Tag Archives: wine

10 top wineries to go to in Tasmania

Originally published as ’10 Tasmanian wineries with a great drop and worth a stop’ in Australian Traveller.

Even in the height of summer, the wineries and the route itself were not too busy. In fact, I was the only one at almost all of the wineries, although a lot of them were setting up for weddings.

Many of these wineries charge a $5 tasting fee that is refundable if you make a purchase. You don’t need to worry about getting the bottles you buy home as most places will ship (for a fee) even if you include bottles from other establishments.

1. Puddleduck Vineyard
My number-one pick for friendliness, Puddleduck has a quirky gift shop, selling every duck item you can think of, a huge dam that serves as a duck pond and lots of ducks, of course. They have an annual fundraising duck race in March and the Reverse BYO picnic, where you bring the food and the wine is supplied.
2. Frogmore Creek
Frogmore Creek produces four labels: Frogmore Creek, Meadowbank, Stormy Bay and 42 Degrees South. I came here eight years ago for a wedding and the winery is just as lovely as I remember it. There is an interesting wooden floor upstairs that tells the story of wine including smelling pots for different varieties. It has sweeping water views in the vines and you can have a relaxing beverage on the outdoor deck.
3. Pooley Wines
Pooley is a slickly marketed establishment. The cellar door is located next to the family private residence, a beautiful sandstone farmhouse. The authentic old sandstone stable serves as the cellar door.
 

4. Derwent Estate
The old falling-down farmhouse at Derwent Estate has a beautiful view of the Derwent River from its back verandah. They serve cider, made the wine makers’ way, and to have fossils on the estate grounds.

5. Stefano Lubiana Wines
This establishment is very popular with the locals and when you step inside you can understand why. It features a fireplace, Italian food and sparkling wines. I even had to line up for a tasting. They have a famous dog featured in the Wine Dogs book series.

6. Nandroya Wines
Nandroya’s cellar door is simple and to the point, only making pinot noir and sauvignon blanc cool climate wines. They have a back-to-basics cellar door with a view of the mountains.

7. Home Hill Wines
This winery was recommended to me by a local and I was glad that I made the stop. Home Hill has a new large flash cellar door with fountains at the entrance. They have alpacas and the feeling of being right in the heart of the Huon Valley.

8. Panorama Vineyard
The view at Panorama lives up to the name at this vineyard. They have picnic and BBQ facilities and the view overlooking Huon River.

9. Hartzview Vineyard
Found off the beaten track and in a forest, Hartzview Vineyard is known for its ports, fortified wines and liqueurs. The tasting room has custom-made stained glass windows and old ceramic port bottles. There is a Heritage Pickers Huts self-guided discovery walk and the toy box that keeps toddlers amused.

10. Gasworks Cellar Door
If you don’t have time to get out of Hobart and visit some wineries, come here. You can try all different varieties of wines from all over Tasmania at Gasworks. Purchase up to 12 tastings of all different sizes, but be careful – I accidentally got 3 x 100ml glasses, a lot of wine to drink after a full weekend of wine tasting.

Related posts: 8 top wineries to go to in the Margaret River10 top wineries to go to in the Mornington Peninsula10 top wineries to go to in the Barossa10 top wineries to go to in the Hunter ValleyIt’s a winery thing, 10 things to do in the Gold Coast, 10 things to do in Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, 10 things I have learnt from travelling

8 top wineries to go to in the Margaret River

Margaret River is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful wine regions in Australia. Unfortunately, its location makes it not a convenient weekender for east-coast dwellers and a few more days are required to make the most of it.

A trip to the Margaret River can be incorporated with a visit to Perth, down the coast to Cape Leeuwin- the southernmost tip of Australia or other areas of Western Australia, such as Bunbury.

Unfortunately my time in the Margaret River was too short to give you a list of 10 top wineries, so here are my most memorable top 8 wineries in the Margaret River:

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  1. Voyager Estate

I fell in love with this estate through its wine dogs and then when I went there, with it’s beautiful white washed structures and gardens. The white wines are heavy, but a little expensive.

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  1. Redgate Wines

I liked every wine I tried at Redgate, which put it near the top of the list for me.

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  1. Cape Mentelle

Cape Mentelle was also a winery where I liked every wine I tried.

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  1. Vasse Felix

The large grounds and spacious cellar door make Vasse Felix an attractive option. They also serve excellent food in the restaurant upstairs.

5. Stella Bella

Stella Bella is commercially set up well with a fine Italian restaurant, which seems to be a favourite of the locals.

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  1. Howling Wolves

I loved the clever marketing of Howling Wolves and the fact that the wines were affordable.

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  1. Xanadu

Xanadu had a great indoor display of vines with information on wine growing

8. Leeuwin Estate Winery

The modern and strangely shaped building at Leeuwin was interesting.

Happy travels!

Related posts: 10 top wineries to go to in the Mornington Peninsula10 top wineries to go to in the Barossa10 top wineries to go to in the Hunter ValleyIt’s a winery thing, 10 things to do in the Gold Coast, 10 things to do in Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, 10 things I have learnt from travelling

10 top wineries to go to in the Mornington Peninsula

I went to the Mornington Peninsula for the Winter Wine Festival with a group of friends and it was great fun. On the first day, we went to the main festival area where all of the wineries in the region were available in one place to taste. It was great to try so many different wines in one location, but a little overwhelming. So for the next two days, we toured around by ourselves visiting vineyards one at a time.

The Mornington Peninsula itself is a beautiful part of the world with beautiful beaches, long piers, great lookouts and even a huge hedge maze. I would love to return in the summer months when I am sure the area sparkles even more.

My top 10 wineries in the Mornington Peninsula are:

  1. Box Stallion

Box Stallion was my favourite winery in the Mornington Peninsula as I pretty much liked every wine I tasted here- both red and white. It is now, unfortunately closed.

  1. Foxey’s Hangout

This winery was a highlight as the owner makes and bottles your own personalised bottle of sparkling wine.

  1. Red Hill

Red Hill has the best views over the water. They also have award winning pinot noir’s and chardonnays.

  1. Ten Minutes by Tractor

A cute story about three vineyards that are all ten minutes from each other by tractor gave this winery its name. It is kitschy, but fun, with old style tractors to pose on.

  1. Port Phillip Estate

Port Phillip Estate is well established and well known. All the wines are handpicked and aged in French Oak.

  1. Paringa Estate

This winery has a beautiful dining room overlooking vineyards, with good food. They produce good classic Mornington Peninsula pinot noir.

  1. Vidoni Estate Vineyard

Vidoni Estate Vineyard is surrounded by olive groves producing tasty olives, olive oil and olive-related products.

  1. Willow Creek

This winery makes cool climate single vineyard wines. It is now attached to the Rare Hare restaurant.

  1. Stonier Wines

Stonier Wines is rated five stars by James Halliday. It produces pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling wines.

  1. Moorooduc Estate

With an unusual and imposing building making this estate memorable, they use Burgundian techniques and focus on matching food with wine.

Happy trails!

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10 top wineries to go to in the Barossa

I have been lucky enough to go to the Barossa in South Australia three times and I think it is my favourite wine region in Australia. Being one of the older regions it is well established with pretty heritage buildings and the food is also fantastic.

There’s the fancy fermentAsia in Tanunda, Maggie’s Beer’s farm shop for a casual lunch and Red Door Espresso for a great breakfast. The 1918 bistro and grill and the Tanunda bakery also have good food and seem to be favourites with the locals.

Tanunda is the best area to stay to be near all the action. I’ve stayed at Barossa Valley Apartments each time and can recommend their conveniently located self-contained two bedroom apartments with a swimming pool on the grounds.

My top 10 wineries in the Barossa are:

  1. Rockford Wines.

Rockford is my favourite winery in the Barossa. It has a small, cute cellar door, excellent service from the staff and interesting grounds with winemaking equipment.

  1. Charles Melton

Charles Melton serves a great lunch with affordable wines and excellent service. The rose is good and the reds are great. They also have a super cute border collie.

  1. Henschke

A little bit of a drive away from the main winery area, past a couple of Lutheran churches, you’ll find the beautiful hedged grounds of Henschke and an old cellar door.

  1. Pindarie

With a lovely veranda where you can enjoy a fine lunch with affordable wines, Pindarie makes a good pit stop for lunch.

  1. Wolf Blass

Wolf Blass has affordable wines.

  1. Chateau Tanunda

The iconic Chateau Tanunda is a great castle-like building which even has a croquet ground.

  1. Chateau Yaldara/Barossa

Chateau Yaldara- now called Chateau Barossa- is another lovely old mansion with a fountain. It houses many wines from different wineries to try.

  1. Langmeil

Langmeil has consistently good red wines. With its cellar door conveniently located in town at Tanunda, it’s a great place to make up your case of 12 before sending it back home.

  1. Greenock Creek Vineyard and Cellars

With a very small, old underground cellar door, Greenock serves red wines only. They are a little on the expensive side, but worth it.

  1. Burge Family Winemakers

The Burge family are old established winemakers with new infamous wine dogs.

Happy hunting!

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10 top wineries to go to in the Hunter Valley

Living in Sydney, I have been to the Hunter Valley many times. For weddings, hen’s parties, with friends, as a couple, as a family and for experience activities such at hot air ballooning, husky running and music festivals.

Accommodation is best sorted in a group as there are many houses to rent on different estates. However if there are only a few of you, Cypress Lakes Resort and Harrigan’s Irish Pub offer more expensive hotel accommodation.

Most of the wineries are centred around the Pokolbin region, so plan your trip if you don’t want to be wasting time driving from one end of the valley to another. For a quieter trip with less of a wait at the cellar door, try the Lovedale region.

Not every winery serves food, so if you’re not self catering at a homestay, make sure you plan to visit a winery that serves meals around lunchtime, head for Hunter Valley Gardens for a cheap eat or visit the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop for some night-time nibblies.

There are over 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley and I’ve been to about a third of them. There is no accounting for taste and even though these are my top 10 wineries, they may not be yours.

I’ve also had a couple of days where we went to 7 wineries in a day, so by then end you don’t really know what you’re tasting. I recommend no more than 5 wineries per day, and of course, have a designated driver or hire one to take you on a tour.

  1. Tintilla Estate

By far my favourite winery in the Hunter Valley for red wines is Tintilla Estate. They have many varieties, including my favourite Sangiovese’s and Tempranillo’s. Most times, a trip to the Hunter Valley isn’t complete for me without a visit here to stock up.

  1. Scarborough Wine Co

Scarborough is my favourite vineyard in the Hunter Valley for white wines. They have many different varieties from soft to bold creamy Chardonnay’s and the way they set up the tasting with a placemat for each wine is genius. I once took a non-white drinker here and by the end of the tasting they were converted.

  1. First Creek Wines

First Creek is one of my new favourites. The setting is beautiful as they often have kangaroos hopping by in nearby fields and a horse drawn cart out the front. The cellar door overlooks the winemaking facilities and the relaxed atmosphere makes the wines taste all the more sweet.

  1. Tatler Wines

The owner of Tatler made this a winery to remember for me. Not being a big fan of dessert wines, he taught me a trick: add ice, swirl and the taste is completely different.

  1. Marsh Estate

Unfortunately, I believe Marsh Estate is no longer open. When it was, it was only open 6 months of the year as the owner was a surfer who spent the other 6 months chasing waves. The wines were expensive, but worth it.

  1. Hope Estate

Hope Estate is now well known as it hosts many outdoor live music concerts. The wine is reasonably priced and the cellar door is roomy.

  1. Keith Tulloch

For a nice relaxed wine on the balcony, Keith Tulloch is my pick.

  1. Peterson Champagne House

Champagne, oysters and a chocolate shop next door- what’s not to like? Perfect for a hen’s party and many different types of yummy traditional method champenoise to try.

  1. De Bortoli Wines

Well known for its award winning Hunter Valley Semillon and classic Hunter Shiraz. It also has an infamous wine dog.

  1. Gartelmann Hunter Estate

Another new favourite, Gartelmann has a lovely woodland setting and cute Magpie mascot.

Happy tasting!

Related posts: It’s a winery thing, Hot air ballooning in the Hunter Valley, 10 things to do in the Gold Coast, 10 things to do in Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, 10 things I have learnt from travelling, Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

New Caledonia, 2014

In the approaching winter of 2014, my husband’s family including assorted partners and children, flew to Noumea for a week. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel where our balcony overlooked the pool, Anse Vata beach and Canary Island.

The weather was not the beach weather we had hoped for, being rain with sunny periods. Definitely not swimming weather. Although that didn’t stop me trying, resulting in a very short lived dip in the cold pool, before it started raining again.

We made the most of it anyway and the holiday became all about eating instead. And what a great place for this to occur- in French food heaven. There were the decadent coffee shops, the fantastic French bakeries with sticks of bread and fancy cakes; and our favourite, the French supermarkets with Cote D Or, French wine and yummy carbonara chips. All delicious.

My husband and I also managed to escape for a date night in a French restaurant called Astrolabe in the next bay for a lovely traditional three course dinner. And I had the best Carbonara pasta with raw egg that I have ever had in an Italian restaurant in the hotel complex.

On our first day, we caught the bus to the city market. The bus trip was entertainment enough for our one a half-year-old daughter, but she was very excited by the local musicians playing when we got there too and danced up a storm.

The market overlooked the boats of Port Moselle and had lots of fruit and vegetables for the locals, plus colourful souvenirs for the tourists.

The following day, we caught the bus all the way into town to Coconut Trees square, which funnily enough had lots of coconut trees; and a gazebo. I found a Mango shop amongst all the expensive French clothing shops and we found some French children’s books for our daughter. We also saw the old coach house, Moselle Bay and many colourful murals.

We took a walk along Promenade Roger Laroque to Lemon beach- the beach next to ours. The promenade also had a train running along it that my daughter enjoyed along with the statue of Marilyn Monroe outside the Rock café once we go to the beach.

One day, we dragged the whole family to the Aquarium of the Lagoons to see the coral, fish and related sea creatures. My daughter liked the hands on kid’s section and I liked the porthole windows that you could see luminescent jellyfish through.

On our last day, we took a walk up the hill to Rte Due Ouen Toro for a view over the island and all the beaches we had visited. On the way back we found a large park with lots of swings and dolphin bins. It was heaven for the kids and I’m sure they wished we had found it earlier.

Related posts: Fiji 2008, It’s a South Pacific Thing

Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

Before long, it was time to bid farewell to our New Zealand Sri Lankan family and catch the ferry back to Picton with no view of the Marlborough Sounds once again and a shared baby’s room with no private cabins. We didn’t realise just how spoilt we had been on our previous trip.

My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a rare couple of hours off from the newborn to sample some of the local Marlborough wines near the holiday park we were staying on river in Blenheim.

We started at Lawson’s Dry Hills, who suggested we visit a lovely new winery that I now see popping up in Australian bottle shops everywhere. Wither Hills had an undoubtedly modern cellar door and with old barrels for added character and a view of the vines to the hills.

The next day, we drove the East Coast to Kaikoura to see the seals. We didn’t have to look far as there was one lying in the car park in the sun when we arrived. We walked out onto the rocks and found a few bathing in and out of the beautiful healthy sea weedy water.

That night we stayed at Hamner Springs, a spa town in the hills. We visited the big water park with thermal springs the next day and soaked in the pine forest of the town.

Our final stop was Akaroa, one hour from Christchurch, for New Year’s Eve. Akaroa was a pretty little French inspired town and was my favourite place on the trip.

We stayed in a holiday park overlooking the town which had a comfy lounge building with TV. We walked down the hill into the town and discovered that a cruise ship had invaded for the day.

The French influence could be seen in the French bakeries, lovely heritage buildings and French signage that was dotted around the town. I bought some lovely earrings in a small gift shop and we walked out to the pier on harbour.

On New Year’s Eve we walked a little further to the lighthouse and had a yummy local seafood platter lunch. We were back in the van in time to see the lovely sunset. Our little family of three were all sleeping well before midnight, so tuckered out that not even fireworks hitting the van at midnight woke us up.

By the end of the trip, we had gotten used to our comfy little portable home and were sad to drop the campervan off in Christchurch before we boarded our plane home on New Years Day. New Zealand had turned out to be much more beautiful than I had imagined and I was so glad we had come.

Related posts: West Coast to Wellington, 2012, Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004

Change is the new black

This year has been a year of changes for me. One of realisations, discoveries and learnings.

I have realised the strangeness of my past and accepted those things I cannot change. Rather than dwelling on what was not, instead I am looking towards what can be in the future and how I can change the patterns of the past.

I have discovered strength in myself that I never knew I had, as well as several professional strengths that I sort of knew were always there. Clarity of, and confidence in, these strengths is what will lead me to my next adventure in the New Year.

I have learnt how to be flexible and change my approach. A different path forged can sometimes be lonely, but prioritising what is important to you helps lead the way.

I have realised the greatness of people around me once again. Conversation, human nature and the desire of the majority to be friendly, helpful and kind.

I have discovered the joy of a little growing person who I actually get a kick out of spending time with. Going to the movies, the zoo or just being at home.

I have learnt a new appreciation of the city I live in. Drinking, dining and boating on the harbour. Date nights, work outings and hanging with friends.

The biggest change has been the discovery of exercise. That’s right, you heard it here first, this non-gym goer now has a personal trainer and loves it!

This year has also been a year of domestic travel. Back on the wine trail in Tasmania, the Barossa and the Hunter Valley with good friends and my small family of three.

Next year I look forward to more of the same, plus hopefully more international travel to destinations unknown. I can’t wait to realise my own potential, discover the value of a mentor and learn more about other people and places.

I have definitely achieved my end of year goals from 2014 of trying to appreciate the little things and dream bigger about the big things, beyond even what I had thought was possible.

Yes, change has definitely been the new black for me in 2015 and may 2016 continue this exciting trend.

Catch you in the New Year, and as always, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for the title of this week’s blog post, but it got your attention didn’t it?!

P.S Thanks to all the website owners that have published my 2015 travel tales from Barcelona, traveling with kids, Sri Lanka and closer to home.

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Canada, 2011

In the Canadian summer of 2011, I travelled to White Rock, Canada to attend my cousin Kate’s wedding. It was important to me to be there as despite the distance of where we both lived, we were the only girls on the side of the family, so were close.

The wedding was held at my aunt and uncles place with a view of the water. Many friends and family had come from all over the world to attend. I had arrived a few days before the wedding, so had time to catch up with Kate- we even fitted in dancing and a movie.

I also met my cousin Glen’s girlfriend at the time, Tara. We got along well and had pre wedding manicures together. My cousin Jay and his family had flown in from Australia too, so it was a full house buzzing with preparations including marquee and stage building.

I caught up with Celina on my first night there over too many red wines at the local pub. She had a toddler now, so it was lovely to meet him and go for ice cream on the seafront on another day.

One night, Jeanette picked me up and we went over to Celina’s place for dinner. I was impressed to learn that Jeanette had started a successful business of her own.

The garden wedding itself was held on a bright sunny day. It started in a beautiful Apex shaped church and ended in dancing, party crashers and a bit too much wine.

It was great to see Geoff and Genevieve there, who now had two boys, and catch up with the groom, Ben, and meet his family. My personal favourite touch were the table centres that were formerly grandmother’s teacups.

I left the day after the wedding to catch the bus to Seattle and an internal flight to visit my bestie in her hometown of Nebraska for 4th July. I had never been to an Independence Day celebration and was very much looking forward to the experience.

Related posts: New Year’s Eve on the Island, 2007Christmas in Canada, 2007, Canada, 2005, Canada, 2002, Canada, 1997-1998, Canada, 1997, Canada, 1990, It’s a Canadian Thing

Slovenia, 2010

From Croatia, my husband and I caught the train to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Having been disappointed with our honeymoon hotel in Dubrovnik, we decided to splash out for our last stop so we stayed at the Hotel Slon. Here, we finally got a free honeymoon gift in the form of a fruit plater, models milled around the lobby and I was excited to discover that there was a H & M next door. The surrounding area also had lots of old bank buildings, each one different.

There were dragons everywhere in Ljubljana- on lamp posts, on the town hall spire, on the castle gates and in the National Gallery. I finally caved and bought a dragon of my own to take home. It was also was a town of pretty squares. There was the colourful Presernov square with a Franciscan church and a scale model of city; Mesti square with the Rome-like Robba fountain; Stari square with the Hercules fountain and Gornji square with the medieval houses. The New square was no so interesting after all of these.

There were many bridges to cross in the city- the famous Triple bridge, Cobblers bridge and my favourite, the Dragon’s bridge. We found a great market lining the bank of the Ljubljana River and were amused by the statues of queuing people at the museum entry. There was an interesting water feature on the ground in an alleyway and the door on the Cathedral of St Nicholas also had much bronze detailing.

We visted a wine bar, had goulash that was so good that we went back on another night, and just enjoyed being in such an unexpectedly cosmopolitan city.

Forsaking the funicular, we walked up Studentovska St to Ljubljana castle for a stroll along the castle rampart. We saw the pentagonal tower and the beautiful ornate ceiling in the Chapel of St George. The view of the city from Razgledni Stolp tower was fantastic.

We took a day trip to Bled and walked around the lake. Bled castle appeared to be perched precariously on the edge of a cliff surrounded by snowy mountains. Passing the castle baths with bathing swans we came upon many Swiss looking houses.

Bled island in the middle of the lake had the baroque Church of Assumption and the prominent south staircase to the Chaplains house. It was nice to pass by streams feeding the lake and we stopped at a bar for lunch halfway around.

Others had caught boats, swan gondolas, horse and cart’s or the train to get around the lake, but I was glad that we took our time to see things like the resting dragonfly that landed on my husbands arm. It was a very romantic way to end the honeymoon before we made a short stop in England to surprise my grandma who had been unable to make it to Thailand for the wedding.

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