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Monday 28 February 2022

Winemakers and not-so-wily scammers

We are all familiar with the many scammers to be found in today's online environment - and the wine industry is a regular target for these chancers. 

A Victorian winemaker friend recently received an email that raved about his 2018 Pinot Noir, which had been sampled and enjoyed at a Melbourne restaurant. 


Except this person added: "I’m on a social network platform called TIKTOK and I’ve made a video talking about your wines and recommending this particular wine. I have given you a really good plug." 

And raved on: "I’ve put you on a social platform and given you a highly highly wonderful recommendation and are hoping that people will buy your wines."

This person claims to have 10,000 TikTok followers and then gets down to the nitty gritty:

"I’ve given free advertising to a market of 12,000 people worldwide - you can thank me by giving me a dozen bottles, I’m you’re [sic] advocate." 

Even worse, the scammer mentions the winemaker's former partner, who died several years ago. And does not, of course, include a link to the alleged TikTok review. 

There were a couple of giveaways in that the email was full of both spelling and grammatical errors. Bin. 

Many winemakers are also familiar with emails demanding replacement bottles for those that were "corked". 

One winemaker tells me a funny story. 

"There was an email I received in about 2006 complaining that they had a bottle of my wine that was corked. 

"I had stopped using corks a few vintages before the one they claimed was corked. They wanted me to send a replacement bottle to an address in NE Vic that was a vacant block. 

"I emailed a warning to friends who still used cork and found that the person had tried the same scam widely." 

It seems busy winemakers are seen as any easy target. Stay sharp people. 

And if anyone else has been a victim of these, or similar, scams, please drop me a line. 

Sunday 27 February 2022

Tequila all the rage for Mardi Gras

Patrón Tequila has been a huge success story in the Australian spirits space, with sales growing by 38% over the past 12 months. 

The Mexican distiller makes a virtue of the fact that every bottle is both additive- and sugar-free, is hand-numbered for security and contains 100% native Weber Blue agave and zero additives. 

Patrón is recognised as an industry leader in waste reduction and environmental consciousness - and is pitching as a preferred party drink for next week's Mardi Gras celebrations. 

If you are planning a pre-parade party, here is a simple Patrón Tequila Sunrise cocktail recipe: 

Ingredients: 60ml Patrón Silver, 120ml fresh orange juice, 15ml Grenadine syrup plus an orange slice for a garnish. Fresh and nice and simple.

Pour the Patrón Silver and orange juice into a highball glass and fill with ice. Float grenadine on surface of drink. Garnish with an orange slice.

The to mastering cocktails from home and creating a great drink is not to overthink the flavour combinations and to keep the number of ingredients down. 

An alternative party choice is Patrón Cucumber and Coconut Margarita. For this, you combine 45ml of Patrón Silver with 60ml coconut water, 15ml fresh lime juice, 15ml simple syrup and four thin slices of cucumber. 

Shake all together in a cocktail shaker with ice, then strain onto fresh ice in a highball glass – garnish with cucumber.

Tequila is, of course, all the rage right now with CNBC reporting recently that it is poised to overtake vodka as the best selling spirit in the US. 
Patrón Silver is available at Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores nationally for an RRP of $96.00. 

Saturday 26 February 2022

A taste of regional Tasmania just 30 minutes from Hobart


A Taste of the Huon, one of the most popular regional gourmet events in Tasmania, is returning to the Huon Valley after last year’s cancellation caused by the Covid pandemic.

The event will be held at the Ranelagh Recreation Grounds, just 30 minutes south of Hobart, on Sunday, March 13, and Monday, March 14, with the full program available at

The president of the event’s organising committee, Rosemary Bennett from Home Hill Wines, said the Huon Valley community was keen for the return of A Taste of the Huon.

“The event is a source of significant regional pride as it showcases so much of what the Huon Valley and Channel region has to offer,” she said.

A Taste of the Huon is a celebration of our fine food, beverages and arts and crafts sourced from the region, complemented by a splendid entertainment program which will appeal to people of all ages.”

Covid safety precautions are a significant part of the committee’s planning priorities with exhibitors being well spaced so patrons can observe current social distancing requirements.

“We will also have the necessary sanitising stations, a ‘clean-team’ ensuring surfaces and touch-points are disinfected and we will monitor mask wearing where appropriate,” Bennett said.

“All the community groups involved with A Taste of the Huon are delighted with our decision to return this year.

A Taste of the Huon not only provides an excellent vehicle for our community groups to contribute to the regional pride the event generates, it also helps to fund their own activities which further supports the local community.” 

A chance to try local wines, food, ciders and other producer in the fresh air. 

Friday 25 February 2022

Exploring the Clare Valley on foot, in style

The Clare Valley is undoubtedly one of the most scenic wine regions in Australia and a newly launched walk through the region is aimed at food and wine buffs who also enjoy an entertaining meander to work up an appetite.

The Life's An Adventure Clare walk runs over three days with guests being picked up from, and returned to the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide, two hours away.

The Clare is one of the oldest and best-known wine regions in Australia with plenty of history and some delightful cellar doors and pubs to be enjoyed.

This walk is just as much about wine and food as it is about walking.

There are two dinners, two breakfasts and three lunches featured, including two long winery lunches.

Accommodation for both nights is at Bungaree Station - a heritage-listed historic country retreat with a history that dates back to 1841.

The initial walk will be from May 27-29 with more dates to be announced, and groups will be limited to 12 people.

Highlights include lunch at the delightful Skilogalee winery, an a la carte dinner or degustation at the superbly renovated Watervale Hotel (above) and lunch at Pauletts Wines and Bush DeVine Restaurant, where the views are magnificent.

Tastings range from one-man operation Mad Bastard to bigger operations like family-owned Taylor's.

All the walks are pack-free - guests just carry a small day pack. The trails comprise largely back roads, road reserves and private property and there is a local guide on hand at all times.

the first day walk is around 10km, the second day 12-14km and the third day 10km - all easily manageable.

This link has further details and how to book:

Thursday 24 February 2022

South Korean airline giants closer to merger

Two of Asia's leading airlines have been given the go-head for a merger.

South Korea’s competition regulator this week granted conditional approval for a merger between Korean Air and smaller South Korean airline Asiana. 

The Fair Trade Commission green-lighted the move on condition the airlines relinquish some slots for routes where they have more than 50% of the market share, Travel Mole reported. 

Combined, they would operate around 48.9% of international flights from South Korea and 62% of domestic flights.

The merger will see the combined company become the 10th-largest airline in the world.

The exact number of slots and transportation rights the merged entity would have to give up will be decided later. 

Korean Air plans to form a totally integrated company with Asiana in 2024.

A chance to sample some of the best of Tasmania

Calling all wine lovers in Tasmania - and anyone who might be visiting next weekend.

Southern Tasmania’s finest vineyards are throwing open their doors for three days of touring and tasting from March 4-6.

Visitors are being encouraged to try various vintages as they tour through the Derwent Valley, Coal River Valley and Huon Valley / D'Entrecasteaux Channel wine regions, all of which are within an hour of Hobart.

The event kicks off on Friday, March 4 with several winemakers getting together for multi-producer tasting event at Glaetzer-Dixon's urban winery in downtown Hobart.

Taste wines from Quiet Mutiny, Rivulet Wines, Meadowbank, Future Perfect, Sailor Seeks Horse and Glaetzer-Dixon, while enjoying food from a taco truck.

The $30 ticket price includes a premium Plumm glass and tastings from all of the producers. Wines will also be available by the glass and winemakers will be offering special deals on mixed cases, including local delivery. Book here:

"Southern Open Vineyards Weekend, supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania, is a chance for winemakers to proudly showcase their work, but more than that, it gives our hardworking winemakers the opportunity to meet and get to know the people who enjoy their wine," says organiser Greer Carland from Quiet Mutiny.

Try the new pinot noir from tiny Resolution Vineyard, or check out the new tasting facility at Mewstone/Hughes and Hughes.

Along with wine tastings, many venues offer food, music and bespoke events. Social distancing will be in place at all participating vineyards. 

For full details on the event visit

When TV insults your intelligence and damages tourism

Fancy a few days of solitude in the remote Australian wilderness? 

Wait a minute.

You might just be murdered: perhaps by a malicious team of machine-gun wielding thugs, or maybe a group of mendacious marijuana farmers. 

I know this because I watched a TV show called Under Investigation on Channel Nine last night. 

I feel sorry for the people from Victoria's High Country Tourism, who promote this part of the world to tourists.

Here is the program formula: Take a presenter who used to be a big TV star a couple of decades ago. 

Throw in some unsolved murders. 

Add in some "experts" - a bloke who lives near where some disappearances occurred; a criminologist who has failed to solve the "crimes" previously. 

Add a bloke with a very serious face and a woman who looks like she belongs on a Keno advert.

They aim to "solve crimes and uncover new evidence".   

Instead, they rehashed a lot of old theories, threw in a few red herrings and helped trash a region's tourism appeal. 

That, basically, was Under Investigation in a nutshell.

No new suspects, precious little new insight. A lot of "High Country Hell".

An hour of commercial TV time wasted for both presenters and viewers. But lots of exposure for the alleged "experts". A bit like Married at First Sight, but less interesting. 

If you are staying away from the wilderness in north-east Victoria right now, no one can blame you. 

Homicidal lunatics, fortunately now deceased, those groups of wild men with automatic weapons firing randomly, and animals that enjoy destroying evidence. 

The Australian bush is a scary enough place without these malevolent beasts out to get you. 

It is easy to get lost and die if you don't prepare properly or suffer a medical incident, which is probably/possibly what happened to most of the missing people.

Go visit Victoria's High Country. Great wines, a range of boutique breweries. Some delightful small towns. And only a handful of maniacs wanting to chase you down and kill you.    


Wednesday 23 February 2022

How sustainable are your alcohol choices?

Australians are increasingly concerned about the environment. In March, sustainability will be celebrated with events including Clean up Australia Day, World Water Day and Earth Hour. 

Drew Doty, marketing manager of Proof Drinks Australia, says sustainability has become a core value for alcohol brands and consumers in the UK and US - and that we can expect to see a similar direction in Australia.

Recent research has shown that 48% of US alcohol drinkers say their purchasing decisions are positively influenced by a company’s sustainability or environmental initiatives. 

As the importance of long-term sustainability becomes front and centre both for brands and consumers globally, fast-growing distributor Proof Drinks says focusing on the growth of sustainable alcohol brands on our shores has been one of the key focus pillars and reasons for the company’s growth. 

“The sheer attention that sustainability gets at this time of year certainly contributes to consumers evaluating their own environmental impact from waste and plastic in particular," Doty says.

“In recent years, we have seen alcohol drinkers place more and more value on the kind of environmental impact their favourite beverage brands have on our world, and this is reflected both in brand innovation within this space, and the resulting sales for those making it a priority.

“Brands in the European and US markets are increasing focus on sustainability, and the shift is certainly happening here in Australia, too. 

"With these changing customer behaviours, Proof Drinks Australia have been championing specific international brands that reflect this heightened interest, focusing on those that are specifically minimising their footprint via the reduction of single-use materials and water wastage.”

The Proof Drinks portfolio includes Cazcabel Tequila, Silent Pool Gin, The Lost Explorer Mezcal and Wild-Arbor Cream Liqueur. 

I see a certain disconnect between the food miles involved in importing drinks from other continents into Australia, but it is certainly an interesting talk point.

Silent Pool Super Premium Gin, from the UK, for instance, has created the world’s first 100% recyclable woodland gin bottle, and has a strong focus on reducing water wastage. 

Cazcabel Tequila, meanhwhile, uses a brand new distillery purposely built around existing trees to help support the natural sourcing of ingredients and uses recycled glass bottles. 

“We can certainly expect to see a rise in sustainability as a chief value for brands both already here and for those entering the Australian alcohol market over the next few years," says Doty. 

"We’re already seeing enormous success at faster rates for brands who have a focus on environmental preservation and climate change, such as Cazcabel Tequila, which has grown 300% due to its alignment with consumer trends and commitment to sustainability. 

“With drinks producers across the world now making efforts to offset their impact on the environment, we’re seeing nuanced ways of crafting sustainable alcohol products like we’ve never seen before. 

“It is great to see that in such a saturated market, Australian brands are aligning their sustainable interests with their competitors overseas, and they are finding more creative ways to produce alcohol products whilst reducing their environmental impact for long-term survival, as this trend will only continue to grow.”

For more information on sustainable alcohol brands in Australia see

Loud and proud: a drink for Mardi Gras

Independent beer producer Brick Lane Brewing has brewed a limited-edition version of its award-winning One Love Pale Ale in time for next month's Mardi Gras celebrations.

Dandenong-based Brick Lane has partnered with BWS and Dan Murphy’s for the special brew to mark the United We Shine event.

All the profits will go to the Pride Foundation Australia, which is dedicated to building a society where all LGBTQIA+ people experience equality and inclusion.

"Brick Lane has always had community at the heart of what we do, and we are committed to a world of inclusivity and creating an environment where everyone is welcome," says CEO Paul Bowker.

"This year we wanted to do something special to celebrate Mardi Gras and support the Pride Foundation Australia.

By partnering with the teams at Dan Murphy’s and BWS on the limited-edition Loud & Proud One Love beer, we hope to spread unity, love and togetherness to even more people. We're honoured to support the important work at Pride Foundation Australia, who are at the forefront of change, as we celebrate our peers as members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community."

Loud & Proud One Love Pale Ale is billed as "a soft bodied pale ale bursting with bright hop aromas and stone fruit, passionfruit and citrus flavours".

It will will be available to purchase across the east coast at BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores and online for $18.99 a six pack and $76.99 for a case of 24.

Pride Foundation Australia provides funding for projects that address the systemic disadvantage of LGBTQIA+ communities and individuals in Australia.

It is run by volunteers specifically focused on addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, queer, intersex, asexual and other LGBTQIA+ community issues.

See and

Tuesday 22 February 2022

So you have a very special night to celebrate with 39 mates?

So you and 39 of your closest friends have a special occasion that you would like to celebrate in serious style?

How about the most indulgent hotel package in Australia for a cool $49,999 per night?

Ovolo Hotels, an award-winning boutique designer hotel collection, has just launched Grey Goose Hotel By Ovolo - a collaboration between The Inchcolm in Brisbane and Grey Goose vodka.

It is billed as being ideal for a corporate retreat, an indulgent gathering with friends or an intimate wedding.

The deal includes accommodation for 40 people, a Grey Goose martini tower and five-hour beverage package, followed by a three-course dinner crafted by chef Ian Curley or MasterChef winner Diana Chan to the sounds of a live jazz band or DJ.

“This event is the perfect marriage of luxury accommodation combined with an elevated drinking and dining experience," says Andrea Gualdi, beverage creative director for Ovolo Hotels.

Guests will also have the opportunity to experience an intimate Martini Masterclass with Grey Goose’s Australian Brand Ambassador, learn how to shuck an oyster and indulge in the world of caviar with one of the world’s best producers of caviar, Simon Johnson.

Find out more information at:

# The Ovolo Group was founded by entrepreneur Girish Jhunjhnuwala and first entered the real estate market in 2002. It expanded into the hotel industry in 2010. The group has eight hotels and seven restaurants across Australia in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.

Melbourne to get a Four Seasons hotel

Melbourne is to get Australia's second Four Seasons hotel - but patience will be required by would-be guests.

Melbourne property developer Beulah has agreed a deal to bring a Four Seasons Hotel to the Victorian state capital.

It forms part of the new A$2.7 billion development, STH BNK By Beulah.

Four Seasons Melbourne will have 210 rooms within the western tower of STH BNK By Beulah, and will see guests arrive via a Sky Lobby situated on the 63rd floor.

The Hotel will also offer an integrated health and wellness experience, a rooftop restaurant and bar, and multiple event spaces.

STH BNK By Beulah is on track to become Australia’s tallest tower and also to have the tallest vertical garden in the world, Travel Mole reports.

"We are incredibly proud to be a part of the leading-edge STH BNK By Beulah development - this project will set a new standard for luxury in Melbourne," said Bart Carnahan, president, Global Business Development and Portfolio Management, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (how does he fit all that onto his business cards?).

"We look forward to welcoming guests through our doors in the years ahead."

Guests will enjoy access to planned amenities at STH BNK By Beulah, including the gardens, art and culture spaces, coworking facilities, and more.

Four Seasons Hotel Melbourne becomes the second Four Seasons in Australia, joining the existing Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

Construction is expected to begin late 2022 and will take approximately five years to complete.

Monday 21 February 2022

Grenache for good: a worthy wine initiative

Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family owned winery, has reached the halfway mark in its goal to raise $90,000 to help combat homelessness.

Yalumba launched its Homefullness Grenache 2017 last year to raise funds toward the Forage Built Calyx pods, which were unveiled at Tasting Australia.

“We have been thrilled with the support from the community in buying, sharing and enjoying our grenache for this cause,” said Yalumba senior winemaker Sam Wigan.

“It’s the perfect wine to serve slightly chilled in the warmer months; delicious and approachable with loads of spice, cherry and raspberry.” 

A whopping 50% from each pack sold goes to Forage Built, with the aim of raising $90,000 to fund the build of at least one Forage Built Calyx – a transportable, eco-friendly space for someone to call their own, store their belongings and sleep safely.

The first Calyx pod prototype was unveiled at Tasting Australia last May. 

“We have been very conscious of the challenges that our hospitality industry has faced over the past two years, leaving employees vulnerable with little or no income. Many people are now experiencing homelessness for the first time,” said Wigan.

“We have had a long-standing relationship with Scott and Justin at Forage Supply Co., as well as a long-term partnership with the Hutt St Centre. When we heard about the Forage Built initiative, we were excited to get on board and help raise the necessary funds.”

Yalumba x Forage Built Homefullness Grenache 2017 packs of 12 bottles are available purchase from the Yalumba website and Wine Room for $120. That's just $10 a bottle.


Stop laughing at the back: Meet the Batman burger


There is no bandwagon too silly to jump on, no marketing tie-in too absurd. 

Take the release of the new Batman movie The Batman in Australian cinemas nationally from March 3.

The Grill’d burger food chain is unleashing the "limited-edition" Bruce Wayne Burger at most of its outlets from tomorrow as homage to Batman's alter ego. 

Grill'd boasts that Bruce Wayne Burger means you can "dine like a billionaire". and says: "The Bruce Wayne Burger’ is rich and sophisticated  - just like Bruce himself  - and is built with a grass-fed Australian beef pattie, brie cheese, spanish onion, Hawthorn hot sauce and double truffle mayo." 

Apparently, cue uproarious laughter, it is "perfect when you’ve got a superhero-sized appetite".

Ben Goss, Chief Marketing Officer for Grill’d says: ‘We cater to all types of tastes - billionaires included. 

"Crafting the Bruce Wayne Burger in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures was an incredible honour, both celebrating an iconic character and the biggest cinema release of 2022, The Batman

"The Bruce Wayne Burger is the most decadent burger on the menu so swoop into our restaurants before it disappears." 

Ben is really into this marketing patter. 

Should you be temped, the Bruce Wayne Burger is $15.90 but is not available at Collingwood or Darlinghurst restaurants. See

When the customer is wrong even if he is right

Remember the old adage: The customer is always right? 

I do most of my shopping nowadays in small, family-operated businesses, where nothing is too much trouble. 

Today I ventured into a massive Big W store where the opposite applies; Here the customer is wrong, even if he or she is right. 

And he or she can expect to treated with disdain, as well. 

My consumer experience went like this: I picked up up a few items and then headed for the only check-out actually manned by a human being. Big W, you see, prefers you to self check-out so it can employ fewer staff. 

On the way to the checkout I spotted a packet of crisps for $1.60 - a great deal. So I picked up a packet. 

When I was given my receipt, I thought it was a couple of dollars higher than I had expected.

I checked, and found I had been charged $4.15 for my packet of crisps, rather than the clearly advertised $1.60. 

I pointed this out to the check-in lady, expecting a reimbursement. 

But this is Big W, where "policy" is more important than politeness. 

It is, apparently, "policy" that a customer cannot be given his or her money back directly, even when the scanning system has failed.

The customer must walk to the other side of the store and then queue at a "service" desk, to get back his or her $2.65. 

The check-in lady, however, had not advised the "service" operatives of the issue, despite me showing her the price sign and her being aware of the mistake. So the "service" operatives had to make phone call (to whom I have no idea) to check out my story.

"We can't believe what every customer tells us," they said. Policy, of course.

Eventually, $2.65 was credited back to my card. 

I then sought out the store manager to let her know that their scanning system was faulty and that their customer service polices suck. 

"We are so sorry our policies caused you inconvenience today," she said, dripping in insincerity and sarcasm; clearly seeing me as an annoyance. 

If I had not had a few minutes to kill I would probably have not checked my receipt, or maybe have written the $2.65 off if I was in a hurry. 

How many customers do that, I wonder? How many $2.65s in favour of Big W?.

My wife tells me that Woolworths supermarkets give you the item for free if the wrong price is scanned. Which is both a polite way of saying "sorry" and decent customer service. 

Maybe Big W, which is owned by Woolworths, should examine both its systems and policies. Or maybe it just doesn't give a damn.        

Sunday 20 February 2022

Beer spa offers "relaxation and libation" in the one spot

If you love drinking beer and relaxing in hot tubs in the outdoors then Canada's biggest beer spa might be worth adding to your travel "to do" list.

The Muskoka Beer Spa, part of Clear Lake Brewing Co, is a two-hour drive north from Toronto. 

Opening officially on April 7, the beer spa proclaims itself as the "biggest in the world" and will feature an outdoor pool, two large hot tubs, a music stage, an ice rink during winter and four saunas.

The Muskoka Beer Spa is nestled in the woods surrounding the the Clear Lake Brewing Co. and offers "relaxation and libation" - as well as cabins with their own draught beer tap. 

Guests will be able to grab a beer from the outdoor cocktail hut or attached brewery and drink it in lounge areas or hammocks around the pools. 

The facilities will all be open to both overnight guests and day visitors. 

Accommodation includes complimentary snacks, a wet bar, beer on tap, as well as TV and wifi, along with old school VCR machines and tapes. Each cabin has queen-sized beds, a living room area and a kitchen; and fresh pastries will be delivered to your door each morning. 

There are plans to host beer and music festivals from small gatherings to big events on the eight-acre site. There will also be massage treatments available on site. 

Once open, the beer spa day rate will cost $40+ (£23+) for one day’s access, not including the price of any extra treatments.

LATAM resumes Sydney-Santiago flight schedule

 After almost two years of pausing its passenger services from Australia and New Zealand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, LATAM has announced it will resume its passenger operations between Sydney, Auckland and Santiago starting from March 29. 

LATAM will operate a Boeing 787-9 aircraft three times a week and is looking to increase the schedule to five flights weekly from July 1. 

"We are extremely excited to recommence our flights between Australia/New Zealand to South America (Chile) on 29 March," Chris Ellis, country manager- Oceania for LATAM Airlines (someone should maybe tell Chris's bosses that Oceania is not a country). 

"We are ready to give our passengers a warm welcome back on board, reconnect them with their loved ones and showcase all the beauty and wonders that South America has to offer. 

"LATAM operates the largest network in Latin America and we know that many of our passengers have been patiently waiting for flights to resume so they can tick off their bucket list destinations such as the Atacama Desert, Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu, Patagonia and many more."

Passengers must meet specific entry requirements for entering South American nations and can use this link for more information:

LATAM Airlines Group S.A. and its affiliates is the main group of airlines in Latin America with a presence in five domestic markets in the region: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, in addition to international operations inside Latin America and between it and Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean.

The group has a fleet of Boeing 767, 777, 787, Airbus A321, A320, A320neo and A319 aircraft.

Let there be light: Vivid Sydney returns

Vivid Sydney, one of the most colourful festivals in Australia, returns in 2022 with what is promised as "a fusion of creativity, innovation and technology".

To be staged over 23 nights, the winter festival will feature art displays, 3D light projections and live music performances from May 27 to June 18.

The festival will span the streets, parks, venues, and buildings of Sydney and is set to boast the longest continuous Light Walk, which will stretch continuously for 8km, linking the Sydney Opera House to Central Station with 47 installations and projections.

“After a two-year hiatus I am delighted to launch the 100-day countdown for Vivid Sydney 2022, which will be a fantastic celebration of a return to life,” said NSW state minister for tourism Stuart Ayres.

“The 2022 program will be the biggest and brightest yet, with many festival-firsts, providing even more reasons for Sydneysiders and visitors from around the country - and all over the world - to immerse themselves in our city at its creative best.

“Vivid Sydney makes a vital social and economic contribution during winter. From our creative industries to entertainment and hospitality venues, accommodation and retailers, it supports the entire ecosystem of the NSW visitor economy.”

Designed by Sydney artist Elliott Routledge, who is also featured in the 2022 festival program, the Countdown Clocks will be located outside Sydney's Queen Victoria Building at Town Hall and Gateway Plaza, Circular Quay.

A virtual version will also feature on

Festival Director Gill Minervini, who will direct her first Vivid Sydney in 2022, said this year's program captures the essence of Sydney's soul, and what makes the city so unique.

“Vivid Sydney tells the compelling story of Sydney's creativity and innovation, shared with a distinctive narrative that resonates around the world," she said

"We are innately drawn to Sydney's urban landscape as a unique canvas, bringing us together to celebrate, reflect and immerse ourselves in this charismatic, surprising and intriguing city.

“This year Vivid Sydney will deliver fresh experiences for festival-goers. We are proud to have such an impressive collection of Sydney's most prolific and world-renowned artists involved in the 2022 program. 

This includes the work of artist Ken Done, delivering the Customs House projection with For Sydney With Love; and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran's multi-limbed avatar Earth Deities, featuring animated fire and electricity.”

Vivid Sydney 2022 will energise the Sydney CBD, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Goods Line and Central Station, as well as city structures including such as Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, MCA and Customs House.

Saturday 19 February 2022

Suddenly everyone wants to fly

The sales of airline tickets around the world have soared in recent weeks as more countries open up following the the Covid-19 epidemic.

Sales of international tickets jumped to 11% above 2019 levels between January 25-February 8 2022, the fastest rise for any two-week period since the pandemic started, Travel Mole reported.

"Momentum toward normalising traffic is growing," said International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Willie Walsh.

"Vaccinated travellers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travellers the confidence to buy tickets.

"Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity."

IATA says 18 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine or prior testing, while 28 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine but with testing or other restrictions.

The airline trade group called for "a stop to the singling out of the travelling population for special measures".

It says it wants the removal of all travel curbs - including quarantine and testing for fully vaccinated passengers, which seems a little extreme.

It also advocates for quarantine-free travel for the unvaccinated with a negative test result. Which many people would disagree with.

IATA has 290 airline members in 120 nations but in addition to setting technical standards for airlines, it has also organized tariff conferences that served as a forum for price fixing. A very sore topic among frequent flyers.

A slice of cannonbear cheese with your glass of wine?

Foreign food names can make life very difficult for monolingual Anglo Saxons - and linguistically challenged gourmets around the world. 

While just about everyone can get their head around pizza and satay; Australians (and many others) find several hard-to-pronounce (and spell) words in the kitchen and on restaurant menus. 

The experts at Top10 Meal Deliveries decided to discover if there is a correlation between mispronouncing and misspelling famous foods by analysing global search trend data from Google with help from Ahrefs.

Out of all the most commonly mispronounced foods, gnocchi (nyoh-key) is the most misspelled with 295,800 searches a month for gnocci (170,000), gnochi (118,000) and gnochhi (7,800).

Bruschetta (bru-sketta) is another commonly mispronounced food, along with kombucha, daiquiri, prosciutto, macaron, and camembert, which, believe it or not, is frequently searched for as cannonbear.

I also remember being offered some horse rubbish (horseradish) with a steak dish in Asia.

Italian foods are clearly the toughest to spell, while tzatziki, chipotle and phở all missed out on making the list. 

But at least Australians can pronounce Worcestershire sauce; a feat which is beyond most Americans.  

A link to the original data can be found here.

Friday 18 February 2022

Back to the future for Barossa wine legend Burge

Grant Burge and Ian Wilson, two young guns in their 20s, created the Krondorf wine brand in 1978. 
Just two years later the Krondorf Cabernet Sauvignon 1979 won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. Krondorf was established as a worthy  brand
Now, over four decades on, Burge is once more the owner of the Barossa winery, having sold his stake to Mildara Blass in 1986. 
It was an emotional purchase for the wine industry veteran. He and his wife Helen (above) live just 50 metres from the winery. 
It marks the third time in its history that Krondorf Winery has found itself in the Burge family’s hands. 
He re-purchased from Mildara Blass in 1999 and then sold to multinational Accolade Wines from whom he this week purchased the facility. 
“It’s a very special homecoming,” says Burge. 
“I have effectively bought back a significant part of my past, having first acquired Krondorf Winery– which, to add to the poignancy, sits alongside our family home in the Barossa – as a 27-year-old. 
"Now, at the age of 70, I’m looking forward to both the person and the wine ageing well.” 

The purchase will allow Burge Barossa – an integrated wine and tourism services company – to produce and bottle some 178,000 dozen bottles of white wine per annum for its growing contractor base, more than doubling previous output of 60,000 dozen and establishing the winery as a medium-size player in the region.


It further sees Burge Barossa invest some $1 million in a new, soon-to-be-constructed bottling plant and warehouse. 

The sale of Krondorf Winery follows Accolade’s decision some 12 months ago to close the site. 

Burge Barossa, with family roots in the region dating back more than a century-and-a-half, is privately owned by Grant and Helen Burge. 

The company also operates bed and breakfast properties Tanunda Cottages and Wilsford House. 

A world of confusion when it comes to wine branding


Do you know your shiraz from your syrah; your zinfandel from your primitivo; your malbec from your côt; your rolle from your vermentino, your chenin blanc from your steen?

It sometimes seems as if the wine industry tries its best to confuse consumers with the use of different names for the same grape varieties.

Just because someone enjoys a glass of mataro doesn't mean they will also opt for bottle of mourvedre. They might not even know they are different names for the same grape.

This chain of thought comes about after I enjoyed a very impressive 2021 Nebbiolo Bianco from the Adelaide Hills made by Hesketh Wines. It was delightfully crisp and fresh, and good value for $24.

Not knowing anything about Nebbiolo Bianco I did some research and found it is better known as arneis - Holm Oak in northern Tasmania make a very fine example.

For centuries the arneis grape was used to soften nebbiolo grape harshness in the wines of the Barolo region, and it became known as nebbiolo bianco.  

The Australian wine industry revels in this style of chaos.

Australia, for instance, is the only major wine producer to make shiraz. In France, the US, South Africa and around the globe, the grape is generally known as syrah.

No one knows for certain why the name was changed. But it helped brand Australian offerings as a noteworthy style.

In Australia wines are generally labelled shiraz if they are big, alcoholic and often oaky. Winemakers use "syrah" to indicate their wines are more stylish and subdued. 

But does the consumer understand the distinction, or do Joe Public from Moonee Ponds and Jane Spratt from Bumcrack, Iowa, actually think they are two different varieties.

It is understandable that grape varieties may have different names in different countries. Thus trebbiano in Italy is ugni blanc in southern France. And albarino in Spain can be alvarinho in Portugal.

Thus we have pinot gris in Alsace, pinot grigio in Italy and grauburgunder in German-speaking nations. All the same grape, just made in different styles. 

We have petit syrah, or sometimes durif. 

But in Australia do we really need to use mataro, mourvedre and monastrell for the same grape?

If you really want to be confused and bemused, check out this document:

Thursday 17 February 2022

Roads less travelled: There is more to England than London

There is more to England than tourist hot spots like London, Stonehenge and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Many visitors to England don't get as far as the Lake District, Dartmoor and other country regions; let alone visiting cities like Liverpool, York or Norwich.

And that is equally true of domestic tourists, who rarely venture off their well-beaten paths.

VisitEngland has this week launched a new Escape the Everyday campaign, hoping to encourage more short-breaks stays in English cities this northern spring and early summer.

The Enjoy an English city break this spring campaign is putting the spotlight on the destinations, visitor attractions and experiences on offer across England’s cities, to build back demand for domestic breaks.

The campaign also aims to support cities, city attractions and regional gateways, hit hard by the lack of international visitors.

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: "Our cities have attractions, tours and experiences to suit all interests.

"Businesses are eager to see visitors and we want everyone to get involved, book a short-break to our cities and kick-start the tourism season."

Cities involved in the campaign include Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich (the River Wensum is pictured top), Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield and York.

The campaign will run across the partners’ digital channels, including Instagram and Facebook, with city-focused content ranging from short films and articles to interactive city guides, city ‘show reels’ and city story quizzes.

City-inspired content is also running across VisitEngland’s digital channels highlighting sustainability, connecting with loved ones and looking ahead to 2022 events.

A dedicated Escape the Everyday hub on is also featuring ideas, experiences and activities on what to see and do across England’s cities.

Dress to impress; a cocktail collection that's very fashionable

If you have a date you want to impress with your style, sophistication and over-sized wallet then head for Sofitel Melbourne on Collins o sample a "Coco Chanel-inspired" cocktail menu that features a $400 drink that comes with its own own miniature custom couture cocktail jacket. 

The extravagant line-up is on offer from today until April 26 at the hotel's signature bar, The Atrium, located on level 35 (the views from the toilets are also pretty swish). 

Alongside the bar's hero $400 drink, guests will also be able to enjoy other cocktail options from $30.

The limited-edition star of the show, Classique Sensation (above), features Richard Hennessy Paradis Cognac with French aperitifs, a Champagne liqueur - Marc de Champagne - with 24k gold leaf and adorned wearing its own miniature custom couture cocktail jacket, made from material sourced from the same tweed houses used by the Chanel design house.

Other menu highlights include the Little Black Dress ($120), which showcases Taittinger Nocturne Champagne, Chateau du Tariquet Blanche Armagnac, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, house-made black cocoa syrup, egg white and edible camellia sugar flower. The glass is also dressed in its own couture black dress.

Le Mélange Unique (above) blends French whisky and liqueurs like Michel Couvreur “The Unique” with Australian botanicals and aperitifs like Autonomy Distillers Davo Plum Bitters - and at $32 it is a far more affordable option. 

For bookings, visit

So you would like to taste a 100-year-old wine?


Seppeltsfield, one of the most famous names in the Australian wine industry, is today celebrating the unveiling of the new release of one of Australia’s most significant wines: the 1922 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny.

Seppeltsfield was established in the Barossa in 1851 by the Seppelt family and is one of the oldest wineries in Australia.

The new release coincides with the Seppelt family having moved into the homestead on February 20, 1851.

This will be the 45th consecutive 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny to be released from the 1878 Centennial Cellar – and cellar door visited are invited to sample the historic fortified; for a price. 

Chief winemaker Fiona Donald describes the 1922 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny as having "great intensity harnessed by citrusy acid and notes of sun dried stone fruit – nutty, spicy, with terrific length. A more savoury expression with focused lift and intensity of spicy walnut liqueur – woody, toasty, some herbal notes, too”.

The 1922 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny has limited availability in a 100ml format - hand filled to order, individually numbered and authenticated for collection purposes. It is presented in a Jarrah timber gift box with a certificate that can be personalised.

Available from Seppeltsfield cellar door or via with shipping possible worldwide.

The special fortified wine can also be tasted at the Seppeltsfield cellar door. 

The 100ml package costs $1,500, while a 10ml tasting at cellar door costs $90. 

Wednesday 16 February 2022

French toast a record year for wine and spirit sales

French wine and spirits exports hit a new record high in value in 2021, the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS) said. 

Sales were boosted by the lifting of US tariffs and by the start of an economic recovery after the pandemic 

Overseas sales of wine and spirits - France’s second-biggest export after the aerospace sector - reached 15.5 billion in 2021, up 28% on 2020 and 11% above 2019, FEVS reported. 

“The growth in value is almost three times the rate of growth in volume, showing the increasing added value of wine and spirits exports,” FEVS President Cesar Giron said.

Wine shipments to the US, France’s largest export market in value, jumped 34% last year to 4.1 billion, Reuters reported. 

The bad news is that French wine exports this year and next could be hurt by lower volumes after spring frosts hit vineyards, Giron said.

The Beaujolais region harvested only half of its average volume while Bordeaux fell by a quarter. 

Image: Emanuele Lattarulo,

It's over: cruise company officially out of business

Cash-strapped Crystal Cruises has officially shut down its operations. 

A Florida court approved Michael Moecker & Associates to act for the cruise line under an assignment for the benefit of creditors (ABC) filing. 

This specialist company now has control of what's left of Crystal's non-ship assets, its accounts and records and will be collecting creditors' claims for payment. 

This includes the claims of passengers, travel advisors, vendors, shoreside employees and crew.

Crystal said all 238 employees at its Miami base have been laid off. 

"We are taking the action because we will be undertaking an assignment for the benefit of creditors, or seeking similar relief," Crystal said in a letter to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Interim president and CEO Jack Anderson said: "This was an extremely difficult decision but a prudent one given the current business environment and recent developments with our parent company, Genting Hong Kong."

Two Crystal ships were seized earlier this month in the Bahamas over $US4.6 million in unpaid fuel bills.

The US Federal Maritime Commission is advising customers to make a claim with their credit card issuer, or via their insurer, to speed up processing.

Anderson estimated over $US100 million is being held by Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Crystal Cruises was headquartered in Miami after being founded in 1988 by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha. 

It had been owned since 2015 by Hong Kong-based Genting Hong Kong, which subsequently encountered financial difficulties. 

Both brands have now ceased all operations. V.Ships Leisure has been appointed to manage Crystal's fleet of ships.