Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Orange Wine Region comes to Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

Sydneysiders and visiting travelers will have the rare opportunity to experience Australia's iconic Orange Food & Wine region this May, when Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Brand Orange brings the country to the coast.

Following 2014's hugely successful month of events, the aptly named 'We Heart Orange' kicks off on May 1 and promises an array of palate pleasing and mouth watering produce and fine wines to satisfy even the finickiest of foodies.

Friday 1st May will introduce a curated menu of selected Orange Wines accompanying the hotels existing and extensive menu of beverages. Visitors to the hotel can experience dynamic flavours and variations from wineries including Logan Wines, Phillip Shaw, Ross Hill Wines, Heifer Station, Hedberg Hill, Cargo Road Wines, Rowlee Wines, Gilbert by Simon Gilbert, Colmar Estate and Bantry Grove, Angullong, Faisan Estate, Orange Mountain wines, Patina Wines, Roaring Fork Wine Co, Small Acres Cyder, Tamburlaine Wines, Highland Heritage, Brangayne and Boree Lane Wines.

For those looking to finesse their wine tasting know-how, master classes will be held on Thursday 14th and Thursday 28th May 2015 from 6.30pm on the hotel's top deck.

Saving participants the 260 kilometer trip to Orange from Sydney, senses will drift away while remaining seated and enjoying picturesque views across Sydney Harbour. A limited number of tickets can be purchased from the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel website for $40 per person.

Orange Wine Master Classes, each Thursday in May
The pinnacle of the celebrations will occur over Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May when the inaugural Taste Orange Food and Wine Festival returns to Robertson Park; dressed with the charm of the delightful Orange region. Adventurous gastronomes and families will discover some of Australia's finest grapes, special food offerings from country gourmet producers and Watsons Bay locals. Pre-package tickets for the festival are available online, $30 per person which offers10 coupons at $3 each and a tasting free glass.

A special accommodation package has been created from $209, which includes one night stay in Watsons King Room, a welcome bottle of Orange Wine on arrival and a complimentary wine class on Thursday 14th or 28th May.

We Heart Orange will conclude in grand style on Friday May 29th 2015 when hatted restaurant, Racine Restaurant pops-up as Racine by the Bay for one night only. Over two sittings held in the hotel's hamptons-esque Sunset Room, guests who purchase tickets are set to enjoy a bespoke menu of Orange's finest designed by award winning and acclaimed Executive Chef, Shaun Arantz.

For more information on the program of events visit

About Brand Orange:

Food and Wine has been the story for the Orange Region for many years and is entwined with many other industries. Brand Orange Ltd has been at the marketing helm of this region since 2007 and continually strives to grow the desire to visit, live and invest in the Orange Region of NSW, Australia.

Located in the Central Ranges of NSW about 3 ½ hours from Sydney, Orange has four distinct seasons and is located at the foot of an old extinct volcano, Mt Canobolas, which makes for a fertile environment suitable for growing a large range of produce. The surrounding region is well known for an abundance of high quality produce and in more recent times a burgeoning wine industry. The region is now home to over 40 cellar doors. In addition, Orange has become well known for its events such Orange F.O.O.D Festival and Orange Wine Festival.

The region is rich in local history, a flourishing cultural scene, fruitful landscapes, historical buildings, art and culture and some of the best food, restaurants and wine in Australia.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Barossa Vintage Festival - Barossa Comes Home

Australia's original wine tourism event, the Barossa Vintage Festival is almost upon us. But this is much more than a wine festival, it's a celebration of all things Barossa.

Whether you want to try some of the sumptious Shiraz, try your hand at grape treading or perhaps peruse the markets for some spectacular hand-made produce, the Barossa Comes Home event will be the perfect taste of the festival you are looking for.

It's the end of vintage: the grapes are crushed, the Harvest is done and among the 750 grape growing families of the Barossa Valley, it's time to get together and celebrate. Or if you've been away, it's your very own Welcome Home Party – and a rich celebration of all things Barossan.

Set on the Tanunda Oval, Barossa Comes Home is an open-house picnic, where locals invite the rest of the world in to taste the fruits of their toils and the loves of their labour. And in 2015, there's a lot!

Special features include grape treading, a market bazaar, children's entertainment (including a bouncy castle and merry-go-round), the Bund der Bayern German Dance Club and other local brass bands, and over 30 wineries from the region – all available for your tasting pleasure.

As for food, strictly Barossa-only food producers will be on show, including ShuAm Pork, Hutton Vale Lamb, Barossa Valley Cheese and lots more including vegetarian options.

Entry for the event is $15 per adult, with children under 18 years free. Included in your entry will be the outdoor tasting glass (plastic GoVino, valued at $5) and 5 x wine tasting tickets, each valued at $2. Further tasting tickets can be purchased or people can buy by the glass or bottle direct from the wineries.

A special note, there is NO BYO alcohol or glass into the oval.

For more information on the Barossa Vintage Festival visit

Far Ago Hill Pinot Gris - Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc


David Ellis

PERFECT with shellfish or
pepper-sprinkled Tasmanian salmon,
from NSW Southern Highlands and
good enough for the Governor's table.
ON week days you'll find Katrina Hill running a busy interior design and colour consultancy in Sydney, but come weekends she ditches high fashion for jeans, a tractor, bobcat or slasher and becomes vigneron on her Far Ago Hill vineyard at Canyonleigh, in the Southern Highlands half-way between Sydney and Canberra.

And that latter role rewards her with a ripper Pinot Gris – a variety for which the Southern Highlands is earning a fast-growing reputation – and whose story began in 2003 after Katrina and then-husband, Ricardo Farago had toured Europe tasting as many Pinot Gris as they could, and coming home to search for the ideal site from which to produce their own that would be equal to the best they'd tasted in Europe.

It was at Canyonleigh they found their perfect combination of soil, climate and the elements, and now Katrina tends it at weekends under advice from consultant Ben Brazenor, and with her wine made by Chris Carpenter at Lark Hill in Bungendore.

Since 2011 Katrina's Pinot Gris' been labelled Far Ago Hill, a play on ex-husband Ricardo's surname Farago and her own maiden name Hill; a current-release 2014 is a great drop of delicate aromatics, lemon-citrus and apple flavours and with a crisp, dry finish – perfect at $30 with seafood, it was served at former NSW State Governor Dame Marie Bashir's Farewell, and at the 2014 Archibald Prize presentations…

FROM one of the best-ever white wine vintages ever,
match this one with mildly spiced Asian dishes.
To purchase or for more details: Katrina on 1300 769 217 or

ONE TO NOTE: VOYAGER Estate in Western Australia's Margaret River has released a 2014 Chenin Blanc whose soft tropical fruit flavours, fresh acidity and a suggestion of sweetness you'll find an ideal match with mildly spiced Asian dishes or fresh seafoods.

2014 gave Voyager Estate one of its best white wine vintages ever, with fruit that Manager of Winemaking and Viticulture, Steve James says was "absolutely outstanding," and which came off three separate vineyards including one whose Chenin Blanc was part of the company's first plantings of the variety in 1978.

An early-drinking style, this is a beautiful $20 drop to buy now and enjoy now.

for week beginning 13 April 2015

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Would you swap wine for sex?

Well, half of you said 'yes'
Some might say sex AND wine were the perfect combination
​IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a survey by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has found that after a long day in the office or while travelling, the majority of people would prefer a glass of good wine to most other things – including even hopping into bed with their partner.

The survey that was conducted in the US, Germany, China, Argentina and China found nearly half of those asked – an amazing 48 per cent – said they'd make the wine option #1 as a means of unwinding.

As well, 29 per cent said they'd give up their smartphone for a day in return for a top wine at the end of a busy day, 23 per cent their social media account for a week, and while travelling 23 per cent would give up use of their hotel's spa for that glass of wine. Another 12 per cent said the gym.

And possibly most surprising of all, 23 per cent would give up sex with their partner for a week, in exchange for a glass of premium wine after a long day.

The hotel group undertook the survey as part of its premium wine program, Sheraton Social Hour, that takes a regular look into global traveller guests' wine drinking habits, taste preferences, spending and social influences.

Read full survey here

Monday, 6 April 2015

Tim Adams The Fergus - Shottesbrooke Sauvignon Blanc

David Ellis
enjoy with Confit of Duck.

ITS close to twenty years – nineteen in fact – since Tim Adams and wife Pam Goldsack made their first Tim Adams Fergus, a Grenache-based blend they named after neighbour Fergus Mahon who sold them some Grenache back in 1993 during a desperate shortage in the Clare Valley of Shiraz and Cabernet fruit.
Since that pioneering drop of 85% Grenache and 15% Cabernet in those desperate times, The Fergus has comprised Grenache with various other reds, the latest being the 2012 that's 35% Grenache from the Mahon's Fergus Vineyard, 35% Tempranillo from Tim's Ladera Vineyard, and 30% from his Sheoak Vineyard at Watervale.

The result's a wonderfully mouth-filling wine with Grenache spiciness to the fore, nice plum and red berry flavours, gentle tannins and beautiful floral aromas, all combining to achieve Tim's aim of a corner-stone drop reflecting commitment to quality and traditional Clare Valley wine styles.

Remarkably it's just $24, and if you can resist the temptation to get into it now (with, we'd suggest, Confit of Duck) it'll reward beautifully over the next decade or more.
A WINNER with seafood, or chilled
on its own as guests arrive.

ONE TO NOTE: ABOUNDING tropical fruit flavours and a wonderfully crisp acidity are highlights of an Estate Series 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from boutique Shottesbrooke Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills.

Winemaker Hamish Maguire also used fruit from McLaren Vale in this lip-smacker drop that's got everything in it from those tropical fruits to a grassiness, suggestions of lemon citrus and a refreshing mouth-feel.

Sauvignon Blanc and seafood go hand-in-hand so make your choice from the seafood counter as to what to enjoy it with best, or equally offer it chilled on its own as guests arrive for that seafood lunch or dinner.

Nicely priced at $20.

for week beginning 06 April 2015

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Hunter Valley Magazine Issue 4, 2015


Hunter Valley Magazine showcases the best food, wine and other experiences in Australia's top food and wine region.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Indulge your senses at Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month

If you can picture yourself sitting by the fire with a glass of wine or indulging in a feast at a gourmet restaurant, Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month should be on your to-do list. This much-anticipated annual event showcases the region’s diverse wine and food culture with a month-long series of themed activities throughout June.

It’s a food and wine extravaganza that is the perfect antidote to those winter blues and your chance to wine and dine with leading Hunter Valley winemakers and chefs, take part in an array of fun and interactive classes to fine-tune your culinary skills, or just curl up beside an open fire with a glass of premium Hunter Valley wine and a cheese plate.

The historic Hunter Valley wine region is home to more than 150 wineries and, being just two hours’ drive north of Sydney, is the ideal short break destination. During the month-long celebration in June there will be a variety of accommodation and event packages throughout wine country, so come and indulge in the simple pleasures of Hunter Valley life!

Here’s a quick sampler of some of the packages and activities on offer throughout the month of June:

Chef’s Plate Lunches
Chef’s Plate Lunches offer foodies the chance to enjoy a set price lunch at some of the Hunter Valley’s best restaurants. For just $39, diners can enjoy a main meal and a glass of Hunter Valley wine, and at some restaurants, something sweet to follow.

The Winemaker’s Table Series
The ultimate Hunter Valley food and wine experience. This series of intimate lunches and dinners is hosted by a leading Hunter Valley winemaker. They will select a range of their favourite wines that will be paired by a Hunter chef, who will come and talk you through their food match.

Pure Wine Indulgence
For the aspiring ‘wine master’ or those who just want to know more: Learn more about your favourite wine variety, the different characteristics the vineyard can produce, and the essential steps in the winemaking process.

The Edible Experience
For those who love a good food adventure, this is where the journey begins! Meet leading producers and chefs as they show off their skills and dish up creative gourmet fare matched with wines - highlighting the Hunter Valley’s fresh regional produce.

Class Is In
For those who want to explore their inner foodie & top up their skills in a hands-on Masterclass. This has been one of the most popular series in past years, with a variety of educational food experiences on offer. You can learn how cheese is made, what to look for in a quality olive oil, how to match cheese & wine; meet the makers & go home with new recipes & tips to impress your friends in the kitchen.

Winter Warmers
A series of comforting, indulgent experiences set by an open fire in our guest houses, cellar doors and restaurants, and the perfect way to relax on a cool winter’s day. Enjoy a fireside afternoon tea, warming winter soup and wine and more.

A full calendar of events is available online at
Like us on Facebook @HunterValleyWineCountry and Follow us on Twitter @huntervalleywc

Organised by The Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association, the 2015 Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month is proudly supported by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, through the Regional Flagship Events Program.

For more information and details on how to book tickets and accommodation visit

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