a full chef’s kitchen (but no microwave, which I am told is under consideration). 

The property is self-catering but coffee beans, sugar, a selection of teas, and hot chocolate, milk, spices and herbs: black peppercorns, rock salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, chili flakes, chili ground, smoked paprika, bay leaves, oregano and turmeric, olive oil, balsamic and white wine vinegar are all provided.

In summer, enjoy the veranda and cooking on the outdoor fire pit, and grab vegetables and fruit from the organic cottage garden (the tomatoes and berries were outstanding). 

Guests can unwind in that hot tub on a private deck facing the the mountains, look out for curious wildlife and take in the pristine beauty of an uninterrupted night sky.

In winter, both beds have electric blankets and there is reverse cycle air conditioning. 

The vibe is rural, but oh so cosy and comfortable. I loved it. Perfect for some "me" or "us" time. Prices from $395 per night. 

# The writer was a guest of Cedar Cottage  


Tuesday 23 March 2021

Combine wine tasting with an indigenous cultural journey

Gemtree Wines in McLaren Vale has partnered with Senior Cultural Custodian Karl Winda Telfer of Yellaka to share Tirkandi – an inspiring journey of Culture, Connection and Country.

Karl is a senior man from the Mullawirra Meyunna (dry forest people/family clan) which is known today as the Kaurna nation from the Adelaide region.

He is a designer, artist, educator and co-founder of Yellaka - "Old Wisdom - New Ways", an initiative to keep young people strong in culture and identity, through cultural teachings and learnings.

Through small group events taking place from March to October 2021, Karl will share his knowledge and heritage within the idyllic setting of the Gemtree Eco-Trail, set among native gumtrees and wildlife.

The one-kilometre trail reveals the unique and diverse habitat that has evolved through a regenerative commitment to the land by Gemtree owners, Melissa and Mike Brown.

The Tirkandi experience continues in the Tasting Room, where guests can sample some of the finest Gemtree wines.

All Gemtree wines are certified organic and biodynamic. To book, click HERE.

Discover more at

A hotel room for $48 a night?

A hotel room in Australia or New Zealand for $48 per night? It sounds to good to be true, but it isn't.

The only snag is you'll need to be quick.

ibis budget is slashing room rates to $48 per night for a flash sale starting this Friday (March 26).

But there is only a short 48-hour window to snap up the bargain rooms - altthough the offer is valid for stays up to 13 months from the booking date.

The offer is valid at 18 ibis budget hotels across Australia and New Zealand with locations in cities, coastal towns and regional holiday hotspots.

All ibis budget hotels offer flexible cancellations and enhanced hygiene and cleanliness standards, Accor  says.

To book visit

Participating hotels include: ibis budget Sydney East; ibis budget Sydney Airport; ibis budget St Peters; ibis budget Sydney Olympic Park; ibis budget Enfield (top); ibis budget Wentworthville; ibis budget Casula Liverpool; ibis budget Newcastle; ibis budget Coffs Harbour; ibis budget Campbelltown; ibis budget Dubbo, ibis budget Canberra; ibis budget Melbourne Airport; ibis budget Fawkner; ibis budget Dandenong; ibis budget Brisbane Airport; ibis budget Auckland Central, ibis budget Auckland Airport (above).

The deal is valid for bookings made at participating hotels in Australia and New Zealand between 12.01pm on March 26 and 11.59am on March 28.

Monday 22 March 2021

Clare Valley gourmet festival expands its horizons

The Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend will bounce back as a two-weekend event in 2021. 

Instead of the traditional celebration, the event will be held over two weekends and during the week from Friday, May 14 to Sunday, May 23. 

The 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and the committee has taken the opportunity to give the event a new look, incorporating a new week-long celebration, private dinners, education classes and more.

The 10 days will feature indulgent dinners, special events and musical entertainment, mini events and more. 


Spokesperson Marnie Roberts says the event will be bigger and better than ever before.


“The Clare Gourmet is a major drawcard on our regional calendar, and this year, we wanted to respect the event and it’s origins, but revamp the concept to accommodate the modern event goer,” she said. 

“The team set out with high hopes and empty stomachs to reshape the festival, and we can’t wait to showcase the region’s best food and wine in May.


“The event will also host three new associated events, including the Riesling Masterclass, the Producer’s Market and a Vintage Tasting. What’s more, the Adelaide Guitar Festival will take part in the ‘On the Road’ program during the Gourmet Week, featuring musicians in three locations around the region, including Auburn, Mintaro and Riverton from May 21-23.


“We are also pleased to welcome Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) as our major sponsor for the event this year. This is a great partnership which we hope to continue for the future of the event.


“We hope consumers can enjoy, be educated and be part of the Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week for just one weekend, two weekends or the entire week. They can learn first-hand the story of Clare Valley wine, meet the winemakers, plus indulge in private dinners at their favourite winery.


“We encourage visitors to jump on a bus from Adelaide, stay for the weekend or organise a group itinerary to enjoy the very best that the festival has to offer.” 


Around 25 wineries, one brewery and 10 regional restaurants/pubs will take part in the Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week. For more information, event tickets and the program, please visit

Is this the ultimate sweet treat for Easter

Is this the ultimate sweet treat for Easter? 

Morris Wines of Rutherglen have released a special limited-edition pack comprising a bottle of NV George Morris Classic Muscat and six-hand-painted muscat-infused chocolates.

The pack is a collaboration between Morris and fair-trade Sydney chocolatier Jen Lo from Meltdown Artisan in Darlinghurst. 

Each pack comes in an eco-friendly box and contains 500ml of NV Classic Muscat plus chocolates. 

here to purchase online.

If you are in regional Victoria this Easter, pop into the Morris cellar door in Rutherglen to stock up. 

Sunday 21 March 2021

The one way Covid-19 has been good for planet earth

Covid-19 lockdowns around the globe have led to air quality improvements in many countries, a new study reveals. 

IQAir's 2020 World Air Quality Report said emissions from industry and transport fell during lockdowns, with 84% of countries enjoying improved air quality.

"The connection between Covid-19 and air pollution has shone new light on the latter, especially as many locations have observed visibly cleaner air - revealing that air quality improvements are possible with urgent, collective action," the report said.

IQAir looked at air quality in more than 100 countries. 

It found cities like Singapore and Bangkok showed significant improvements when they imposed 'circuit-breaker' movement restrictions.

It expects, however, to see air pollution levels to rise again when business and travel gets back to pre-pandemic levels, Travel Mole reported.

Asian cities continue to be the most polluted in the world with most found in either China or the Indian sub-continent.

Hotan in China's western Xinjiang region was the world's most polluted city, but the next 13 were all in India.

Wildfires were also a major contributor to high pollution levels with Los Angeles and Melbourne seeing the largest increase compared to 2019.

Friday 19 March 2021

Hot August nights come to the Northern Territory for the Darwin Festival

Looking for an excuse to visit Darwin?

The city comes alive each August when Darwin Festival is held. 

Running from August 5-22 this year, the annual celebration of Australian art and culture will span 18 hot August nights.

The opening weekend will highlight Darwin's role in First Nations culture, including art, music or fashion. 

The festival kicks off on Thursday, August 5 with a free, open-air event at The Amphitheatre at George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. 

From August 6-8, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair offers a chance to ethically purchase artwork direct from over 70 Indigenous-owned Art Centres, with 100% of all sales made going back to the artists and their communities.

Music lovers won’t want to miss the National Indigenous Music Awards on August 7. 

Festival CEO James Gough says: “It is a privilege to highlight the breadth and depth of First Nations cultural events in the NT. Darwin is set to come alive this August as the beating heart of First Nations culture in Australia and we are proud to amplify these associated events as part of the 2021 Darwin Festival program.

‘Darwin Festival prides itself on being a leading presenter of First Nations arts and culture. We are committed to supporting First Nations’ voices and artists. It is central to identity of the Festival.”

Early release shows will be announced early May, with full program details announced on June 18. 


Thursday 18 March 2021

Enjoy a weekend wine experience at a world-class golf course in Tasmania

Halliday Wine Companion is launching the inaugural Halliday Barnbougle Cup in Tasmania from May 14-16. 

The luxury weekend will pair fine wines with a stellar golfing experience, offering guests the opportunity to play on Tasmania’s Barnbougle courses by day and dine on fresh, locally-sourced produce by night.

Guests will enjoy a four-course food and wine masterclass complete with matched highly rated wines and expert insights from host and Halliday tasting team member, Ned Goodwin, MW. 

Goodwin (below) is a former dux of the Len Evans Tutorial, Japan’s first Master of Wine and ex-sommelier of the Michelin-starred Veritas restaurant in New York. Tickets retail for $1350 per person.

Barnbougle is located on the north-east coast of Tasmania and is home to two of the top-100-rated courses in the world: Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm.

There’s plenty on offer for non-golfers looking to enjoy the weekend away, too. Golf may be replaced with other experiences including wellness treatments at Barnbougle’s Spa 180, or a trip to one of the region’s award-winning cellar doors. 

Packages include a Halliday welcome pack, 2 x nights accommodation at Lost Farm Lodge; 
18 holes on Lost Farm – or 60-minute Taster Treatment at Barnbougle's Spa 180; 18 holes on The Dunes – or 60-minute Relaxation Treatment at Spa 180; casual dinner on Friday evening in the Sports Bar, including Halliday-rated wines; four-course dining experience at Lost Farm Restaurant matched with highly-rated Halliday wines; boutique spirit tasting and breakfast and lunch daily. 

For more information contact the Barnbougle reservations team at or phone (03) 6356 0094.

A new Melbourne CBD address for wine lovers and gourmets

Handpicked Wines, which makes wines from several premium region in Australia, has opened a luxury cellar in the Melbourne CBD. 

The Handpicked facility is at high-end precinct 80 Collins and the three-level space doubles as a retail wine shop and premium cheese, charcuterie and wine bar.

‘Tasting pods’ are integrated within the retail area, which also includes an ‘experience room’ designed for wine flights and education, with a mezzanine that overlooks the cellar door.

Handpicked is the first Australian winemaker to enter the luxury wine retail space and the cellar door will showcase more than 50 wines from the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Barossa Valley and Tasmania. 

With its vineyards currently under organic conversion, Handpicked has a large focus on sustainability moving forward. 

“What’s unique is the fact that our passion for making great wines is not limited to one region or style," says chief winemaker Pete Dillon (above). 

"We are lucky to work with the best regions and varietals in the country, which allow us to express the wine’s style true to its character. With that being said, our production team and facility are based in Victoria, so Victorian wine regions and the Melbourne community are very special to us – which is why we are excited by this new location.

“The goal with our cellar door is to bring the charm of viticulture and winemaking to an urban experience, where we can share and celebrate great wines with our guests. We have just released three new wines off two incredible sites we acquired in Tasmania a couple of years ago that are in conversion to organics, and we are excited to show these sorts of wines to our customers,” 

Open for a light breakfast, lunch, or supper seven days a week, with indoor and outdoor seating on Benson Walk, the cellar door menu focuses on regionality including a cheese selection from the world’s greatest producers both homegrown (Holy Goat and Meredith from Victoria, for example) as well as the best from France and Italy. 

Charcuterie follows the same vein with cured meats from the Barossa (Schultz pancetta, smoked Wagyu) or prosciutto and jamon sliced to order. Guests can also indulge in a deli lunch and choose from tins of Ortiz anchovies or La Belle Iloise sardines to be layered over sourdough or olive bread, and seasonal offerings may include raclette or truffle toasties in winter.

“As well as curated wine tastings, we have wine flights on offer, barrel tastings and regular wine workshops held in the dedicated events space and led by our stellar team. For convenience, wines can be purchased at the cellar door or delivered within three hours, paired perfectly with a selection of cheeses and charcuterie”, says operations manager Andrew Robinson.

Handpicked cellar door is located inside the 80 Collins precinct, a destination where curated dining meets luxury retail. The venue joins Georg Jensen, Mulberry and a new Saint Laurent flagship, as well as some of Melbourne’s most distinctive hospitality offerings. 

For bookings call (03) 7036 1088 or see

Handpicked Wines was established in 2001 by founder William Dong and owns its own vineyards in the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Tasmania, and Barossa.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Global wine behemoth swoops to buy Barossa boutique producer

Global wine company Accolade Wines has confirmed the acquisition of Rolf Binder Wines in the Barossa Valley as part of its on-going growth strategy. 

Rolf Binder was established in 1955 as Veritas Wines by Rolf Heinrich Binder and his wife, Franziska, and is now run by his son Rolf Binder Jnr and daughter Christa Deans.

The Binder family produces a range of highly acclaimed premium Barossa wines using fruit from their own vineyards. They specialise in red wines.

The Accolade Wines portfolio includes Houghton, Hardys, Grant Burge, St Hallett, Petaluma, Banrock Station, and Katnook, as well as House of Arras and Jam Shed.

This is the second acquisition under new CEO Robert Foye, following the purchase of Katnook Estate in Coonawarra late last year. 

“We are delighted to bring a business with such legacy and deep experience in the Barossa Valley as Rolf Binder into the Accolade Wines family,” Foye said. 

“We are excited about the role the Rolf Binder brand will play in our diverse portfolio and the role the Rolf Binder premium red and white grapes will have in supporting Accolade’s other Barossa brands, including Grant Burge and St Hallett.”

The Rolf Binder winery, including more than 100 hectares of vineyard, was offered for sale by the family last year.


“We are excited to announce that Accolade Wines is taking on Rolf Binder Wines," said Rolf Binder Jnr. "As one of the biggest wine companies in the world, we believe Accolade has the capacity to take Rolf Binder wines global. 

"This announcement is also great news for the Barossa and this additional investment will continue to support the Barossa’s profile as a leading global wine region.”

No purchase price was revealed. 

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Country Tasmanian festival aims to hit the high notes

Ange Boxall is one of Australia's finest country music singers who had stints in London and Nashville and has worked with artists including JD Souther, Jim Lauderdale and The Wrights. 

Tasmanian Boxall is also the founder and creative producer of ECHO: A Festival of the Senses, an eclectic three-day event on the east coast of the Apple Isle. 

ECHO runs from March 26-28 at Gala Mill at Cranbrook on the East Coast, and boasts a program bursting with Tasmania's cultural and culinary talent. 

While many other Tasmanian events center their programs and offerings on interstate and international artists, ECHO celebrates the vibrancy of the Island, working closely with visual artists, producers, chefs and musicians based across the regions and the songlines of Tasmania.

Boxall describes it as "a gathering of good souls and celebration of our community, history and the Island’s natural beauty".

The program at the heritage mill includes whisky, wine and gin tastings, oyster demonstrations, grape stomping and live music on the back of a truck. 

The new program The Gathering of the Clans, features selections from other Tasmanian festivals: The Unconformity, Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival and Junction Arts Festival.

This adults-only festival also connect with country and Lutruwita’s history and First Peoples . 

"The 2021 program celebrates everything at the heart of ECHO," says Boxall. "Community, stories, authentic experiences and the coming together of cultural and culinary legends. 

"It is a celebration and representation of who we are on the Island. More than ever, we crave these experiences and after the year we’ve all had, I can't wait to come back together.

"This past year has not only starved us of artistic and cultural experiences, we’ve been deprived on a sensory level - touch, shared tastes, sounds, and scent. ECHO warmly wakes us up, and takes us on a journey of exploration to reignite those senses, while forging unforgettable memories.”

Tickets are available via the ECHO website.

Monday 15 March 2021

What businesses do not want you to know: Your consumer rights

Today is World Consumer Rights Day - an international celebration of consumer power - and CHOICE is reminding Australians of the consumer rights they may not know they had. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of exactly what your rights are, and what you’re entitled to if something goes wrong,” says CHOICE consumer rights expert Amy Pereira. 


1. If a product fails, you are entitled to either a repair, replacement, or refund


“When you purchase a product, that product must meet consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law. For example, the item must be fit for purpose and free of any defects. It should match the description on its packaging or on the website you purchased it from,” says Pereira.


“If a product that you’ve purchased doesn’t work you have a right to a fair fix. If the problem is minor, the retailer can decide to offer a refund, repair or replacement. However, if you’re facing a major problem, you get to choose between a refund or replacement.”


2. Two or more minor faults can equal a major failure


“A recent addition to the consumer law says that if a product you’ve purchased has two or more minor failures, and you wouldn’t have purchased the product if you knew about these failures, it’s considered to have a major failure. This is really important as it means that you have more options when it comes to asking for a repair, refund or replacement. For example, if you face multiple problems with a new car, it’s now much clearer that you should be offered a replacement or a refund,” says Pereira. 


3. Most extended warranties are useless


“Businesses will often try to convince you to buy an extended warranty, but in most cases you really don’t need one. If an item you purchase is faulty, under the consumer law a retailer has to  offer you a remedy. It’s also good to know that your right to a remedy will remain in place for a reasonable amount of time after you’ve purchased something, even if the warranty has expired. If a company tries to sell you an extended warranty, ask them to explain what that warranty offers above and beyond your rights under the Australian Consumer Law,” says Pereira. 


4. “No refund” signs aren’t enforceable


“A business can’t opt out of the consumer law. Signs that say ‘no refund’ or ‘no refund on sales items’ are illegal, as they suggest that you aren’t entitled to a refund under any circumstances. The consumer law says that you must be given a remedy for a faulty product,” says Pereira. 


5. Don’t take no for an answer


“If you suspect that a retailer isn’t treating you fairly, contact your state or territory’s fair trading agency who can help you get a fair outcome. You can also report issues to the ACCC, as they have the power to take action against businesses that breach the consumer law,” says Pereira. 

Despite what many retailers and distributors will tell you, the law also applies to wine. If you buy a corked or faulty bottle then you are entitled to a refund.


Read more tips on your consumer rights here: