Cosy up at the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival

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Winter is the ultimate season to enjoy a smooth, rich glass of red. Over the first weekend of July, you can taste some of the very finest drops at the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival; the region’s biggest celebration of all things shiraz.

With 26 participating wineries from Jack Rabbit Vineyard to Mt Duneed Estate, locals and travellers alike will be spoilt with a wide selection of the region’s cool-climate wines, plus delicious food and various tasting experiences at each location.

Across two days and three different sub-regions – Moorabool Valley, Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast – there’ll be winery tours, barrel tastings, degustation dining and best of all, some talented chefs will be whipping up some hearty winter fare to pair with the wines. For those with a penchant for wine education, pop into one of the wine masterclasses or meet some of the makers for a yarn about their winemaking process. We’re certain you’ll be taking leaps and bounds on your journey to wine connoisseur – your friends will definitely be impressed.

So why not put your feet up by the fire, learn the art of wine tasting straight from the horse’s mouth, or just make it a weekend of fun with friends and a good drink? We are certain you’ll come home with a fuller mind, heart… and belly.

If you plan on doing lots of drinking, we recommend booking some local accommodation or an all-included tour (featuring a designated driver). Head over to their website below for more info.

WHAT: Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival
WHERE: Various wineries
WHEN: 3 – 4 July 2021
MORE INFO: Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

How Bendigo plans to ignite your senses this wintertime

Words by Della Vreeland
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Australia’s first (and only) UNESCO Creative City and Region of Gastronomy is taking things up a notch this wintertime with its magical Ignite Festival.

With a sprinkle of razzle and a whole bunch of dazzle, the city will be transformed into a centre of vibrant activity where spirit and imagination abound!

Featuring a plethora of food and drink events, masterclasses and retreats, art and cultural soirees, markets and music festivals, there is an experience set to indulge all.

Here are some of the ways Ignite is set to sparkle your senses this winter season.

See the magic unfold

Ignite BendigoThere is an abundance of performance and culturally instilled events taking place during Ignite, making up the core of the festival program.

The Awaken event will illuminate Rosalind Park, and the Mary Quant Fashion Revolutionary exhibition will continue at the Bendigo Art Gallery (with an accompanying 60s Quant Up Late event).

Taste and smell the fine fare

As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, you know you’re in for a real (culinary) treat no matter when you visit Bendigo. But come time for the Ignite Festival, and the city’s cafes, restaurants and bars put their best foot forward with a whole series of specially-curated events showcasing the best in local food and drink.

Enjoy a high tea in style, sit down for a Bastille Day feast, experience a Spanish Christmas in July, devour regional fare at the launch of Bendigo’s newest foodie neighbourhood Lyttle Eat Street, get your meat fix at the Slow Smokin’ Saturdays, share a night of wonder and wine under the stars with the Astronomical Society of Victoria, and savour a whole lot of other dinners, lunches and brunches in regional Victoria’s leading food destination.

Proud Dja Dja Wurrung, Latje Latje and Wotjabulluk woman Raylene Harradine will also be hosting a 6Seasons Dinner along with chef Gina Triolo from Bendigo’s Hoo-gah Cafe. The special degustation-styled event will feature six courses, each focussed on the six Aboriginal annual seasons of Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang.

Hear the tunes and tales

Ignite BendigoAnother sure way to warm up during the chilly months is with some sweet melodies and stories – blues on the Victorian Goldfields Railway train or live at Castlemaine’s Taproom, a two-day festival of Americana bands at Shiraz Republic or a session of storytelling about People and Country at the Ulumbarra Theatre.

Feel the warmth as your hands make and create

The festival program has all the hands-on folk covered too, with workshops and masterclasses that will ignite a passion for cooking, creating, cheesemaking and croissant-ing (don’t mind our love for alliteration).

Take up cheesemaking sessions with resident French makers at Long Paddock Cheese, learn the art of croissant making from a Michelin-trained pastry chef, enrol in a cooking class or two, enjoy a one-day mosaic workshop, or try your hand at writing at the Hidden Writer retreats.

Once you’re done making, you can also head to one of the different markets and find some handmade goodness for yourself – nicely rounding off your Ignite experience.

Now there’s a delight for the senses.


WHAT: Ignite Bendigo
WHEN: 1st June – 31st August

Wine-filled long weekend on the Mornington Peninsula

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Get ready to get up close and personal with a winemaker at Winter Wine Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula.

What began in the early 1980s as a way to showcase Mornington Peninsula wines has grown from strength to strength, becoming an annual event on every wine enthusiast’s calendar. The Winter Wine Weekend – Saturday 24th  of July – is proudly presented by the Mornington Peninsula Wine.

Mornington Peninsula as a wine region

Whether the peninsula means camping on the foreshore over summer school holidays, a golfing trip with mates or a ride on the Arthurs Seat chairlift, there’s no denying the area occupies a soft spot in the heart of many.

For such a small area geographically, it exhibits incredible diversity when it comes to wine. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the peninsula is webbed with hills and valleys and hosts an array of soil types from yellow and brown soils to red volcanic clay and sandy loam.

All this adds up to a patchwork of micro-climates when it comes to wine production, meaning there’s an infinite number of wine styles for your drinking pleasure. Good thing the Winter Wine Weekend over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend gives you the opportunity to try as many as you like.

Region’s top varietals

The region’s signature varietal is undoubtedly pinot noir, making up half the fruit grown in the region. Chardonnay is a close second with pinot gris/grigio also making a noteworthy appearance. There are also independent winemakers challenging expectations with tempranillo, arneis, savagnin, gamay and more.

Elegant pinot noir is the star of the region as it thrives in the cool climate. Though exact flavour profile varies across the sub-regions thanks to soil, elevation etc. Mornington Peninsula pinot noir is generally light to medium in body, with bright berry notes balanced by soft, savoury tannins. Saturday’s showcase is the ideal time to find your perfect pinot.

Chardonnay also loves the cool conditions, producing a restrained wine with delicate melon and citrus notes, as well as the expected mineral, flinty aspects often found in maritime wine regions. Pinot gris/grigio has a growing fan base thanks to its crisp, food-friendly flavour profile.

Exhibition and tasting Saturday

Saturday’s showcase takes place over three sheds at the Red Hill Showgrounds. Each shed will represent one sub-region with that area’s wineries and restaurants determined to convince you of their excellence.

In total, there will be 45 wineries and over 200 wines to sample so you’re going to need a plan of attack. Grab a buddy and secure your booking. They’ll provide a complimentary Riedel tasting glass, you just need to bring boots, a warm jacket and a willingness to eat and drink.

Ten Minutes by Tractor, Foxeys Hangout, Avani Winery, Mantons Creek Estate and Ocean Eight are just a handful of the wineries participating in the extravaganza, as well as debuting the new ‘Heartbreak’ gin from Bass & Flinders Distillery made with local pinot noir grapes.

Choose from tempting menus by Barmah Park, Lindenderry Red Hill, Many Little Bar & Bistro, Montalto, Paringa Estate and Pt Leo Estate. Red Hill Cheese will be providing their quality artisan cheese for your snacking requirements and Brew Up Bar coffee will keep you caffeinated throughout the day.

Covid-safe practices are built into the program, with each shed accommodating 300 people for a 90-minute session before rotating out and onto the next shed. Tickets are selling fast and with a strict limit of only 900 tickets, bookings are essential.



WHAT: Mornington Peninsula’s Winter Wine Weekend
WHERE: Red Hill Showgrounds, 190 Arthurs Seat Rd, Red Hill
WHEN:  Saturday 24th of July
MORE INFO: Mornington Peninsula Wine

Stunning new winery and function space destined to become the new darling of the Yarra Valley

‘A real game changer’ that’s how Paul Bridgeman describes Levantine Hill’s new $20+ million state-of-the-art winery. Bridgeman, who earnt his stripes at Yarra Ridge, DeBortoli Yarra Valley, Yarra Yering and now Levantine Hill, is understandably proud and a little excited to share this stunning winery and function space with the public.

‘It’s an amazingly beautiful building and a purpose built winery which perfectly suits how we go about making the wine.’

Production is what it’s all about on the ground level, with grapes picked only metres away then brought into the winery before undergoing hand sorting, crushing/pressing and then into fermentation tanks. There are plans to add a bottling line later in the year.

The underground basement is a winemaker’s dream, with its temperature and humidity controlled environment perfect for barrel maturation. But it’s the mezzanine level where all the hard work comes together with an analysis laboratory and a tasting room flooded with natural light, vital for effective assessment of the wines.

‘It was not going to be just four walls and a tin roof. It always had to be as much an architectural statement and a bit of a monument as well as a practical winemaking facility,’ Bridgeman explains. It was renowned Melbourne architecture firm Fender Katsalidis Architects who were able to bring this mission to life, designing the winery and accompanying function space to complement the property’s existing restaurant and cellar door.

The building’s grand sweeping curves are redolent of the area’s undulating hills but its beauty is more than skin deep. Environmentally sustainable principles were incorporated into the sculptural design ensuring good temperature control and ventilation.


WHAT: Levantine Hill
WHERE: 882 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
WHEN: Mon, Thurs, Fri 11am – 5pm, Sat, Sun 11am – 6pm
MORE INFO: Levantine Hill

A new 3 week festival is coming to East Gippsland this winter

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One takeaway from 2020 we’re glad to embrace is the backyard getaway. Amidst the uncertainty of international (and at times interstate) travel, there’s never been a better time to explore your own state. From charming small towns, a vibrant arts scene, local produce the envy of many, spectacular coastlines, excellent eateries and much more, there’s one place that has this all wrapped up – East Gippsland.

East Gippsland Winter Festival (June 18 to July 11) is a celebration of all things art, music, wine, craft beer and local produce. Spread over three weeks there will be a raft of activities including interactive art installations, pop-up events, live music, workshops, exclusive dinners and lavish feasts showcasing the best the region has to offer.

With bushfires, drought and Covid challenging many a local business, festival founder Adam Bloem was looking for a way to attract more people to the region. ’I wanted something that encouraged people to stay a bit longer and travel around and explore all of the little towns and villages.’

We now have over 70 events on our festival program and the majority of these have been devised and organised by local businesses, community groups and passionate locals. The response has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to welcome thousands of visitors to East Gippsland over winter where there will be lots of things to see, do, eat and drink right across the region.

From Mallacoota to Paynesville, north to Omeo and everywhere in between, friendly locals can’t wait to share their special corner of the world with you. Kick it off on Friday, June 18 with the official festival opening in Bairnsdale with live music and roving performers, as well as a bevy of food/wine options and art projections throughout the town.

Pencil in the Pinot Picnic and Masterclass on Sunday, June 20 thanks to the acclaimed Sardine Eatery + Bar and Lightfoot & Sons Winery. This not-to-be-missed event salutes Gippsland Lakes District’s exceptional pinot noir at Lightfoot and Son’s cellar door. The winemaker-guided Masterclass will take place in their barrel room with guests enjoying a Sardine Eatery picnic box filled with cheese, charcuterie and conserves.

This year’s winter solstice on Monday, June 21 just happens to coincide with World Bathing Day. Join bathers from across the globe at sunrise for a live-streamed Global Sound Bath. From the new pop-up bathing area on the future Metung Hot Springs site, drink in the beauty of the natural surrounds for a calm and balanced start to your day.


The Lakes Light Festival on Saturday, June 26 promises to be a festival highlight. Watch a mural painting as it unfolds in both a virtual sense and in reality at the former iceworks factory, and now arts hub, in Lakes Entrance.

Is it time to unleash your inner artist? Then don’t miss the lantern making workshop on Tuesday, June 29 in Swifts Creek. This idyllic town in the Tambo Valley is quickly developing a strong reputation for its arts scene and part in the Great Alpine Arts Trail. Experienced local artists will guide you through the process and shine a light on your creative side. Great fun for all ages!

One of the festival standouts has to be the Sailors Grave Deep Winter Festival on Saturday, July 3. Sailors Grave is a darling of the craft beer scene for good reason. Their complex beers (and idiosyncratic branding) tell the story of their unique region, their terroir. None more so than their recent release Dark Emu Dark Lager, a collaboration with Uncle Bruce Pascoe honouring indigenous culture and knowledge.

The Deep Winter event kicks off at 6 pm at the home of Sailors Grave brewery, a 100-year-old butter factory on the banks of the Snowy River. Music will be provided by post-punk Oz rock band Shepparton Airplane and other special guests, with food by Melbourne butchers Meatsmith. Co-founders Gab and Chris Moore can’t wait to welcome you.

By now you’re thinking it might be a great idea to plan a little exercise and thankfully the area has some of the most scenic trails in the state. Little River Gorge Walk will certainly get the blood pumping but also rewards that effort with a stunning view over one of Victoria’s deepest gorges and the mis-named Little River. Of course, a leisurely stroll around one of the area’s many lakes might be more your pace. Check out some of the options here.

So many activities – both day and night – means you’re going to need somewhere to stay. With accommodation options from traditional B&Bs, luxe glamping or maybe a waterside retreat complete with mooring for your boat, there’s no excuse not to head east this winter.


WHAT: East Gippsland Winter Festival
WHERE: Various locations around East Gippsland
WHEN: Saturday 19th June – Sunday 11th July 2021
MORE INFO:  Register for program updates at the East Gippsland Winter Festival website.

A fleet of airstreams rolls into Mitchelton

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There’ll be more than just Prosecco sparkling at Mitchelton this summer. The Nagambie winery has expanded its accommodation offering, with a fleet of seven Airstream RVs.

Seven of the vintage-style American caravans, known for their distinctive rounded shape and polished aluminium finish, have rolled into Mitchelton to adorn the Estate and offer a unique, year-round accommodation option for guests.

Continuing with the caravanning theme, the Airstreams each have their own deck area with a barbecue so you can whip up some bacon and eggs to have alongside a bottle of Mitchelton sparkling for a DIY proseccie-breakie. Each morning you’ll find a premium breakfast hamper delivered to your door and if you’re in need of a snack, the dry minibar is included.

Mitchelton’s Airstreams are just a short walk from the winery’s existing accommodation, the Mitchelton Hotel, and Airstream guests will also have access to the rest of the facilities including the pool, gym, day spa and Australia’s largest commercial gallery dedicated to Indigenous art.

When it comes to dinner options, you won’t have to go far, with the on-site restaurant, The Muse, offering a menu that favours local, sustainable and ethically farmed ingredients, to be enjoyed alongside a glass or two of wine from Mitchelton’s awarded cellar.

Martin Garrett, Mitchelton Hotel General Manager, said, “Mitchelton isn’t just a winery – we have an incredible Estate in the heart of the Nagambie region which is ripe for exploring. The Mitchelton Airstream Hotel can help do just that – take our guests into the heart of nature for an experience like no other.

WHAT: Mitchelton Airstream Hotel
WHERE: 470 Mitchellstown Rd, Nagambie
WHEN: Coming soon
MORE INFO: Mitchelton Airstream Hotel

Seville Estate welcomes a cool new container bar

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For those who want to combine an easy-breezy winery experience with an edgy inner-city bar vibe, this Yarra Valley destination is for you.

Introducing Container Bar, a new venue launched by the legends over at Seville Estate Winery. Nestled in the Phillip Johnson native garden on the edge of Seville Estate, the wine bar features everything you’d expect from the crew; exceptional wine, seasonal produce and a chill atmosphere in which to enjoy the views.

Open on the weekends between 11am and 5pm, punters can either walk-in or plan ahead with bookings for up to ten people. Whether you’re popping by to sample some of the stellar tipples from Seville Estate, or fancy a full day of drinks, cheese and oysters, this is your one-stop shop.

The good news doesn’t stop there though. In preparation for end of year festivities, the crew has launched a series of exclusive dining experiences, tailored specifically for groups. Hosted in their lush outdoor patio, guests can expect a three-course luncheon – kicked off at 11:30am and in the container bar, of course – designed to share and reconnect. It’s COVID-safe, scrumptious and makes for the perfect Christmas party.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the end of 2020 and we’re finding it hard to imagine a more relaxing, nourishing way to do it than at one of these killer venues. Knocking back some Chardonnay in an industrial-style container with the summer breeze on your skin; laughing with friends over oysters and experiencing the best service in the Yarra Valley… Well, let’s just say we’ll see you there.

WHAT: Container Bar
WHERE: 65 Linwood Road, Seville
WHEN: Weekends between 11am and 5pm
MORE INFO: Seville Estate Winery

Healesville is home to a lush new wine garden

Images via Innocent Bystander

There’s a lot to love about a wine garden. Shady, secluded spots to sip on your favourite drop. Tranquil greenery to absorb the day’s worries. They are the perfect place to unwind and soak up the summer sun.

And we can thank the good people at Innocent Bystander for bringing Healesville the newest leafy oasis, The Garden of Innocence, where one can enjoy award-winning wine without the fuss.

Nestled between Grace Burn Creek and the Innocent Bystander’s cellar door, the wine garden is all about enjoying the best of summer in a relaxed yet COVID-safe environment. The space increases their outdoor dining capacity to 70, meaning there’s plenty of room to bring your mates and maybe make a few new ones.

Wine-lovers will be in paradise looking through Innocent Bystander’s extensive list. With plenty of new vintages on offer – from 2020 Rose, 2019 Pinot Gris and Chardonnay perfect for summer drinking, to the old favourites like Pinot Noir and Prosecco – there’s a drop for every taste. 

And if wine isn’t your thing, don’t fret. In November, Innocent Bystander launched a brand new cider made in collaboration with Yarra Valley’s Hargreaves Hill, made with local pink lady apples. Then there are the stellar cocktails like a Rose Gin and Tonic, a Pinot Noir Negroni, or Tempranillo Old Fashioned. You will be ‘cheersing’ to your newfound freedom is utter style.

Of course, no wine garden would be complete without a grazing menu and the team have gone above and beyond to provide the ultimate fresh, locally grown eats. From authentic wood-fired pizzas and classic paella, to house-cured salmon gravlax and decadent cheese boards, all meals are crafted with sharing in mind. 

Officially opening Friday the 13th of November, all outdoor dining is unreserved and walk-in friendly. So set the date and get ready to enjoy the friendly, relaxed atmosphere Innocent Bystander is famous for!

WHAT: Innocent Bystander’s ‘The Garden of Innocence’
WHERE: 316-334 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville
WHEN: November 13th 2020
MORE INFO: Innocent Bystander


Outcast Episode #5 – Dirty Three Wines

Watch the latest episode of ‘Outcast’ as Mike chats to Marcus Satchell from Dirty Three Wines in Gippsland.

Marcus has an impressive background in winemaking and currently runs three vineyards in South Gippsland that produce some stunning Pinot Noir. This one is all about wine, winemaking and of course, there’s some tasting too.