Friday, 31 March 2017

A new way to get to Hanoi from Australia in style


Australians now have a handy new route to Vietnam with the launch of a thrice-weekly direct flight from Sydney to the historic Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. 

The service will be operated on a 274-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, adding 85,000 seats annually between the two countries. 


Sydney Airport managing director and chief executive officer Kerrie Mather said the new service provided additional capacity as demand for travel to and from Vietnam continued to increase.

“More than 240,000 passengers travelled between Sydney and Vietnam in 2016, and we’re delighted this new service will provide more choice for this growing market,” she said.

“With about 40% of Australia’s Vietnamese-born residents living in New South Wales, the service will make an important contribution to supporting the visiting family and friends market.

“Hanoi’s colonial architecture and rich sense of history also make it the ideal holiday destination for Australian travellers.”

Vietnam Airlines general manager Hung Truong said he was proud to launch the Hanoi-Sydney service, with the airline now offering 17 flights per week to Australia. Most go to Ho Chi Minh City.

“The new service will increase capacity to meet growing tourism, business and trade demand, as well as contributing toward the development of the relationship between Australia and Vietnam,” Truong said.

“The service means better connection times to North-east Asia as well as Europe, allowing Vietnam Airlines to connect Australian travellers to more of the world.

“Passengers can enjoy our new generation aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, on all flights from Australia to Vietnam and beyond, with the aircraft operating three luxury cabins of service, business, premium economy and economy class.”

I sampled the very roomy and comfortable premium economy on the way over, and business class on the way back. Premium economy is highly recommended with good food and service, while business offers the luxury of a lie-flat bed.


Sydney-Hanoi is the 55th international route serviced by Vietnam Airlines. 

VN787 departs Hanoi on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday at 2355, arrives in Sydney at 1315 (AEDT) the next day

VN786 departs Sydney on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 1515 (AEDT), arrives in Hanoi 2050.

For details and bookings see www.vietnamairlines.com







Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Are airline travellers selfish or stupid?

Two domestic flights today and several examples of travel idiocy.

First a flight from Hobart to Melbourne was delayed; putting several passengers with a connection to Perth in danger of missing their next flight. 

The crew did the right thing; asking all passengers to remain seated until the Perth-bound folk had exited the plane. 

The announcement was clear and easily understood - and was completely ignored by the vast majority of passengers, including two middle-aged women who did their best to block the aisle. 

Flight two: a jam-packed one from Melbourne to Sydney. 

Despite clear regulations (and test units) that travellers were restricted to one hand baggage unit of a maximum of 7kg and defined dimensions, at least half the passengers carried either full-size suitcases or two or three bags. 


The result, of course, was that there was not enough space for all the baggage. Qantas, of course, should have refused access to those with bags so heavy they could barely lift them - but whatever happened to common decency? 

My third gripe of the day is those passengers with lamentably weak bladders. 

No soon has the seat belt sign been turned off than these creatures rise in unison to head for the toilets. 

No matter there were copious toilets in the waiting lounge. No matter the crew are trying to do a food and beverage run on a 50-minute flight, these travellers need to block the aisle. 

Just what is going on. Are Australian travellers selfish or just stupid? Your thoughts? 




Monday, 27 March 2017

Tasmanian distillery releases gins made three ways

Is there no end to the number of delicious gins being produced by boutique distilleries in Tasmania? 

The latest release is a trio of gins from Southern Wild Distillery and is named after two wild rivers, Dasher and Fisher, which run from Cradle Mountain through the hinterland to the north-west coastline of the Apple Isle. 



 The Dasher + Fisher range comprises three gins that have been made using ingredients inspired by the clean air and dramatic Tasmanian landscape and are called Mountain, Meadow and Ocean
Crafted by local distiller George Burgess, showcasing local botanicals, Mountain uses native pepperberry and citrus, vibrant Meadow highlights lavender, and Ocean features wakame seaweed. 

The gins are distilled using a unique copper still that Burgess designed and had hand-made in Tasmania. The design uses a vapour process to produce the smoothest possible spirit. 
"Dasher + Fisher spirits are first and foremost ‘eating gins’, best tasted with food and created with food in mind," says Burgess. 
The gins, beautifully packaged and presented, are available from Southern Wild Distillery and online via southernwilddistillery.com and retail for $90 for 700mls or a three-pack of 200ml bottles for the same price. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

You have only 24 hours to snap up a bargain fare to Tasmania

Not everyone enjoys flying with Jetstar but if you are willing to fly with Qantas's budget offshoot then there are some great fares on offer from mainland Australia to Tasmania right now. 


Tourism Tasmania and Jetstar are running a co-operative marketing campaign to encourage travel to Tasmania over the quieter, cooler months; but the seat sale ends on Monday, March 27. 

Tickets are for travel between July 25 to September 20 and from October 17 to December 20, 2017. 

Fares from Melbourne (Avalon) to Hobart start from just $29, Melbourne (Tullamarine) to Launceston from $39, Sydney to Launceston from $45 and Brisbane to Hobart from $79.

Just plan for your flight in advance and do not get caught up buying unnecessary extras for a short-haul flight.  

Full details are available from the Jetstar website. www.jetstar.com.au 

Friday, 24 March 2017

After 200 years, an inventor has created a drip-free wine bottle

An American inventor will earn the gratitude of wine lovers around the world if his innovation is adopted by bottle manufacturers. 

Drips are the bane of every wine drinker's existence. He or she uncorks a bottle of wine, tips it toward the glass, and a drop, or sometimes even a stream, runs down the side of the bottle. 


Drinkers can do what sommeliers in restaurants do, wrapping a napkin around the neck of the bottle to catch the liquid, but that is fiddly and time-consuming. Much more likely, you’ll end up with a few drops of red on the tablecloth.

Daniel Perlman - a wine-lover, inventor and biophysicist at Brandeis University in the United States - says he has figured out a solution to this age-old oenophile's problem. Over the course of three years, he has been studying the flow of liquid across the lip of different wine bottles. 

By cutting a groove just below the lip, he says he's created a drip-free wine bottle.


Perlman is a renowned inventor with over 100 patents to his name for everything from specialised lab equipment to the first miniaturised home radon detector. 

Along with Professor Emeritus of Biology K.C. Hayes, he developed the "healthy fats" in Smart Balance margarine. Most recently, he devised coffee flour, a food ingredient and nutritional supplement derived from par-baked coffee beans.

There are already products on the market designed to prevent wine spillage, but they require inserting a device into the bottle neck. Perlman didn’t want consumers to have to take an additional step after they made their purchase. 

"I wanted to change the wine bottle itself," he says. "I didn't want there to be the additional cost or inconvenience of buying an accessory."  Figure out the physics, he thought, and you might be able to build a drip-free wine bottle.

Perlman studied slow-motion videos of wine being poured. He observed first that drippage was most extreme when a bottle was full or close to it. He also saw that a stream of wine tends to curl backwards over the lip and run down the side of the glass bottle because glass is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water.

Using a diamond-studded tool, Perlman, assisted by engineer Greg Widberg, created a circular groove around the neck of the bottle just beneath the top. A droplet of wine that would otherwise run down the side of the bottle encounters the groove, but can’t traverse it. 

Instead, it immediately falls off the bottle into the glass along with the rest of the wine. 

Remember that when you pour a full or nearly-full bottle of wine, you hold it at a slightly upward angle in relation to the glass. For a drop of wine to make it across Perlman's groove, it would have to travel up inside the groove against the force of gravity or have enough momentum to jump from one side of the groove to the other. 

After many tests,  Perlman found the perfect width, roughly 2 millimetres, and depth, roughly 1 millimetre, for the groove so that the wine stream can't get past it.

Current wine bottle designs date to the 1800s and haven't changed much since. About 200 years of drips, drabs, stains and spots may be coming to an end. Perlman is currently speaking with bottle manufacturers about adopting his design.


New flagship wine honours an Australian pioneer

Look out for a new icon wine from Brown Brothers that pays tribute to second-generation family patriarch John Charles Brown. 

The 2013 John Charles Brown Shiraz, Mondeuse and Cabernet is a single-vineyard wine from the family's original farm, planted at Milawa in north-east Victoria in 1885. 

The new wine marks the innovation shown by John Charles Brown in 1954, when he decided to experiment with an unusual blend. Cabernet sauvignon and mondeuse grapes generally require more time on the vine than shiraz to obtain full ripeness.


He decided to leave the shiraz on the vine longer so all three varieties were picked on the same day and co-fermented. The blend is still made in the same fashion today. 

John Charles Brown was the only son of the Brown Brothers founder, John Francis Brown. He died 2004, aged 89, as his 70th vintage at Milawa drew to a close. 

Having commenced in the business in 1934, John Charles held many positions from winemaker to manager to managing director to chairman and finally life president.

When he joined his father, the family had 35 acres under vines and supplemented their income with other farming activities. It was for winemaking that the company established its reputation, and the cereal crops and fat lambs gave way to grapevines.

John Charles initiated experiments in trialling uncommon varieties. These experiments continue today, with over 40 different varieties grown in the diverse micro-climates of the company’s vineyards.

He was widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s foremost winemaking innovators. He was the first vigneron to pre-drain white grape juice to retain the delicate grape flavours in white wines; the first to use refrigeration to control wine fermentation temperatures; and the first, in 1962, to produce a Noble Rot Riesling using botrytis-affected riesling grapes from the Milawa estate.

His efforts were acknowledged in 1989, when his contribution to the wine industry was recognised with the Queen’s Birthday honours list seeing him awarded the Membership of the Order of Australia.

The new wine will sell for $90 and to Brown Brothers club members for $81. 


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Cathay Pacific launches secret fares sale

Cathay Pacific has quietly launched an economy class sale with savings to over 80 destinations for tickets purchased from March 23 to April 24. 

Although the release was only sent to a handful of travel media, it seems there are some great deals on offer for travel from May 1 to November 30 with fares starting from just $675 return from Australia to Asia and $1,331 return to Europe. 

Cathay Pacific’s long-haul economy class has also been recently redesigned for the airline’s brand-new A350-900 aircraft. Available now on flights from Melbourne, and soon from Brisbane and Perth, the A350 offers travellers a new seat with four-way moving cushioned headrest, power outlets and a dedicated table holder.

The A350 also features Cathay Pacific’s first in-flight wifi. For a small fee, passengers can browse the internet, send and receive emails and connect on social media, while access to the Cathay Pacific website, a number of partner websites and live TV news channels are available free of charge.

Meal times see western and Chinese food on offer giving travellers a taste of Hong Kong before they land. Snacks like hot noodle soups are always available.

Among the deals on offer are: Sydney-Hong Kong $745, Perth-Shanghai $675, Melbourne-London Gatwick $1446 and Perth-Amsterdam $1331.

For details see www.cathaypacific.com.au

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A step back in time to colonial days in Tasmania

There is a touch of colonial history and a lot of impressive hospitality when you stay at Sorell Barracks, a delightful bed and breakfast just 25 minutes outside of Hobart and 10 minutes from Hobart Airport. 



I took a punt on Sorell Barracks site unseen on wotif.com for a one-night stay last week and was more than happy with my $116 investment. 


We were given a small self-contained garden cottage that might once have been a chapel and it was packed with antiques, all the modern facilities you might need for a short stay and a small, but impeccably clean, bathroom. 



There were also loft rooms (beware the steep stairs) with balconies and desks, along with a lovely garden with dining settings and barbecues. The top-range of accommodation is four two-room spa suites. 

The owners offer $15 shuttles between the airport and Sorell for those who'd rather stay in a characterful B&B than an airport hotel. 




The oldest building in the township of Sorell, the Barracks is a colonial Georgian terrace built in 1827. The building retains all the charm of the era and while the TV was small in our room, it does the trick for a night or two. 

There were excellent continental breakfast facilities (fruit, cereals, bread, fresh milk and juice etc), a minibar and a comfortable queen bed in the garden cottage, quality towels, free wifi and windows that open to let in fresh air. 

Set in a quiet street but within walking distance to Sorell's hotels, cafes and restaurants, quaint and comfortable Sorell Barracks gets a thumbs up from us. 

Sorell Barracks, 31 Walker Street, Sorell, Tasmania 7127. (03) 6265 1572. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

New direction for Misha's Vineyard

Misha and Andy Wilkinson are the go-ahead couple behind the successful Misha's Vineyard wines from Central Otago in New Zealand. 

Until recently the couple preferred to put their energy into export sales rather than opening a cellar door - but the times they are a changing. 

Misha’s Vineyard has now opened a Tasting Room in Cromwell - the heart of the Central Otago wine region - in an ideal location overlooking Lake Dunstan.


The Wilkinsons have a spectacular 57-hectare estate on the edge of Lake Dunstan at Bendigo, just 10 minutes from Cromwell, but felt a more centrally located tasting room would be easier for guests to access. 

With 20 export markets established and 10 vintages completed, Misha and Andy they decided it was the right time to open a tasting room to showcase their wines. 

“We receive calls every day from people visiting from overseas who are familiar with our brand and want to visit,” said Andy. “We are also seeing increased tourism, with Central Otago growing its reputation as a world-class wine and food destination. Cromwell was also recently named the fastest-growing small town in the country, so it’s really exciting to be part of that growth.”

Recent figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment showed that the Central Otago region had an 11.6% increase in visitor spending across all markets for the year to January 2017. 

According to Tourism New Zealand, 20% of tourists arriving in the country take part in a ‘wine experience’, up from 13% in 2014. 

With the wine tourist in mind, the design concept for Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room was to create a simple yet elegant space that would enable guests to have a relaxed personal tasting experience. A French country inspired theme was chosen and the Wilkinsons also wanted to bring the atmosphere of the vineyard into the tasting room so three walls have large-scale photographic murals showcasing the work of renowned local photographer Tim Hawkins.

The facility includes a private tasting room for members of the newly launched Misha’s Vineyard Vine Club.

Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room is open every day from 10am-4pm, and also offers platters and small plates for those wanting to relax and enjoy a glass of wine and the views.

“The opening of this new tasting room, signifies a new phase of growth for us,” said Misha Wilkinson. “From the outset, the strategy for Misha’s Vineyard has been to build a premium brand working primarily with top restaurants, five-star hotels and premium wine retailers around the world as well as in New Zealand. 

"We’ve won many fans along the way so now we have a place we can host them and thank them for their support, as well as the opportunity of winning some new fans.”

Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room, 180 State Highway 8B, Cromwell 9310. 


Sunday, 19 March 2017

How to cruise the Caribbean for half price: but you'll need to be quick

Cruising can offer extremely good vacation value; and even more so if you can snap up one of the occasional special deals that are on offer.

One of those deals is seven-night Caribbean cruises with MSC Cruises starting from $467 per person twin share.

That's a ridiculously low price even if you do have to make your own way to Miami. It's probably a sign that the Trump effect is already having a major impact on tourists visiting the US.

MSC Cruises, with whom I cruised a few years ago (I was impressed) is offering half-price fares to cruises that visit destinations including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Puerto Rico and St Maarten.

These cruises depart Miami every Saturday and there is the possibility to cruise back to back for 14 nights.

These deals are for cruises from June, 2017, through to February, 2018, and children travel free when sharing a cabin with two adults, paying only port charges.

Seven-night cruises from Miami start from only $467 per person (NZ$682) twin share but this deal is only valid for bookings from March 21-27, Visit MSC Cruises at www.msccruises.com.au, call 1300 028 502 or talk to a travel agent. 


Check all details, and your cabin category, are correct before booking. 

Australia's love affair with Champagne continues


Australians love their Champagne. New figures show Australians popped the second-largest number of Champagne corks in history during 2016, the Comité Champagne announced at Prowein in Germany overnight.

Australia holds its position as the seventh-largest Champagne market on earth and fifth-largest per head of population, with 7.4 million bottles landing in 2016, narrowly missing the all-time record of 8.1 million in 2015.

These figures reveal the first drop in Australia’s Champagne consumption since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2009.

“But Australia’s 2016 champagne sales could hardly be considered as a decline,” says Tyson Stelzer, author of The Champagne Guide and host of the Taste Champagne event series. “An exceptional sales record in 2015 was an anomaly, and 2016 figures perfectly fit Australia’s buoyant growth curve, popping an average of 600,000 more bottles every year since 2009.”

These results confirm the recent trend of Australian drinkers turning away from beer and cheap sparkling wine in favour of more premium cuvées from Champagne.

Champagne sold 306.1 million bottles globally in 2016, marginally less than its post-GFC record of 312.5 million bottles in 2015. The biggest growth markets for champagne in 2016 were Mexico (up 31%), New Zealand (29%), Russia (22%), South Africa (22%), South Korea (16%) and Canada (12%).

Despite this small decline in volume of sales, the average value per bottle of champagne sold globally in 2016 rose by 1.5%.

“The diversification of cuvées is continuing in 2016: 8.6% more bottles of champagne rosé have been shipped than in the previous year, and prestige cuvées show an increase of 4.6%,” said Comité Champagne communications director Thibaut Le Mailloux. “Champagne consumers are turning to ever rarer and more prestigious cuvées.”

“Of Champagne’s top 10 markets, Australia ranks lowest in proportion of rosé consumed, lowest in grower champagne and second-lowest in prestige champagne,” reveals Stelzer. “Our per bottle spend remains one of the lowest in the world.”

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Multiple draw cards lure visitors to Cygnet

There are several reasons to visit the pretty Tasmanian hamlet of Cygnet this weekend (March 18-19).  

First, there are the final two days of the Huon Arts Group Exhibition at the Town Hall, showcasing some of the finest artworks from the Huon Valley.


On Sunday, the fortnightly Cygnet Market, which draws stallholders and visitors from across southern Tasmania, will be held and Cygnet's many cafes will all be open serving local specialities. 

On both Saturday and Sunday, no fewer than 29 local leather workers, guitar makers, potters, woodworkers and other creatives will open their studios and workshops for the annual HandMade In Cygnet arts trail in and around the town. 



Visitors can check the website and plan their own trail using the interactive map http://handmadeincygnet.com/trail/trail-map.html

The arts trail is open 10am-4pm on both days.

The best spot to kick back and luxuriate in South Africa

An absolute beachfront boutique hotel in one of South Africa’s smartest resort towns; efficient, friendly and plentiful staff, elegant furnishings and superb food. 


The Beverly Hills Hotel, part of the Tsogo Sun group, is one the grandest hostelries in Umhlanga Rocks, KzaZulu-Natal, and was the luxury property that launched the career of global hotel magnate Sol Kerzner.

The Beverly Hills has just 89 rooms and suites, each with a private balcony and an uninterrupted view of the ocean. It is a stylish setting and one of those hotels where the staff quickly recognise guests by name. 


The award-winning hotel has become synonymous with elegance, gracious hospitality and intuitive service and boasts one of the finest hotel wine cellars in South Africa. 

When you arrive your car is swiftly and efficiently whisked away; you are checked in individually at a private desk and given a room tour. 


Facilities include complimentary wifi, a fitness centre, heated pool, a business centre, two restaurants (the buffet breakfasts and long weekend lunches are legendary here) with the option of also dining on a deck overlooking the water.

The busy port city of Durban is just a 15-minute drive, and a world, away.


This is the perfect spot to kick and relax for a few days after the excitement of exploring game reserves and excesses of the Cape cellar doors. 

To put it simply, the Beverly Hills is opulent - and given the strength of the dollar to the rand, ridiculously affordable right now. 

There is a porter service, valet service, and 24-hour room service - you get the picture. 

Signature restaurant The Sugar Club is relaxed but with very high culinary standards - and super-slick staff.

Cocktails, wines and light snacks can also be enjoyed while taking in the ocean views. You can feel your heart rate dropping. Highly recommended. 

I stayed one night as a guest of the hotel and would happily have paid with my own money to stay longer had it not been for a plane booking. 

Beverly Hills Hotel, 54 Lighthouse Rd, Umhlanga, 4320, South Africa. www.tsogosun.com/beverly-hills  +27 31 561 2211

# The writer was a guest of TogoSun Hotels 


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New wine centre to be a showpiece for the Barossa

The Barossa, Australia's leading wine-producing region, has unveiled plans for a world-class cellar and function centre to store and showcase more than 2000 dozen bottles of the region’s wines.

The Barossa Cellar project aims to showcase many of the region’s best wines at their optimal drinking age to wine industry representatives, buyers and journalists.



While the need for such a facility has been discussed by regional winemakers for several years, the project has taken significant steps forward in recent weeks and could open as soon as March, 2018.

The $4.5 million project is being driven by the Barons of the Barossa, a strangely-dressed group of influential wine industry personalities from the region, and has recently secured a major tenant and council building approval to develop the 2.8 hectare site between the townships of Tanunda and Angaston.

The Barons bought the land last year and will contribute $1 million to the project. A fund-raising campaign to raise the remaining $3.5 million will be launched next month.

The Barossa, about 70km north of the South Australian capital Adelaide, is home to many of Australia’s most famous wine brands including Yalumba, Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek.

Barossa Cellar Committee Chairman and Barossa Baron James Wark said the lease agreement signed last month with the Barossa Grape and Wine Association (BGWA) would bring the building to life and ensure the wine in the cellar would be used to maximum effect.

Wark said having the collection all in one place for the first time – rather than in various cellars around the region – would allow for consistent cellaring in “pristine” conditions and improved cataloguing and access to the wine.

“We decided that while we wanted this wine cellar, we also wanted it to be a living place and not just something that was a dormant cellar,” he said.

“What I think we’re going to be able to do is to really promote the Barossa in a fantastic new way."

Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States. South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50% of Australia’s total annual production and about 75% of the premium wine.

The Barons of Barossa formed in 1975 and built its collection from annual wine donations from local companies to store and use their best wines at functions for people who can benefit the region.

The collection of predominantly red wines has reached more than 2000 dozen and includes wines more than 20 years old from iconic Barossa wineries such as Henschke, Penfolds, Rockford, Yalumba, Greenock Creek, Peter Lehmann and Grant Burge.

Meanwhile, wine enthusiasts and collectors will have access to Barossa’s most exclusive and rare wines at the bi-annual Barossa Wine Chapters Auction next month.

Presented by BGWA and supported by Langton’s Fine Wines, wines will be auctioned online from April 7-21 and the live auction will be held at a special lunch event on Friday 21 April, 2017.

The auction will feature rare vertical collections of back vintages, as well as large format and special releases from 59 of Barossa’s most prestigious and distinguished wineries, with a total of 159 lots available online and an additional 30 lots available at the live auction. Lots are valued from $40 up to $54,000, with wine to appeal to everyone from casual wine drinkers to connoisseurs and investors.

See www.barossa.com/wine/barossa-wine-chapters-auction

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

European rail networks keep improving


Travelling by fast rail through Europe is always a pleasure. No massive toll road fees, no parking issues, no big city traffic jams.

And the launch of several new high-speed lines over the next year or two are about to make some of the most popular rail routes a whole lot easier. 

Rail Europe reports that four new train services will add to the continent's expanding portfolio of existing high-speed services, with the latest addition being the Gotthard Express in Switzerland, which started operations in December, 2016. 

Spring in France will see the services of the new Paris-Rennes line begin operation, reducing travel time between the two cities to an hour 25 minutes, reducing the trip by 30 minutes. 

Then, from mid-year, the new Paris-Bordeaux high-speed service will save travellers an hour of travelling time from the current three-hour journey. 

Over in Germany, the key cities of Berlin and Munich will be brought closer together with their new high-speed connection service scheduled to start in December. The direct connection will travel at 300kph, shortening the journey to under four hours from the current six.

Then, in 2018, Spain will introduce the world's fifth-largest, third-deepest tunnel, "Variente de Pajares", which
will link Madrid to Asturias via the cities of León, Oviedo and Gijon. Journeys on the current route will be shortened by about two hours.

Rail Europe reports that it has enjoyed an average of 7% increase in rail pass and ticket sales annually. 
www.raileurope.com.au.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Moores Hill is Tasmania's first off-grid winery

The team at Moores Hill in the Tamar Valley is celebrating building Tasmania's first off-grid winery. From vintage 2017, Moores Hill is making wine powered by the sun! 
"Our solar powered winery will enable us to make wine on site for the first time, a very exciting prospect," says co-owner Fiona Weller. "Construction is almost complete and equipment is arriving daily to start production."
The construction of the winery marks the 20th anniversary of the vineyard being planted and is a joint project with new business partners Tim and Sheena High of Native Point Wines. 

The solar system uses a 28kW solar array, comprised of 108 solar panels on the roof of the winery. There is
the ability to store power with a total battery capacity of 81kW hours using high-performance gel batteries.
"When we bought Moores Hill in 2008, there was a vineyard and cellar door but nowhere to crush grapes and make wine," says Weller. "The previous owners had the wine made under contract at an off-site winery, a common practice throughout the industry and very common in Tasmania.
But after years of sharing winery space and having wine made under contract, it was time for winemaker Julian Allport to build his own winery. 

A plan to have a simple shed installed fell through when the shed company went out of business. 

"While a kit shed would provide a more than adequate winery, we decided that a custom-designed building would not only deliver a superior aesthetic result but provide an opportunity to showcase our wines in a more engaging way, beyond a cellar door experience," says Weller.

"The winery is the first built structure visitors see when they approach at Moores Hill so it needed to create a positive initial impression and make a statement about our wine business.

"We were excited to find that a solar powered option was only 10% more expensive to install. The long-term cost-efficiency of solar power and satisfaction of using a renewable energy source to power our business made solar the more attractive option."

As vintage approaches, the news is all good. 
"The odd mix of wet weather, cool and warm temperatures has made for an interesting growing season," said Weller. "We are now enjoying a good stretch of warm weather that will see us through to a good quality harvest." 
Moores Hill Estate, 3343 West Tamar Hwy, Sidmouth, TAS 7270. (03) 6394 7649. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

How wine caused me to miss the biggest story of my career

It was a lovely evening. August 30, 1997, in Paris. We'd dined well and then stopped for a couple of glasses of wine at L'Ecluse, a wine bar a few blocks from our apartment.


We headed home sometime after midnight, a little tipsy maybe. But tipsy enough so that I had lost the most important asset a journalist has; his or her instinct. 

There was a little more traffic than usual on this particular night, and a few sirens could be heard in the distance. 

By the time we reached rue de Chaillot the traffic was gridlocked, horns were being honked with vigour and there were more and more sirens; now much closer. 

My normal instinct, as a reporter (I was a foreign correspondent/sports writer for Agence France Presse at the time), would have been to have checked out the reason for this unusual activity. 

But it was getting late. I'd had those few wines, and who would care about a car accident anyway? 

I was just three blocks walk to the Alma Tunnel, the centre of activity, but I headed for bed. And enjoyed a long sleep in. It wasn't until 11 am on August 31 that I turned on the radio and heard the news. 

The most famous woman in the world was dead; possibly murdered by the British royal family. And I'd missed the chance to be amongst the first media on the scene. 

Diana, Princess of Wales, died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the Alma Tunnel. Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul, the driver of the Mercedes-Benz S280, were pronounced dead at the scene; the bodyguard of Diana and Fayed, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor.


A white Fiat that collided with the Mercedes before it crashed was never found. And Rees-Jones could not remember the incident.  

It was believed by many that the British royal family had thought Diana was pregnant to boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and fearful of her having an Arab baby, had arranged the accident. Others said that was far fetched and a conspiracy theory. 

The car crashed at 12.23am. The first police arrived at 12.30am. Diana was removed from the car at 1am. She then went into cardiac arrest. Diana was moved to the SAMU ambulance at 1.18 am, left the scene at 1.41 am (an unexplained delay) and arrived at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital at 2.06 am. She died at 4am, by which time I was deeply asleep. 

I headed in to work the following afternoon as usual - and did not say a word about my late-night stroll home from L'Ecluse.   


   

Fancy flying from Australia to Europe for $399 one way?

Scoot is a major success story when it comes to low-cost airlines, and to celebrate its fifth birthday it is offering some incredibly low fares for a limited time only. 

The Singapore-based airline flies to a total of 59 destinations across Asia Pacific and Europe and is soon to be merged with Tigerair Singapore. Both are subsidiaries of Singapore Airlines, flying Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A320 aircraft.

"To carry 50 million passengers in such a short period is a testament to Scoot-Tigerair listening to the needs of modern travellers, cutting fares to a minimum, and allowing passengers to add on the things they need, only when they need them,” said Jared Simcox, newly appointed general manager for Scoot Australia. 

 

To share its birthday celebrations, Scoot is selling some ultra-low fares. For instance, flying Scoot in economy class to Singapore from Perth will cost from a $109 for a base fare that includes taxes. But food, baggage, and incidentals are extra.

All-inclusive ScootBiz fares start from $269 Perth to Singapore, and include, taxes, premium meal and drink, 30kg checked baggage, 15kg carry on baggage and priority boarding. 

Economy Fly (base) fares including taxes are from $149 from Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne to Singapore, and from $369 ScootBiz ex Sydney and Melbourne and $359 ex Gold Coast. 

And if you fancy a trip to Europe via Singapore how about flying to Athens (July 25-October 28) from $349 (economy base fare) ex Perth and $399 ex Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast. ScootBiz fares cost $999 ex Perth and $1049 from Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne.
















The birthday fares also include destinations like Jaipur in India for $199 one way from Sydney and Melbourne, or Cochin from $279 from the same cities. 

Other destinations on sale are Hong Kong, Phuket, Maldives, Hyderabad, Krabi, Langkawi, Ho Chi Minh, Shenzen, Hanoi, Taipei, Guangzhou, Yangon and Chiang Mai.

The sale starts 10.01am in Perth 12.01pm Brisbane and 13.01pm Syd/Mel on Wednesday, March 15 and concludes on March 18. See www.flyscoot.com/en/