De Bortoli Winery. Image courtesy of Ultimate Winery Experiences
The best time to visit wineries is in the crush season.
Autumn is the “crush season” where you’ll be treated to an atmosphere of anticipation and exhilaration as the teams work hard behind the scenes to pick, crush, press, ferment, blend and bottle (or barrel) this year’s special wines.
Many wine regions are buzzing with the excitement of vintage (a vino term meaning ‘harvest’), with the coming weeks offering the best chance for guests to witness the transformation of grapes to wine. It’s also a time to take in rolling hills and sweeping vineyards ablaze with autumnal hues of red, orange and yellow.
During the crush, winemakers analyse sugars and acids inside the maturing berries to decide upon the perfect time to begin harvest. Small samples are crushed into juice for testing, and winemakers can be seen strolling between the rows of vines, tasting the grapes and assessing their unique flavours.
With the grapes finally harvested and crushed, a palette of wine parcels, each with distinctive flavours and textures, are melded in search of balance, fullness, and finesse. It’s a fine art, requiring equal parts intuition, viticulture and chemical science, with winemakers spending years studying, practising and honing their skills.
d’Arenberg Blending Bench, McLaren Vale. Image courtesy Ultimate Winery Experiences
Learn more about the art of winemaking during hands-on experiences at d’Arenberg, Mandoon, De Bortoli and Tahbilk, all members of the Ultimate Winery Experiences collective.
The Blending Bench, d’Arenberg, SA
Live the dream of being a winemaker for a day inside the famous d’Arenberg Cube at McLaren Vale, where chief winemaker and fourth generation family member, Chester Osborn, will guide you to create your very own blend. The experience begins with a tour of the Alternate Realities Museum, before moving on to the Blending Bench, where you’ll formulate your very own original wine and take home a 750ml sample to show off to your friends.
The Perfect Blend, Mandoon Estate, WA
Challenge your palate and dig a little deeper into the world of winemaking at Mandoon Estate in WA, just 15 minutes from Perth International Airport. Explore the explore the unique characteristics of different wine varieties and how they can work together to create harmony and balance; and create the perfect wine to suit your taste. Go home with your own unique blend, complete with a personalised label.
Winemaker’s Secret Art, Tahbilk, VIC
The motto of winemaking is that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. At historic Tahbilk, in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, you’ll be guided by a Wine Ambassador to blend a series of individual wines into your very own blend. A 750ml bottle of your blend will be yours to take away. Work up an appetite and stay on to luxuriate over a 2-course lunch with a glass of wine in Tahbilk’s Wetlands’ View Restaurant.
Behind the Scenes Tour and Wine Blending, De Bortoli, VIC
Picnic in the vines. Image courtesy Printhie Wines Cellar Door Experiences
Treat yourself to an experiential adventure at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate. Immerse yourself in a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery, where you’ll learn about the viticultural practices and taste wines straight from the barrels and tanks. Indulge in a wine and food pairing in a private tasting room before enjoying a hands-on experience at the Blending Table, where you’ll create a truly unique wine with distinct flavours and textures. Bottle, name and label your own personalised sample to take home.
Even in locations where vintage has come and gone, such as the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and the Granite Belt of Queensland, the cooler temperatures and peaceful vibe of autumn is the perfect time to warm up on reds and fortified wines, and take your time exploring the historic Cellar Doors.
Plant based menu at Lona Misa Bar & Kitchen. Image courtesy of Ovolo South Yarra
Lona Misa Bar & Kitchen will officially open its doors from Friday 16th April within the new designer hotel Ovolo South Yarra as South Yarra’s only true plant-based restaurant and bar offering. A lively Latin dining experience boasting a heavily vegan menu with vegetarian options, the bar and restaurant is a collaboration between Creative Culinary Partners and Melbourne hospitality legends Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters) and Ian Curley (French Saloon and Kirk’s Wine Bar), and Ovolo Hotels.
Lona Misa moves from a daytime café to restaurant and wine bar, welcoming diners at all times of the day with a full restaurant dining experience initially from Thursday to Saturday. Home to 90 seats, the venue on all fronts is artfully combined, rich in history, unchartered in territory and designed by award-winning agency, Luchetti Krelle. The many elements of Lona Misa are nostalgic and familiar in form, delivered with a twist. From the post-modern characters in the surrounding renaissance inspired art, and quintessential chequered diner flooring reimagined in terrazzo.
With a strong focus on local produce and the freshest ingredients, the menus have been created to showcase a zero waste and sustainable approach. Leveraging both Ian and Shannon’s farm-to-table experience whilst paying homage to Shannon’s Latin roots through vegan and vegetarian dishes. Shannon will be displaying her years of dedication to vegan dining by displaying the use of personally developed techniques. Turning flour into chicharrones, soy into chicken and seaweed into fish.
The all-day menu is made up of snacks and small plates; big plates; and sides. With an entire section dedicated to The Josper – an innovative Spanish oven that grills over charcoal at a very high heat. Lona Misa is the only plant-based restaurant to be using such a technique.
OVOLO South Yarra dinner setting. Image courtesy of OVOLO
Snacks include char grilled whole baby corn with ancho chilli and coffee mayonnaise; oyster mushroom ceviche; fire roasted padron croquettas; or queso con chorizo (using a soy-based meat as the chorizo). Big plates feature Chille Relleno En Nogada (sweet roasted poblano pepper stuffed with spiced ground meat and topped with walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds); as well as Moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew cooked in a spicy coconut, tomato and lime broth, served on rice). From The Josper, try the peri peri cauliflower roasted over fire and basted in peri peri sauce; or the mushroom pinchos morunos (spiced local oyster mushrooms grilled over fire); as well as slow roasted sweet potato served on mole negro, topped with spiced mince in a cast iron pot.
Inviting you to break your fast before the all-day menu, Lona Misa’s breakfast menu features a selection of Spanish favourites such as The Full Spanish (wedge of tortilla, sofrito braised with beans, eggs your way, greens, marinated goats curd and served with pan con tomate); Huevos Rancheros (crispy corn tortillas, refried beans, fried eggs salsa roja, queso fresca) and the Breakfast Burrito.
OVOLO-Lona Misa Oyster Mushroom Ceviche. Image courtesy of the OVOLO
From kombucha on tap, to Latin inspired cocktails, the drinks program will celebrate the liveliness of La Bamba, pouring liberating libations from day to night, from garden to glass. On offer is a selection of seasonal cocktails, native G&Ts, forgotten Latin classics, cold pressed juices, and bespoke sodas. Meticulously mixed and creatively crafted using the freshest locally and sustainable sourced ingredients, inspired by the lush green gardens and vibrant botanical wonders.
On the local area inspired seasonal South Yarra Cocktail List, you will find the likes of The Pedro with Pineapple Tio Pepe Sherry, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, fresh OJ, fresh pineapple, sugar, fresh mint and seasonal berries. The Classics however serve a more paired back slice of paradise with options including the Hemingway Daiquiri with Pampero Blanco, Luxardo Maraschino, fresh lime and pink grapefruit, along with Martinez; a simple and impactful mix of Tanqueray Gin, Cinzano 1757 Rosso Vermouth and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur served with a lemon twist.
OVOLO-Lona-Misa-Chefs-Selection-scaled. Image courtesy OVOLO
An approachable wine list features a full spectrum of classics as well as lesser-known regions and varieties has been carefully tailored to compliment the chefs’ root to stem philosophy. Highlighting small growers who protect their land with minimal impact, whether through minimal intervention, organic or biodynamic practices.
For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book an incredible holiday, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager.