Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard

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

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Take public transport anywhere in the country for €9 a month

Be quick.

Until the end of this month visitors to Germany can pay a one-off €9 ($13) fee and travel anywhere in the country by public transport.

One fee. Unlimited trips.

And Germany’s €9 a month rail passes have proved so successful the government is under pressure to extend the scheme it introduced in June but finishes at the end of August.

The heavily subsidised pass grants all German residents and visitors unlimited travel on regional transport.

The pass entitles the user to travel on buses, U-Bahns, S-Bahns, trams and local and regional trains for one calendar month but does not include high--speed long-distance trains like the IC or ICE.

The current pass has led to a drop in congestion on roads in 23 out of 26 cities examined as part of a preliminary analysis by traffic data specialist Tomtom for the German Press Agency last month.

Around 21 million of the €9 tickets were sold in June alone, Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) figures showed. That’s on top of the roughly 10 million subscribers who automatically received the discounted ticket.

Film festival gets a little added Italian fizz

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore, the Italian wine brand will be the official Gold Partner of the 2022 St Ali Italian Film Festival taking place nationally from September 13-October 16.

One of the largest celebrations of Italian cinema outside of Italy, the film festival will present Italian blockbusters and classics on the big screen. 

Throughout the festival partnership, Santa Margherita will pay homage to the first Prosecco Superiore made in 1952 by Santa Margherita in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (where I happened to visit last month). 

Cinemagoers attending opening nights across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will experience a pop-up bar experience from Santa Margherita. 

"The 70th anniversary of the Prosecco Superiore is a momentous occasion for Santa Margherita," said brand ambassador Erika Gallon. "We can’t wait to transport cinema goers to the world of Italy and experience the la dolce vita way of life.”

Which may just be gilding the lily a little bit. 

2022 dates and locations

Sydney September 13 - October 12: Palace Norton | Palace Verona | Chauvel Cinemas | Palace Central

Canberra September 14 - October 12: Palace Electric

Melbourne September 15 - October 12: Palace Balwyn | Palace Brighton Bay | Palace Cinema Como | Palace Westgarth | The Kino | The Astor | Pentridge Cinemas | Cinema Nova

Adelaide September 21 - October 16: Palace Nova Eastend | Palace Nova Prospect

Perth September 22 - October 16: Luna Leederville | Luna on SX | Windsor Cinema | Palace Raine Square

Brisbane: September 21 - October 16: Palace James St | Palace Barracks

Byron Bay: September 23 - October 9: Palace Byron Bay


Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore is available at Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores nationally with an RRP of $20.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

The key area in which Tasmania is sadly second rate

It is time, as comedian Shaun Micallef would say, for some "plain speakin". 

Tasmania is gobsmackingly gorgeous, a destination that draws in visitors from around the world for its natural beauty, great food and wine and delightful accommodation. 

Unfortunately, however, while Tasmania has a "world class" tourism industry, it has a main airport that is embarrassingly second rate. 

Hobart Airport has spent much of the past decade as a building site as work has been done on its terminal, its car parks and its access roads. 

But it remains a bit of a joke because it has never had the foresight to install air bridges (also known as jet bridges). 

In one of the coldest cities in Australia, passengers have to walk to and from their planes across the tarmac. Often in biting winds and sleet. When it rains in Hobart passengers get soaking wet boarding or disembarking. 

First impressions etc. 

This week, Hobart Airport unveiled a 20-year draft (I said draft, not daft) "masterplan" to expand the airport's capacity - with construction due to start over the next two to four years. 

Only one problem. While $60 million has been budgeted to expand the airport's runway, there is no cash to build to a few air bridges, which apparently cost around $1 million each. 

This in a state where they want to spend upwards of $750 million for a new stadium that would host around a dozen AFL games each year. 

The rationale, according to airport chief executive Norris Carter, is that air bridges would be "too expensive" and would add to the cost of air tickets in the long run. 

I call bulldust. Four air bridges would cost $4 million. Throw in a couple more million for a small second-storey extension, if needed, and some escalators. 

I would have thought $6 million was a fair price to pay for a proper facility for the gateway for most tourists coming in and out of the state. 

Yes, those very people who waited up to 90 minutes in the freezing cold when the airport couldn't get its procedures right during Covid testing.

If $6 million extra is beyond the state's "majority Liberal-National Government" then maybe some initiative could be shown. 

How about a one-off lottery with a million-dollar first prize with the aim of raising the funds needed? It worked for the Sydney Opera House. 

Or how about finding a sponsor willing to tip in a major sum in exchange for having their brand name plastered all over the air bridges? Not even considered, apparently. 

This for an airport that will handle an estimated 5.5 million passengers a year in 25 years time. 

Currently, Hobart handles around 2.8 million passengers a year. A $1 per passenger levy over three years would pay for the air bridges and building extension. Too hard, apparently. 

Norris Carter and Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania CEO Luke Martin are in lockstep that "an air bridge would lead to steeper fares, as well as flight delays". 

Yep. Those pesky air bridges at Heathrow, Atlanta, Sydney and other major airports around the world are such a failure. Even Pyongyang Airport in North Korea has air bridges. 

Carter says the the plans to upgrade the airport will cost in "the hundreds of millions of dollars". But no one has the nous to include a few "expensive" air bridges. 

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad and lacking in foresight.                 


Friday, 12 August 2022

How to celebrate World Rum Day in your lounge room

From Bundaberg to Phuket, rum is very much in vogue. 

If you are ready for a virtual rum journey, premium Venezuelan rum distiller Diplomático has partnered with Australia’s first dedicated digital bar to launch the limited-edition Exclusiva Exclusive. 

This is a custom cocktail kit that champions the signature Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva, with all the mixers, garnishes, and dark spirit knowledge you might need to celebrate this National Rum Day (August 16). 

Box Bar is the first dedicated digital bar to come from the founders of Sydney-based venue The Fox Hole. 

The limited-edition cocktail kit features Reserva Exclusiva and all the trimmings you need to coktail in your own home.   

“The Diplomático range, though Reserva Exclusiva specifically, has the unique ability to bring more life and a touch of sweetness to classic rum cocktails." says says Sai Hamsala, the Diplomático brand ambassador.

"Partnering with Box Bar means we’re able to share this experience with Australian consumers on a larger scale."

Alongside the Diplomático samples and a cocktail recipe guide, anyone to place an order via Box Bar and have the Exclusiva Exclusive delivered to their door, will be granted access to a rum masterclass hosted by Hamsala, and James Harvey-Fiander, Chief Experience Officer (such a wanky title) at Box Bar. 

“The way we connect with other people and enjoy a drink has changed forever - hence the birth of Box Bar," says Harvey-Fiander . 

"We think you ought to be able to try new and interesting drinks no matter your location or situation."

The limited-edition Exclusiva Exclusive from Diplomático is available for purchase now. Head to $65. 

New Zealand targeting wealthy tourists

New Zealand is more into rugby union than soccer but its tourism minister scored a spectacular own goal this week when he said the Kiwi tourism industry is more interested in wealthy tourists than those on a budget.

Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash said ‘discerning tourists’ are the goal and not ‘shoestring’ travellers.


In a message obviously designed for a domestic industry audience but now being spread across the world, he added: “In terms of targeting our marketing spin, it is unashamedly going to be at these high-quality tourists.”

No open arms welcome for "low-quality" tourists then?

Nash was speaking at the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand annual conference.

New Zealand media reported that Nash said his vision was for New Zealand to be one of the top three aspirational destinations for the “world’s most discerning travellers".

So nothing snobby there. But...

”We are going to welcome backpackers ... [but] we are not going to target the people who put on Facebook how they can travel around our country on $10 a day eating two-minute noodles.”

While New Zealand is well known for luxury lodges like Kauri Cliffs (above), surely there is also a welcome mat for noodle eaters? 

Thursday, 11 August 2022

When in Canada, take the train

My disenchantment with the incompetent buffoons at Air Canada is well recorded - but there is another transport company in Canada that offers a very good service.

VIA Rail offers fastish, clean and on-time rail services between most of the major cities - and is a boon when your destination is somewhere midway between Montreal and Toronto.

I took trips from Montreal to Kingston and Kingston and Toronto recently and both delivered an excellent experience - albeit not cheap. And I avoided spending more time in the chaos of Montreal's Trudeau Airport and Toronto's almost equally frenetic Pearson Airport.  

Given Australia's dismal inter-city train offerings, going by rail might not be upmost in mind at home, but it is certainly well worth considering for trips in Canada.

If you are planning a visit it is worth getting on the VIA Rail mailing list in advance for offers like 20% discounts for bookings made on a Tuesday.

Via Rail operates over 500 trains per week across eight Canadian provinces and 12,500 kilometres of track, and is largely owned by other railway companies, including Canadian National Rail (CN).

There are a range of fares on offer including discounted escape fares, economy, business and touring, sleeper plus and prestige on long-distance trains.

Food service is available on most trains with snacks, light meals and beverages for purchase. Most of the services also offer complimentary wifi, although it is spotty in my experience. Staff - with a lot of seniors employed - are uniformly chatty and helpful. 

The majority of trains operate in the Ontario and Quebec service corridor between Quebec City and south-western Ontario.

On my list of things to do: the Maple Leaf operates between New York City and Toronto via Albany, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It is jointly managed by VIA Rail and Amtrak.

Starting in this year, VIA Rail has begun deployment of a new generation of trains on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.

For details visit but be aware the website doesn't like processing Australian credit cards.



Wine trails are 10 a penny, but how about a cannabis trail?


Cannabis is all the rage right now. 

Visit Thailand and you can buy cannabis-infused drinks by the beach, or buy your spliff supply from a local version of a food truck. 

In Canada, you just pop into your local cannabis store to pick up a joint or two, or maybe some gummies.

In Australia, of course, you'll find police with sniffer dogs at railway stations trying to smell out someone with a marijuana cigarette on their person. But we are a little bit behind the times. 

In Oakland, California, they recently launched their own cannabis trail - which is being actively by the Visit Oakland tourism folks. 

Oakland has been at the forefront of cannabis education and compassionate patient access for decades. 

"California and especially the Bay Area is known for having the best cannabis in the world," says the retailers at Cookies Oakland. 

With the city facing economic issues, by the 1990s city leaders were open to exploring uncharted avenues for downtown revitalisation. 

The potential for much-needed commerce spurred a new perspective on cannabis regulation and taxation, long before other cities across the country followed suit. 

For two decades, Oakland has been a cannabis policy leader at the state and federal level. 

Several spots are officially recognized as Cultural Landmarks along The Cannabis Trail

In the Oaksterdam Uptown District, Blunts and Moore (above), and Harborside are historic markers of the short but busy history of cannabis in Oakland. 

Harborside is a pioneer of mainstream cannabis wellness and normalisation. It is here that the very first legal sale of recreational cannabis in California happened in 2016. 

Dotted throughout each diverse Oakland neighbourhoods are various cannabis shops featuring local product brands such as Fig Farms and Dark Heart Nursery.

From the canna-curious to canna-sseur, there is, apparently, something for everyone - and there is an official trail map featuring shops, places to chill out and recommended eateries. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: While cannabis is legal to purchase from licensed retailers in California, it is still illegal to consume cannabis in public. See Oakland Cannabis Trail


Air New Zealand warned on passenger rights

Air New Zealand is the latest airline to cut back on its schedules in a bid to combat cancelled and delayed flights and long waiting times at airports.

Air NZ said it will reduce the number of seats available on its flights by 1.5% - but its plans caused a warning from the national consumer rights organisation, Consumer NZ.

"Air New Zealand has announced today it will be operating a reduced schedule, meaning flight changes are in the pipeline for many passengers already booked to fly," Consumer NZ said in a statement.

"However, we are concerned Air New Zealand’s announcement omits important information about passengers’ rights."

The airline said: “If your domestic flight has changed and you have not been given a flight on the same day, then you will be able to request a change online under ‘Manage my booking’, opt into credit or request a refund.

"If your international flight has changed and you have not been given a flight on the same day or on a day either side of your original booking, then you will be able to request a change online under ‘Manage my booking’, opt into credit or request a refund.”

Under the Civil Aviation Act, however, if an airline cancels or delays a domestic flight for reasons within its control, passengers are entitled to reimbursement of up to 10 times the cost of the ticket or the actual cost of delay - whichever is lower.

"So, if Air NZ cancels or delays your domestic flight, in addition to getting your flight refunded, you may also be able to claim other expenses, such as meals and accommodation, and any additional costs you incur in getting to your destination." said Consumer NZ. 

"Similar rules apply for international flights, but vary depending on where you are, where you’re heading and where the airline is based."

Air NZ said that most customers to be hit by flight changes will be automatically transferred to another flight on the same day for domestic travel, while for international bookings, customers may see departure times move to another day either side of their original date.

“Where customers cannot be accommodated within these time frames, they may change their booking online, opt into credit or request a refund,” the airline said.

Air NZ Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said the decision to trim volumes would ultimately make its services more reliable as it rebuilds capacity following the pandemic.

“Like many airlines around the world, we’ve been ramping up our operation at a time when Covid and the flu continue to impact the aviation industry,” Foran said.

Foran also suggested Air NZ may lease a crewed wide-body aircraft for the busy summer period.

Consumer NZ is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to getting New Zealanders a fairer deal.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Air fares and hotel room rates set to soar again

Travellers can prepare for more pain over the next 18 months with airfares predicted top rise by 8.4% in 2023, hotel room rates by 8.4% and car rental charges by 6.8%.

This is on top of a predicted full-year 2022 increase in airfares of 48.5%, hotel rates of 18.5%, and car rental charges of 7.3%.

These are the figures provided by the 2023 Global Business Travel Forecast, published today by CWT, the B2B4E travel management platform, and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Rising fuel prices, labour shortages, and inflationary pressures in raw material costs are the primary drivers of the expected price growth, says the report.

"Demand for business travel and meetings is back with a vengeance, of that there is absolutely no doubt," said Patrick Andersen, CWT's Chief Executive Officer.

"Labour shortages across the travel and hospitality industry, rising raw material prices, and greater awareness for responsible travel are all having an impact on services, but predicted pricing is, on the whole, on par with 2019."

Cautionary notes also highlighted in the 2023 Global Business Travel Forecast highlight the main forces exerting pressure on the economy and the business travel industry.

These include Russia's invasion of Ukraine coupled with other geopolitical uncertainties, inflationary pressures that are pushing costs higher, and the risk of further Covid outbreaks that could restrict business travel.

Business travel airfares fell over 12% in 2020 from 2019 followed by an additional 26% decline in 2021. Economy ticket prices fell over 24% from 2019 to 2021, while premium tickets fell 33%.

Prices are expected to rise 48.5% in 2022, but even with this steep price increase, prices are expected to remain below pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

Rising demand and continued price rises on jet fuel are putting upward pressure on ticket prices.

For more detailed information, including geographic breakdowns and greater in-depth insights into trends and analysis, you can see the report online here, where you can also download a PDF version of the 35-page report.

Image: Hanny Hsian,

Get your grimace on: useful tips for solo travellers

Travelling is not much fun right now - and solo women travellers have been warned that travelling alone can also be dangerous if they are not careful.

With this in mind, The Knowledge Academy has offered up some tips to stay safe while travelling alone this summer. In my opinion, most of them apply to anyone travelling.

Their key tips:

1. Carry your accommodation address with you at all times

It’s best to be prepared for any uncertainties that may arise while travelling alone. Many rely on their phone for important information nowadays, but what if your phone dies when you are exploring and your accommodation details are on it? Bring a card that provides details of and directions to your accommodation so you can return safely. This is particularly helpful in countries where your language isn’t commonly spoken.

2. Share your location with loved ones 

By sharing your GPS location with loved ones whilst you are away, they can easily keep track of your whereabouts to ensure you are safe. You can set this up via platforms such as Google Maps or Facebook Messenger.

3. Fake your travel status

It is very important to make sure nobody you meet while travelling knows that you are alone. Whenever you meet someone new, pretend that you are meeting up with a friend in a few hours or that you have someone staying with you. A useful tip is to buy a pair of men’s shoes and leave them outside of your door, especially if staying in rented accommodation - this tricks people into thinking that there will be someone with you at all times and may help prevent unwelcome overtures.

4. Perfect that grimace!

Being too polite and friendly to strangers can make you more of a target for pickpockets and other criminals. Instead, practice looking ‘mean’. This should deter people from taking your kindness as a weakness. It is also important to try and blend in as much as possible with locals. Struggling to find your way around? Try to keep calm and don’t highlight that you are lost.

5. Spend extra money on staying safe

Spending a little more than expected to guarantee safety is very important. For example, if it costs more to fly to your chosen destination during the day rather than at night, pay it. Consider investing in a transfer that will drop you off at your accommodation too, rather than in the centre of the city.

All sound advice, except, perhaps, the "mean" look.


Image: Rosshelen

A beery special way to celebrate Father's Day

Calling Melbourne beer lovers, or anyone looking for the opportunity to treat someone special on Father's Day on September 4.

Collingwood craft brewery Molly Rose will be hosting a German-themed Father’s Day event with pretzels, steins of beer and (hopefully) good company.

With free entry to the family- and dog-friendly event, bookings are recommended.

And for those who can’t make it to Collingwood on Father’s Day, Molly Rose has a new Cornerstone cooler bag pack that comes with eight of Molly Rose’s favourite brews.

The cooler bag pack can be purchased here.

Molly Rose head brewer and owner Nic Sandery and his team will be serving up a selection of German goodies including traditional bratwursts with sauerkraut and pickles, salty hand-made pretzels and steins of Molly Rose’s German Helles Lager #3.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Get ready for some new hotel brands Down Under

Get ready to consider staying in a Jo&Joe, a Tribe or a Hyde if you are planning a New Zealand hotel option.

Ennismore, a fast-growing lifestyle hospitality company, has unveiled continued expansion across New Zealand and Australia, with the signing of four new hotels in New Zealand with CP Group.

The partnership will see the opening of four new hotels including a Joe&Joe in Auckland, two Tribe hotels in Auckland, and a Hyde in Queenstown across 2023-24.

Ennismore’s portfolio in the Pacific region already includes Tribe Perth and SO/ Auckland, as well as SO/ Melbourne, Mondrian Gold Coast and 25hours Sydney (above), all set to open between 2023-25.

Gaurav Bhushan, co-CEO of Ennismore, says: “This is a major milestone in Ennismore’s journey to bring our globally recognised lifestyle brands to key cities in New Zealand.

"We want to be the leading lifestyle hotel player in the Pacific region and we see it as an opportunity to bring our fresh and exciting brands, which are rooted in culture and purpose, to visiting guests and neighbourhood locals.

“Globally, the lifestyle segment is bouncing back from the impacts of the pandemic quicker than traditional hotels, driven mostly by strong F&B demand.

"This is generating robust interest and has a strong growth trajectory as we strengthen our position in this segment, with concepts that integrate the notion of entertainment and feature restaurants and bars.

"We are excited to be introducing our lifestyle brands into New Zealand, and the combined expertise of Ennismore, Accor and CP Group will deliver unforgettable experiences.”

Ennismore was formed in 2021 in a joint venture with between Sharan Pasricha, founder and co-CEO, and the global Accor group.

The Ennismore brands - with a clear fondness for quirky names - includes 21c Museum Hotel, 25hours Hotels, Delano, Gleneagles, Hyde, Jo&Joe, Mama Shelter, Mondrian, Morgans Originals, SLS, SO/, The Hoxton, Tribe and Working From_.

Newcastle to gain a hip new venue

Newcastle's transformation continues with the imminent reopening of the Lucky Hotel in the city's East End.

Not only does the hotel have a new fit-out, it will also have Gordon Ramsay-trained chef Stephen Scott manning the pans.

The Lucky Hotel, once known as The Oxford, is now operated by Sydney pub group Tilley and Wills, who also runs the Greenwood in North Sydney, The Buena in Mosman, the Paddington Arts Factory, Richmond Inn and Cabana Bar.

The launch party will be held on September 8 and the big reveal is embargoed until then, but I did manage to source one image (above).

Exposed bricks will pay homage to the Lucky's past - the hotel dates back to 1880 - while new concrete structures will lead to what is promised to be "one of the best beer gardens in the country" with a three-storey atrium and living green wall.

The revitalisation has been curated by interior designer Sandy Grice, who has worked for Merivale, QT and Pullman Resorts.

“We wanted our guests - whether repeat visitors or new - to feel familiar with the venue but also provide a lot of surprises," says general manager Drew Parsons.

"We took a lot of influence from photographer Slim Aarons to the Racquet Club from 1930’s Palm Springs. There is something new behind every door, a lot to look at and a lot of fun."

Acquired by Sydney businessman Martin Scott in early 2022, The Lucky will have a gourmet focus.

“We seek out the best pubs in great locations and basically do a number on them," says Tilley & Wills CEO Nick Wills.

"We add our touch which means great food, excellent drinks lists, and hire the best people in the business. This site gave us the perfect foray into creating Sydney-style pub hospitality in regional NSW’s largest city.”

Chef Scott spent several years in London working under Gordon Ramsay where he started as sous chef at The Warrington in Maida Vale, progressing through the ranks to Claridge’s then into Maze Grill in Mayfair.

Scott returned to Australia in 2016 to head up Matt Kemp’s new kitchen at the Charring Cross Hotel before moving across to the Matt Moran stable as head chef at The Paddington Inn.

“I was attracted by the vision of the team and new owners wanting to move beyond standard pub grub and offer something more akin to our contemporary capital city and international gastro-pubs," he says.

"We have some of the best produce in the country on our doorstep and we intend on showcasing it."

Wills adds: “It seems like in the blink of an eye this part of the city of Newcastle has just been totally transformed, it’s bustling with cool restaurants, bars, cafes, delis, hip hotels." 

The accommodation comprises 30 guest suites with courtyard or city views, all with updated en-suite bathrooms.

The hotel will be open seven days a week with the kitchen and garden courtyard open for lunch and dinner.


Image: A sneak peek through the curtains from a room looking into the courtyard. David Griffen Photography. 

Monday, 8 August 2022

French drinks export boom led by Cognac and Champagne

The world cannot get enough of French wines and spirits with exports up 14% over the first six months of 2022.

Between January and June 2022, France shipped €9 billion of wines and spirits around the world, said Olivier Becht, minister delegate in charge of foreign trade.

The record sales exceeded the pre-Covid crisis level of exports (€7 billion in 2019).

Saying that “wines and spirits are at the heart of national agri-food exports”, Becht reported sales had been boosted by Cognac (€2 billion, +9% in value) and Champagne (€2 billion, +32% in value and +14% in volume).

The leading destination for French wines and spirits remains the United States, accounting for 28% of sector exports (€2.5 billion), with a strong presence of Cognac (40% of shipments) and Champagnes (16%), Vitisphere reported.

Having recently spoken with his US counterpart, Katherine Tai, over trade differences between the two nations, Becht said: “the state of mind has completely changed between the Trump and Biden administrations."

Image: Marco Simola,

Aussie winemaker takes over Canadian business

Australian winemaker Ben Bryant, once of Jacobs Creek and St Hugo, has purchased one of Canada's best boutique wineries.

Mudgee-born Bryant and his partner Katie Truscott, have taken control of taken over 1 Mill Road in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

The producer was operated by Cynthia and David Enns, and focuses primarily on pinot noir.

Before moving to the Okanagan Valley in 2018, Bryant was chief winemaker in Australia for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, in charge of labels including Jacobs Creek and St Hugo.

He moved to Canada to join Mission Hill but now seeks to create a collection of wines from farm to bottle.

His partner, Katie Truscott, is originally from the Okanagan but spent a decade working in South Africa.

"It’s official!! Katie and I have taken over the reigns of one of Canada's most coveted, niche, pinot-focused wineries, 1 Mill Road Winery," Bryant told his Instagram followers.

"From the moment we met, we shared a goal to contribute to this exciting wine region and produce our own wines that expressed place and time. Now it's all happening and we couldn't be more excited to carry 1 Mill Road into its next chapter.

"Our focus will be on pinot noir and chardonnay and we will be making our wines in the exciting village of Naramata, BC. Huge thanks to David and Cynthia Enns for allowing us this opportunity to carry on their brand."

“Our intention is to produce wines that share a distinct story of place and potential. We believe in the future of the Okanagan Valley, a budding and exciting wine region with nothing but potential.”

For details see

Sunday, 7 August 2022

New hotel boosts capital city rooms by 10%

Ljubljana is one of Europe's most attractive and easily visited capital cities but it suffers from a lack of hotel rooms given its growing popularity. 

Very few of the international chains have opened in Ljubljana, which is puzzling. 

The Grand Plaza (top), a new five-star hotel and congress centre has just opened its doors, boosting the number of hotel rooms in the city by 10%.

It offers 354 rooms and 10 conference halls that can accommodate up to a thousand participants.

The new Grand Plaza Hotel and Congress Centre is the largest hotel in the capital.

The 81-metre-high tower block offers rooms are of various types and sizes.

In addition to standard services, the hotel also offers a fitness center, a swimming pool, private parking, a bar and a garden.

The new hotel is only the third in Ljubljana next to the InterContinental Hotel, which is its immediate neighbour, and the Zlata Ladjica boutique hotel.

We tried out the more modest, but rather delightful boutique Hotel Mrak (above) on our recent trip to Ljubljana.

It is a family-owned hotel set in a brilliant location in the old town of Ljubljana - just short stroll to the river.

Think small but charming rooms (just 34 in all) - and very helpful staff.

Hotel Mrak is the only hotel in the Ljubljana old centre that is accessible by car.


Hotel sells for a record price

So you fancy owning a five-star hotel in Sydney?

You'd better have very deep pockets.

The Hilton Hotel (above) in the Sydney CBD was this week sold to a major Asian private equity firm for $530 million – the largest single-asset transaction on record in the Australian hospitality sector, Hotel Management magazine reported.

Baring Private Equity Asia’s (BPEA) announced on Thursday that its affiliated real estate funds, BPEA Real Estate, had acquired the 587-room Hilton Sydney at 488 George Street.

BPEA Real Estate, Head of Australia, Paul Gately, described it as a ‘great opportunity’ and expressed his confidence in the local real estate market.

“We are excited to be a part of the next chapter of one of the most famous hotels in Australia,” Gately said.

“The Sydney Hilton is an iconic hotel, well-known to business and leisure travellers alike, while its restaurants, bars, and conference facilities have played host to Sydney locals for years.

“Quality assets in prime locations like the Sydney Hilton are tightly held and don’t become available often, so it’s a great opportunity for the BPEA Real Estate team. We have a strong conviction about the long-term outlook for Australian real estate and are excited about the potential of finding similar opportunities across a variety of sectors.”

The Hilton - built in 1974 - includes award-winning food and beverage venues, events and conferencing facilities and luxury retail outlets.

The company intends to make significant investment in the hotel with plans to upgrade and expand guest rooms, food and beverage outlets and front and back of house operations.

Malaysia throws open its doors to tourists

Malaysia has this week ended all remaining Covid-19 entry restrictions for foreign arrivals.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed all Covid entry requirements have been scrapped, allowing both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists to enter the Asian nation.

Unvaxxed travellers were previously required to follow strict testing requirements, while vaccinated travellers had to show proof of vaccination in the MySejahtera app.

“However, vaccination requirements are still subject to any airline’s regulations,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

"The Traveller’s Pass no longer needs to be filled in, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Upon arrival, if a traveller is detected with a fever through the thermal scanners or found to be unwell through self-referral by the traveller, they will be referred for re-examination by medical authorities.”

Masks are still required indoors and on public transport in Malaysia, Travel Mole reported.

Image: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur. Kate Bagoy on 

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Why Prosecco is a sparkling gourmet travel destination

It was a lazy summer afternoon as we strolled the sleepy streets of Conegliano.

We were admiring the old buildings and contemplating a glass of the local sparkling wine when the voice of an angel wafted from behind one of the facades by the Duomo di Conegliano, the ancient cathedral.

That voice belonged to leading tenor Francesco Grollo, who has sung for the Pope, and alongside Andrea Bocelli.

We were invited in to enjoy his rehearsal for an upcoming concert. 

So generous. 

And typical of the surprises that can be found when exploring the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG region of the Veneto, where the finest wines of the Prosecco region are to be found.

A fountain here; a courtyard there; a country restaurant, perhaps. Or the stupendous vineyard views on the Prosecco Road trail, which winds its way past some of the most expensive vines in the world.

The hills of Prosecco across Conegliano and Valdobbiadene were named as a UNESCO World 
Heritage site in 2019 and offer a combination of wine, food, art, history, and spectacular scenery.

Conegliano, our first base on a recent trip hosted by Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano 
Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, is a small town in the province of Treviso, less than an hour from the tourism magnet of Venice. 

The remains of a 10th-century castle are situated on a hill that dominates the town.

The Prosecco Road consists of 90km of winding roads, spectacular hills, and vineyards at a range of extreme angles.

The Strada del Prosecco was set up in 1966, the first recognised Wine Route in Italy, and the author was pictured hard at work (below). 

We stayed at the extremely comfortable older-style Canon d’Oro hotel in the heart of the town, within walking distance of several good restaurants.

Our other accommodation was at Relais Le Betulle, a country hotel overlooking the vines and olive groves.

There is a lovely swimming pool – but the staff left plenty to be desired. Unfortunate given the delightful rural setting.

Two recommended places to stay for gourmets:

Our Rustica: A beautiful rustic retreat and hands-on cooking school run by Anglo-Italian couple Ruth
and Andrea (below), an Italian chef who stepped out of city life for the charms of the country. The duo has a passion for living off the land and going back to nature – and their rural idyll offers the perfect introduction to La Dolce Vita.

The couple has rebuilt and refurbed a run down, uninhabitable, overgrown, yet beautiful house in
the Valdobbiadene area that started with no roof, running water, or electricity.

Five years ago, they opened OurRustica B&B and Cookery School, a delightful setting in which to
relax, laugh, cook, eat, drink Prosecco and be nurtured.

Bespoke cookery courses for couples and small groups, run from as little as a half day to a full week.

Relais Ca Milone: a charming country house B&B and restaurant with its own helicopter pad for anyone wanting to enjoy the region from the air with the associated Sky Wine Motion business.

In the centre of a 10-hectare wine estate this green oasis has a large garden with ancient trees and its own swimming pool.

There are superb views overlooking the valley towards Venice or towards the towering Dolomites.

Several room styles are available, along with a separate fully equipped holiday home.

Among the outstanding places to eat we discovered were Osteria Collalbrigo (also with superb views), Villa Sandi’s excellent rustic hideaway Locanda Sandi - perfect for long leisurely lunches - Restaurant Seda and, right in the centre of Conegliano, Salisà.

The Antica Osteria di Via Brandolini is another perfect lunch choice; eat al fresco in the garden, or 
alternatively visit one of the artisan cheese or salumi producers to pick up some picnic ingredients.

Wineries we visited included tiny artisan Mongarda, medium-sized L’Antica Quercia, as well as fourth-generation La Tordera and the grand Villa Sandi, two of the region’s big guns well set up for tourists from around the world.

Grape growing has been widespread in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene zone since ancient times. A memorial stone in the area recalls the words of a Roman centurion, mentioning the vendemmiales,
celebrations on the occasion of the grape harvest.

In 1876, Conegliano’s School of Winemaking was founded, the first of its kind in Italy and over the
past couple of decades Prosecco has enjoyed a global boom in popularity, sending the glera grape
from obscurity to acclaim.

The holiday options here are unlimited with both Venice and the Dolomites within a short drive. Or
perhaps enjoy the Tarzo Valley cycle routes, or simply tour around the many vineyards and small

# The writer flew with Emirates, which serves Australia with 42 flights per week, including twice daily A380 services to Sydney and Melbourne and one daily A380 service to Brisbane. They are also servicing Perth once a day, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. Recently, the airline announced the introduction of premium economy on the airline’s A380 services from Sydney starting this month.

# Hotel Canon d’Oro:

# For details on the wines of Prosecco DOCG:

Images: Arcangelo Piai/Winsor Dobbin 

# This is a version of a story that first appeared in Ciao Magazine 

When a tourism slogan makes no sense

It might have seemed clever at the time, but a new tourism slogan really does not make any sense.

IHG Hotels and Resorts has rolled out a new global marketing campaign, Guest How You Guest.

Officially launched in the US and UK this week, and globally later this year (maybe), the multimillion-dollar Guest How You Guest campaign apparently shows how guests can define their own journey at IHG hotels.

Claire Bennett, global chief customer officer for IHG, said: “When you look around, it’s hard not to notice that travellers are increasingly left to fend for themselves, and that’s simply not what being a guest should feel like.

"The campaign sends the message that you don’t always have to do everything. We’re here to take care of all of you.”

Which is fine and dandy (IHG have some excellent hotel properties), but I still don't understand the slogan.

The new campaign will be supported by the most extensive media campaign investment from IHG, Travel Mole reports.

Guest How You Guest campaigns will showcase a personalised stay at an IHG hotel.

The IHG brands include InterContinental, Kimpton, Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Voco, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

Images and videos will appear online, in TV ads, magazines, billboards, murals and subway stations.

Armando Flores, the executive creative director for Grey New York, said: “At IHG Hotels & Resorts, you are not just staying somewhere, you’re actually being looked after and able to guest in whatever way that works for you - and that’s the story we are telling with this campaign.”

To guest. That's an impressive new way of mangling the English language.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Legendary palate acknowledged

Wine industry veteran Andrew Caillard MW was today named a "Legend of the Vine" at the Sydney Royal Wine Show trophy winners lunch.

Caillard was honoured for his years of contribution to the Australian wine industry as a writer, judge, consultant, winemaker and film maker, among his many roles.

He said he was “honoured and humbled” by the recognition.

Caillard has worked to building the industry as an auctioneer, commentator and international advocate for Australian wine.

WCA executive officer Andrew Stark said of the announcement: “WCA is delighted to be able to honour Andrew’s many contributions to the wine industry. We all know his work with Langton’s, with the Penfolds Rewards of Patience program, his contributions to the industry as a judge, writer, and advocate.

"He was also the driving force behind the Red Obsession and Blind Ambition movies, and has provided countless hours of unheralded work assisting wineries improve their businesses.”

Caillard is a Roseworthy graduate, as well as the winner of the prestigious Madame Bollinger Medal for excellence in wine tasting in the course of graduating as a Master of Wine.

He founded Langton’s Sydney and continues to be involved in the business. He stays involved with his auctioneering past by running the Barossa auction events, as well as continuing to write, commentate and promote wines.

He is the 10th person to be awarded Legend of the Vine status in NSW, and joins a list that includes Sandra Przibilla, Lyndey Milan, Huon Hooke, Clive Hartley, Iain Riggs, Rob Hirst and David Lowe.

Why it is your patriotic duty to hit your local pub

Today is the perfect day to enjoy a quiet brew or two.

Australian beer drinkers are being encouraged to raise a glass today to recognise their favourite drop on International Beer Day.

Beer is an Australian success story with 85% of beers sold in Australia using hops grown here, made here and consumed here, generating $16 billion every year for the Australian economy.

In a typical year brewers would purchase around $500 million of agricultural products and directly support 3,000 farm jobs.

The new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has said that “Australia must be a country that makes things,” says John Preston, CEO of the Brewers Association of Australia. 

"We believe there is no finer example of this than the brewing sector.

"It’s been a challenging time for the Australian brewing and hospitality sectors. Australian beer is the key product for most pubs round the country and our hospitality sector is still rebuilding after the pandemic.

"And as cost of living pressures hit the hip pocket the fact that the beer tax has just gone up by the biggest amount in over 30 years means its more difficult for people to head out and enjoy a beer at their local.

“International Beer Day is a great day to get down to your local for a meal with the family or a beer with your mates and celebrate this wonderful industry.

“Celebrating Australian beer is also about celebrating our farmers who produce the barley and hops that make our beer so special and our hospitality sector which does so much to bring us together."

Image: Claire Crayford,

Seafood festival back on the menu

So you love your seafood? But want to go beyond flake and chips?

Whelks, sea urchins and abalone will be among the highlights of the Wild Harvest Seafood Festival, which is returning to Mallacoota on November 11, 12 and 13.

The inaugural Wild Harvest festival in 2019 was a big hit that enhanced the small Gippsland town's reputation as one of Victoria's best off-the-beaten-path destinations.

After Covid-19 caused the cancellation of the festival in 2020 and 2021, the Mallacoota community says it is ready to welcome back visitors and showcase some of Australia's freshest seafood, local produce, beer and wine and other delights of the Wilderness Coast.

The three-day festival is a celebration of Mallacoota's long history and connection to the ocean and its oysters, mussels and other seafood morsels.

At the heart of the event is the free open-air Wild Harvest Seafood Market, as well as dinners and tasting events.

How about Sailor's Grave urchin-infused beer, which debuted at Wild Harvest 2019 and will make a return for the 2022 festival?

More events and attractions will be announced in the coming weeks.

To stay up-to-date with the latest info about Wild Harvest, including early-bird ticket releases, visit

Thursday, 4 August 2022

A brand new look for Oxford Landing

Oxford Landing is, in my opinion, one of Australia's most reliable "value" wine brands.

The Oxford Landing collection has been in the Australian market for three decades and represents some of the best of South Australia's Riverland.

The collection was recently re-launched with a new "visual identity" (that means new labels, folks) that has modernised the brand. The new label represents Oxford Landing’s home on the banks of the Murray River with the logo depicting the sun over the water.

The current range includes: Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Oxford Landing Chardonnay 2022, Oxford Landing Pinot Grigio 2021, Oxford Landing Merlot 2021, Oxford Landing Shiraz 2019 and the Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz 2021.

Established in 1990, Oxford Landing has a long-term sustainability record. 

The brand has moved to a lighter weight 420-gram glass bottle and 100% recyclable cartons to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.

“Our commitment to sustainability is one of the things that makes us stand out from the rest,” said Oxford Landing senior brand manager Carolyn Macleod.

“All Oxford Landing wines are vegan, sustainably produced and bottled at our winery in South Australia, which is accredited with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.” 

The wines are all dstributed through Samuel Smith & Son and have an RRP of $13.00.

An Italian option for Chablis lovers

It was a delightful summer afternoon in Verona's Piazza Brà.

The many cafes and bars were buzzing as the adjacent Roman amphitheatre was being prepared for an opera performance.

This being the Veneto, we should be sipping on a glass of Soave, or perhaps a Valpolicella or Bardolino.

Our sommelier has other ideas; "definitely a glass of Lugana" he advises.

I'm a lover of Chablis, Sancerre, South African chenin blanc and Hunter semillon, but Lugana has so far escaped my radar. 

It's crisp, aromatic, citrusy, dry and refreshing, is best served chilled and has some nice textural characters.

It comes from a region near Lake Garda that is partially in the Veneto and partially in Lombardy. And its is bloody delicious. I have a new vinous friend.

Lugana, it turns out, is a popular Italian DOC white wine domestically that has not been exported much.

The production area goes from the southern coast of Lake Garda to the morainic hills, halfway between the province of Verona and the province of Brescia.

It is delicate and fragrant on the nose, rich in minerality on the palate (hence the similarity to Chablis and the whites of the Macon).

The Lugana Denominazione di Origine Controllata produces both a table wine and a sparkling wine.

The wines are made from what is locally called turbiana, or Trebbiano di Lugana, and it is a very close relative of verdicchio.

British wine bible Decanter recently devoted a multi-page article to the wines of Lugana in its May edition.

Some of the top names in Italian wine have bought land and vineyards in the area, so we can, perhaps, expect to see more Lugana down the track.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Pooley grabs winery of the year honours

Family-owned and -operated Pooley Wines from Tasmania's Coal River Valley were last night named winey of the year at the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Awards in Melbourne. 

Regular readers of GOTR will be very familiar with the wines made by the Pooley family. 

This year’s major awards-represented regions include Margaret River, Tasmania, Yarra Valley, Great Western, and Adelaide Hills, with the varietal winners spanning five states: South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

This year’s results are a wonderful testimony to the tremendous diversity of Australian wine at the top of its game," said editor Tyson Stelzer. 

"Our winners hail from the who’s who of large estates in famous regions and from small boutiques in remote outposts. It’s exciting to see unexpected places and estates stepping forward with wines that have topped their classes."

The awards mark the release of the wine-enthusiast’s bible, the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, available in stores nationally from today. 

Winery of the Year – Pooley Wines, Tasmania

Winemaker of the Year – Glenn Goodall, Xanadu Wines, Margaret River, WA

Viticulturist of the Year – Tom Carson, Serrat, Yarra Valley, VIC

Best New Winery – Living Roots, Adelaide Hills, SA

Dark Horse Winery – L.A.S. Vino, Margaret River, WA

Best Value Winery – Deep Woods Estate, Margaret River, WA

Wine of the Year – Best’s Wines Foudre Ferment Riesling 2021, Great Western 


Sparkling White of the Year – Gilbert Family Wines Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay 2016 Orange 

Sparkling Red of the Year – Teusner MC Sparkling Shiraz 2017 Barossa Valley 

Sparkling Rosé of the Year – Pipers Brook Vineyard Kreglinger Brut Rosé 2017 Tasmania 

Rosé of the Year – Spinifex Luxe 2021 Barossa 

Sauvignon Blanc of the Year – Flowstone Wines Queen of the Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Margaret River

Other Whites (and Blends) of the Year – Briar Ridge Vineyard Albariño 2021 Hunter Valley 

Semillon of the Year – Brokenwood Sunshine Vineyard Semillon 2014 Hunter Valley 

Riesling of the Year (two winners) – Henschke Julius Riesling 2021 Eden Valley & Best’s Wines Foudre Ferment Riesling 2021, Great Western 

Chardonnay of the Year – Stella Bella Wines Luminosa Chardonnay 2020 Margaret River

Pinot Noir of the Year – Lowestoft La Maison Pinot Noir 2020 Tasmania 

Grenache (and Blends) of the Year – Chalk Hill Alpha Crucis Old Vine Grenache 2020 McLaren Vale 

Other Reds (and Blends) of the Year – Koomilya Cabernet Touriga 2018 McLaren Vale 

Shiraz of the Year – Battles Wine Granitis Shiraz 2020 Perth Hills 

Cabernet Shiraz of the Year – Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard The Peake Cabernet Shiraz 2020 McLaren Vale

Cabernet Sauvignon of the Year – Bleasdale Vineyards The Iron Duke Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Langhorne Creek

Cabernet Sauvignon (and Family) of the Year – Mount Mary Quintet 2020 Yarra Valley 

Sweet Wine of the Year – Brown Brothers Patricia Noble Riesling 2019 Victoria 

Fortified Wine of the Year – Seppeltsfield 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny 1922 Barossa 

More than 8000 wines were tasted for the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, from over 1100 wineries (including over 50 new wineries).

The 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, published by Hardie Grant Books, is now available nationwide at an RRP of $39.95.

Booze war hots up in Tasmania

Coles have ignited a booze war in Tasmania with the opening of the state's first Liquorland store in suburban Hobart.

The first new Coles supermarket in 12 years has opened at Glebe Hill Village Centre in Howrah, and features a Liquorland outlet that promises to showcase more than 320 Tasmanian-made beverages from 60 local producers.

The supermarket booze trade has been dominated in Tasmania by BWS and Dan Murphy's - both owned by Woolworths,

Liquourland says it will offer "a range of the Apple Isle’s best craft beers, cool-climate wines and boutique spirits that will deliver a national platform for the state’s beverage producers through the chain’s 750 store network.

The Liquorland Glebe Hill Village store features a selection of Tasmanian beverages as well as Liquorland’s exclusive Tasmanian brands including Beyond the Wilderness wines and the Pure Origin vodka and gin.

Coles Liquor chief executive Darren Blackhurst said: “Our drive to be a simpler, more accessible, and locally relevant drinks specialist can be seen with the launch of this store and the celebration of the Tasmanian brands we have in store for our customers.

“Local sourcing is a key focus and we are proud to partner with over 60 local suppliers and producers to showcase Tasmania further."

Tasmanian products will be easy to find at Coles Glebe Hill Village - all brands will be indicated by the Brand Tasmania trademark.

A sweet deal for lovers of sticky wines

Calling lovers of serious sweet wines. 

De Bortoli Wines are celebrating the 40th year of  Australian wine icon Noble One Botrytis Semillon with an exclusive Limited Edition release. 

The 40th Anniversary Limited Edition comes with a vintage wine from each of the last four decades, showcasing the potential longevity of Noble One.

Only 40 Limited Editions were curated and autographed by Darren de Bortoli, who first pioneered the production of Noble One in 1982.

De Bortoli believed that conditions in the Riverina region were ideal for sweet white wine, and crafted Australia's benchmark "sticky".

The long warm days interspersed with showers of rain and heavy morning dews during autumn, are ideal conditions for botrytis cinerea mould (known as Noble Rot) that produces intensely flavoured sweet wines. 

Noble One has been awarded over 182 trophies and 505 gold medals, with every vintage winning multiple awards.

The Noble One 40th Anniversary Limited Edition includes the 1984, 1993, 2004 and 2018 vintages, 

The collections are available exclusively available at the De Bortoli online shop for $2000 per Limited Edition.


Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Wine range doing its bit for homeless dogs

Calling all dog lovers who enjoy an affordable red wine.

Sit Stay Society Wines has just launched its new range - the Big Dogs - with.50c from every bottle purchased going to animal welfare organisation PetRescue.

The range includes: Sigurd’s Shiraz 2021 (Langhorne Creek), Teddy’s Tempranillo 2021 (Adelaide Hills) and Chester’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (Langhorne Creek). 

The elegant and very varietal cabernet is the star of the show - and excellent midweek drinking. The bigger shiraz will also have fans for its bucaneering style. 

Following the initial launch of Sit Stay Society's half bottle wine range in 2020, the new 750ml formats are designed for those with a more compelling thirst.

Sit Stay Society donates from every bottle purchased to PetRescue. To date, Sit Stay Society has raised more than $200,000 for PetRescue.

PetRescue’s data over the last two years highlights that dogs of bigger breeds take 58% longer than small dogs to find a new home once they arrive in shelters or foster care.

The new range emphasises the importance of supporting organisations like PetRescue to educate and engage pet seekers about the joys of bringing a big dog home as a family pet.

“PetRescue has grown to be an immensely helpful tool for connecting shelters and rescue organisations with people looking to adopt a pet," says Vickie Davy, PetRescue founder and director.

"The support of Sit Stay Society Wines ensures we can continue to invest in technology that gets pets into homes faster.

“Big dogs currently spend longer in shelters than smaller dogs, which is a difficult environment for a pet to be in. We are excited to extend our partnership with Sit Stay Society Wines and to encourage people to consider adopting big dogs!”

The Sit Stay Society Big Dog range will be available in store and online at Dan Murphy’s (RRP $15.99). See