Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

 

Australia Wine Tour

Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture

Click here to see Photos and Videos of previous trips
 

All-Inclusive accompanied tour to Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia

13 Days - March 10 to 22, 2022 NOW BOOKING

This trip is immediately preceded by a trip to New Zealand, such that it will be possible to attend both trips, if desired, with a free day in Adelaide for the NZ contingent prior to the start of the Australia trip.

Register | Price | Itinerary

Imagine summer in the vineyards of Australia. Join wine personality Steve Thurlow as he leads an excursion of discovery and enjoyment.

Visit wineries days before harvest with the vineyards rich with ripe grapes, marvel at some of the world's most beautiful natural scenery, learn about Aussie cuisine, dine in splendid settings at wineries with their owners, and soak up the hot summer sunshine.

Experience the spectacular scenery of Victoria, South Australia and remote Western Australia, wander the streets of rural communities and shop for souvenirs.

In March, when we typically experience the depths of a Canadian winter, on the other side of the world summer is most pleasant downunder. Can you imagine the difference between -22°C and +22°C? It will be even warmer in the Barossa Valley.

Wine for Life presents an accompanied wine, food and cultural visit to Australia.

Many people think that Australia has managed the Covid-19 pandemic well. They imposed strict border controls early and, being an island nation, it was not too difficult to reduce the arrival of the virus from overseas. Controlling interstate travel also helped with borders closed from time to time.

 

So we will be able to explore the leading vineyards and wineries and be introduced to Australia's modern cuisine while enjoying the warmth of Aussie hospitality.

This tour will visit the three major wine regions of Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia and will include many of the top producers of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz.

We will also encounter another ten or so varieties commonly grown in Australia. There will be an opportunity to meet some of the leading winemakers and taste their wines.

This trip offers a unique opportunity to experience first hand this bountiful wine producing country.

With a few exceptions, like for those participating in the Australian Open Tennis Competition, only Australian residents were allowed entry and they had to spend time in secure quarantine in hotels on arrival and then test negative before entering the general population.

The few cases that did occur in the population were not allowed to spread by enforcing local lockdowns, intensive testing and extensive multi-layer contact tracing.

So there have been very few deaths and no outbreak has yet got out of control.

Life has largely proceeded as normal with the exception of most international travel for residents and no external tourists being allowed in.

They are expecting to start vaccinations in late February and hope to have all who want to be vaccinated done before the end of the year.

As a consequence it seems likely that this tour can be operated safely next year and that any restrictions on the entry of non-residents will have minimal impact.

 

 

As well as tasting and dining at many wineries, we will find time to visit some of the major tourist sites. We will be staying in hotels in Adelaide, Melbourne, Mornington and Margaret River.

If all this sounds like too hectic a pace, don't worry. There will be time for relaxing by the pool in the warm sunshine and wandering around some of the beautiful cities and towns that one can find downunder.

 

We will also check out the wildlife such as seals, parrots, koalas and kangaroos.

 

 

Register for Tour

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com and he will send you a registration form.

A deposit of C$800 is required to register for the trip.

This deposit is fully refundable until 120 days prior to the trip when, it then becomes non-refundable and payment for the trip in full is required.

Price

The price for the 13 day trip to Australia is C$7595 per person.

The all-inclusive trip price assumes double occupancy and does not include any air transportation.

Guests will make their own travel arrangements including the two internal flights. We will be pleased to advise with all air travel if requested.

We will meet at the hotel in Adelaide and disperse at Perth airport 13 days later.

The price includes all hotels, 11 continental breakfasts, winery visits and tastings, and 15 meals with wines mostly selected by Steve. Also included is the cost of coach transportation when we are not flying between destinations.

Many airlines fly to Australia with connecting flights to Adelaide and home from Perth.

Once in Perth, some will be flying home eastward and some will be flying the opposite way around the world since in Perth it is about the same flying time to Western North America whichever way you fly.

This trip is therefore an opportunity for those with "flying round the world" on their bucket list, to tick off that item, by arriving from the east in Adelaide and continuing westward to get home from Perth.

The required two internal flights from Adelaide to Melbourne and from Melbourne to Western Australia that are to be added to the international schedule will be specified to those registered on the trip.

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Itinerary 2022

Included meals. B= Breakfast, L= Lunch and D= Dinner

Day 1: Thursday March 10th, 2022 - Adelaide, South Australia

We are all scheduled to arrive this day in Adelaide and rooms will be reserved for us at the The Stamford Grand Adelaide for the next four nights.

The hotel is on the beach at Glenelg, a seaside suburb of Adelaide a short distance from the airport.

Steve, who will be accompanying the group from New Zealand, will arrive there late in the evening.

There are no group activities planned for this day and no meals are included in the trip price.

 

Day 2: Friday - Adelaide

This will be a free day for rest and relaxation for all after the previous days of international travel. It will give us all time to settle in to our new surroundings.

Some will no doubt see each other at breakfast, or on the beach or relaxing in the hotel or by the pool.

We will formally gather in the evening in the hotel lobby and then take a short walk to a nearby restaurant for our first group dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

As we stroll along the seafront we will watch the sun set over the ocean. We will soon be at Glenelg marina which is surrounded by restaurants and bars.

After dinner we will walk back to our hotel. (B,D)

Day 3: Saturday - Adelaide

We leave this morning to visit the suburbs of Adelaide.

We first head east into the Adelaide Hills taking in great views of the city and the ocean beyond.

We should arrive at Cleland Wildlife Park around an hour after leaving the hotel.

We will spend a couple of hours here seeing up close many of the birds and animals that inhabit the Australian outback.

 

 

 

Once back on the bus we will soon be at the Penfolds historic Magill Estate in the eastern part of Adelaide.

 

 

 

This estate and vineyard were established in 1844 by Dr. Penfold.

It is here where Penfold's Grange is created each year and matured in these barrels until release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will see the cottage on the estate where Dr. Penfold lived which is now preserved as a museum to life in the colony in its earliest days.

 

After a tasting of some of Australia's finest wines we will take lunch at the winery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We return late afternoon to our hotel on the beach at Glenelg.

The evening is free to explore the seaside town of Glenelg. (B,L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4: Sunday - Barossa Valley

We leave the hotel this morning for the 1.5 hour drive north to the Barossa Valley where we will visit the Jacob's Creek winery for a tasting and lunch.

 

 

After lunch, if there is time, we may challenge each other in an optional wine blending exercise.

We will soon be on our way driving a little further north to see more vineyards in the area before arriving at the Wolf Blass winery.

There will be a sitdown structured tasting of some of their premium labels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be back in our hotel late afternoon with some free time before dinner.

We will meet in the lobby and walk together to a local restaurant for dinner together. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Monday - Melbourne, Victoria

We checkout of the hotel this morning and leave for the airport for the short flight to Melbourne.

We will soon be at our hotel in the city centre, Stamford Plaza. We will spend 2 nights here.

The balance of the day will be free for exploring the city and finding a bite to eat for lunch.

Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, is the coastal capital of the state of Victoria. It is about ten minutes walk from our hotel to Federation Square, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River.

Just across the river from there is the Southbank area and the Melbourne Arts Precinct which is the site of Arts Centre Melbourne – a performing arts complex – and the National Gallery of Victoria, with Australian and indigenous art.

So there is much to see and do closeby.

We gather in the evening in the hotel lobby and will then walk together to a nearby restaurant.

Tonight's winemaker dinner will be hosted by a local winery. (B,D)

 

 

Day 6: Tuesday - Yarra Valley

After breakfast we leave our hotel this morning to visit the Yarra Valley viticultural region about an hour's drive to the east.

This relatively cool area is known for its pinot noir and chardonnay wines, though both the wineries we will visit have vineyards elsewhere in Victoria in warmer regions for cabernet sauvignon, syrah and other varieties.

Steve Webber, winemaker at De Bortoli, is part of the third generation to run this winery founded in 1928.

 

The vines will be heavy with rich ripe plump grapes since it will soon be harvest time.

Nets are placed over the vines to keep birds from eating them.

We will visit two wineries for a brief tour and tasting at each and also having lunch at the second.

It will soon be time to return to our hotel.

 

The balance of the afternoon and the evening will be free to continue explorations of the city. (B,L)

Day 7: Wednesday Mornington Peninsula

We checkout of our hotel after breakfast for the drive to the Mornington Peninsula viticultural region which lies just over an hour's drive to the southwest of Melbourne.

This is another cool climate region with the narrow peninsula surrounded by water on three sides keeping it cool. Additionally it is quite hilly with a ridge running down the centre rising to about 800 feet above sea level.

The soils are also quite varied so as a consequence there are many small individual unique vineyard sites.

We will soon be at Port Philip Estate in Red Hill. The estate is owned by the Gjergja family. The vineyard here was planted in 1987 mostly to pinot noir and chardonnay with small parcels of shiraz and sauvignon blanc.

Another vineyard at Kooyong established in 1995 closer to the ocean was acquired by the Gjergja family in 2004.

All the wines are made at the red hill site which also houses the tasting room and a restaurant.

We will make a short visit to the winery and taste wines under the the Kooyong and Port Philip labels.

Though it will be tempting to linger a little longer at this beautiful estate we will move on to the nearby Montalto Estate.

Their vineyards lie in a bowl below the winery and tasting room.

They have been producing award winning wines from pinot noir and chardonnay and other varieties for years and moreover their restaurant is highly praised especially for its use of ingredients from their own kitchen garden.

We will make a brief tour and tasting and then take lunch on the terrace overlooking the estate's vineyards.

It will soon be time to continue our journey to the sea.

Within 15 minutes we will be at Flinders ready to checkin to our hotel for the next two nights.

The Flinders Hotel lies near the southeastern promontory of the Mornington Peninsula.

A short walk from the hotel, that is in the middle of the village, offers sea views of the distant Philip Island.

There will be free time in the afternoon for exploring our new surroundings.

There are several spots for dinner in the town as well as the hotel's own restaurant.

So enjoy an evening off in this peaceful backwater. (B,L)

Day 8 Thursday - Mornington Peninsula

We will leave the hotel after breakfast to continue visiting wineries in the area.

We will soon be at Morning Sun Vineyard where I captured the photo to the right when I stayed there in March 2020. It was taken at 7 am just as the sun was rising.

By the time we get there it will be in full sunshine and they will be open for tasting.

There is a large olive grove on the estate planted with four different varieties of olive. We will sample these and many will buy a small bottle or two to take home.

 

Our next stop will be at T'Gallant wines now part of Treasury Wine Estates.

T’Gallant is the sailor’s abbreviation for topgallant, the top sail of square-rigger sailing ships.

In 1994 the founders of the estate bought a ten acre apple orchard and planted it with pinot grigio. They recognized the coming importance of pinot gris/grigio.

T’Gallant is built on a tradition of two pinot varieties – grigio/gris and noir – ideally suited to the character of the maritime Mornington Peninsula.

 

 

Our visit will include tasting both pinots along with some of the excellent pizza made in their Roman style wood-fired pizza oven.

After our al-fresco lunch we will return to our hotel for some down time before our evening activities.

 

 

 

Late afternoon we will leave the hotel for the short drive to the Ten Minutes by Tractor Estate winery.

The winery started in 1997 when three family-owned vineyards, all ten minutes by tractor apart, joined together to make wine.

Martin Spedding, the owner, will tell us about the winery's history and demonstrate during the tasting how the many different vineyard sites contribute to the complexity of his wines.


The tasting will be followed by dinner in the winery restaurant prepared by executive chef Adam Sanderson with wines, herbs and vegetables from the estate.

All of the meat, seafood and other ingredients are sourced locally.

 

The restaurant is just an extension of the cellar door. It’s an opportunity to learn more about our wines and how those wines can be enjoyed with great food. It’s also an opportunity for us to bring the produce of the region together into an environment in which everyone can relax, and enjoy, and to understand what makes the Mornington Peninsula as special as it is.” Martin Spedding.

After dinner we return to our hotel. (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 9: Friday - Mornington Peninsula

We checkout of our hotel this morning and head back to Melbourne.

En route we will visit the Paringa Estate founded by Lindsay McCall.

In 1984, Lindsay, a geography teacher at the time, bought an old north-facing orchard. A year later, after clearing it, he began planting the ten-acre property with vines. He sought advice on planting shiraz in the region, but was told by a local vigneron that it would not ripen in the cool maritime climate of the Peninsula.  Not to be deterred, he planted it in the warmest spot.

In 2007, the teacher who had no formal training in wine was awarded the “Best Winery in Australia,” in the James Halliday Wine Companion.

We will make a short visit to the winery and taste some of Lindsay's wines including his shiraz.

We will get back on the road stopping at Yabby Lake for a tour and tasting followed by lunch.

 

 

 

The winery is one of the largest in the area and sits at the centre of a large estate. It is owned by the Kirby family.

Tom Carson, General Manager and Winemaker, will show us briefly around the winery before we taste his wines followed by lunch on the lawn in front of the cellar door. This will be a leisurely visit and we may linger a while enjoying the beautiful location.

 

However it will soon be time to leave to continue our return journey to Melbourne.

The final phase of our tour takes us to the Margaret River viticultural region of Western Australia. There is a three hour time difference between there and Victoria.

Flights take around 4 hours so with the time difference you get there one hour after you leave.

When I was initially planning this trip we were to fly from Melbourne to Perth and then take a bus for 4 hours to Margaret River which would have consumed most of a day.

However there is good news in that Jetstar will begin flying a direct route from Melbourne to the Margaret River airport in Busselton in June 2021.

Assuming that a Jetstar flight is available, we will fly this route on Saturday. There is a downside in that the planned flight will depart at 8:05 am. It arrives four hours later at 9:05 am in the Margaret River area.

To make life more tolerable we will spend Friday night at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel where we can walk from the hotel to the Jetstar terminal in the morning. There is a shuttle for those who would prefer not to walk.

We will arrive at our Melbourne airport hotel late afternoon. The evening will be free to relax and rest and find something to eat either at the hotel or in the airport.

[If for some reason a direct flight is not available we will fly this evening and stay overnight near Perth and then travel by bus the next day to Margaret River] (B,L)

 

 

Day 10: Saturday - Margaret River

Up early this morning to catch our flight to Margaret River. Food will be available on the plane as well as in the airport before we leave.

On arrival we will meet our bus driver. It is about a 40 minute drive to our first stop the Evans and Tate winery.

John Evans and John Tate started planting vines in Wilyabrup, in the heart of Margaret River, in 1974. In 2017 it became part of the Fogarty Wine Group.

Matt Byrne has been Senior Winemaker since 2001 and when I was last there he generously let me taste over 20 of his wines.

Today there will be a short tour followed by a a much smaller selection of his best wines for us to taste.

We will soon be on our way to our next stop, the Vasse Felix Estate, which is only a 5 minute drive.

This was the first winery to be established in Western Australia in 1967 by Dr Tom Cullity.

‘Naturaliste’ and ‘Geographe’ were two ships in the Baudin Expedition, undertaken by the French to map the coast of Australia (New Holland) from 1800-1803. The expedition was the first to discover the south-west coast of Australia, arriving from Mauritius in the peak of winter.

Disaster struck on 8 June 1801 when the Naturaliste’s Assistant Helmsman Thomas Timothèe Vasse was swept up by the waves and thrown into the ocean. While originally thought to have drowned, rumours of Vasse’s circumstances emerged in the following years. His became one of the most curious nautical stories in French and Australian history.

Was he lost to the wild ocean, or did he wash ashore and live with the local indigenous community? Did he grow old in Australia or was he picked up by an American crew, taken to England and imprisoned? It became a highly publicized story in French Journals. The public was divided. What happened to the unfortunate Vasse? I like to think that he was lucky and had a long life.

Anyway the winery is named Vasse Felix (lucky or happy) in his honour.

The winery has been owned by the Holmes a Court family since 1987 and the focus today is on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay reflecting the strength of the region.

 

 

 

Virginia Willcock has been Chief Winemaker since 2006.

We will take lunch here and sample some of her award winning wines.

After a leisurely lunch we leave for our hotel which is about 40 minutes drive away on the beach near Cape Naturaliste, also named after the famous French survey ship.

 

Our base for the next three nights is the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. We should be there around 16:30.

After our long day it will be time for a relaxing evening, settling in to our new surroundings.

The balance of the day is free. (L)

 

Day 11 Sunday - Margaret River

We leave our hotel after breakfast to visit Domaine Naturaliste, about 40 minutes drive to the south. Here Bruce Dukes crafts his award winning wines. After a brief tour and tasting we will soon be on our way to our next stop about 30 minutes drive further south.

Xanadu Wines is another of the region's founding wineries. It was established by Dr John Lagan when he planted the vineyard in 1977; one of the region’s earliest vineyards.

Literary scholars among you will know that Xanadu was Samuel Coleridge’s mysterious, idyllic, exotic city that was the home of Kubla Khan. Dr Lagan believed the region to be like Coleridge’s vision of utopia and hence named the vineyard Xanadu.

 

The winery was purchased by the Rathbone family in 2005 at which time Glenn Goodall was appointed Senior Winemaker.

I took this photo of Glenn when I first met him in 2013.

This family-owned winery has won the title of Australia's Best Cabernet many times and has also won the award of Australia's Best Chardonnay.

After a brief tour and tasting we will sit down together to enjoy lunch with some of his wines.

After lunch we return to our hotel for some downtime before the evening's activities.

 

Early evening we leave the hotel for a 5 minute drive to the Eagle Bay Brewing Company. This will be a relaxing and informal evening with their handcrafted beers, wine and modern Australian cuisine.

 

 

Head Chef Rupert Brown has a strong commitment to using local produce especially that from his kitchen garden. They work with some of the Margaret River region’s finest producers but also have access to seasonal herbs, vegetables and citrus plucked fresh from their orchard and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are known for excellent pizza from their wood fired oven and always have at least six of their beers on tap available as well as many wines from their Eagle Bay Vineyard. (B,L,D)

Day 12 Monday - Margaret River

A leisurely start today as we leave the hotel mid-morning to visit Stella Bella Wines which lies at the heart of the wine region.

 

 

 

I first met Chief Winemaker Luke Jolliffe in 2013 during my first visit to the region. This was shortly before he was appointed Chief Winemaker.

He joined the winery in 2007 and has been a major factor in its success ever since.

During our short visit there will be a brief tour followed by a tasting of some of his wines.

 

We then move to Robert Oatley Wines which has one of the most elegant tasting rooms in the region.

It is surrounded by exotic gardens including a large rose garden which is well worth a visit.

We will enjoy their wines over an informal lunch of shared platters.

 

 

Our final group dinner will be at our hotel on the terrace with a view over the indian Ocean. We will reprise some of our favourite wines from Western Australia with the meal.(B,L,D)

Day 13 Tuesday March 22nd, 2022 - Perth

After breakfast we checkout of our hotel for the journey by bus to Perth airport where we will arrive less than 4 hours later.

Some will have chosen to stay for a while longer in this part of Australia and to see this modern city, so our bus, after dropping most at the airport will head into the city centre.

Some will be flying home eastward and some will choose to fly the opposite way around the world, since in Perth it is about the same flying time to eastern North America whichever way you fly.

This trip is therefore an opportunity for those with "flying round the world" on their bucket list, to tick off that item. (B)

 

 

Register for Tour

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age range of the group?

These tours appeal to a wide range of ages, since we can love wine, food and travel at all stages of life. Typically the range is from 30 to 70 though we have had some older and younger than this join in the past.

Do you need to be a wine/beer connoisseur to participate?

Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment, of the beer, wine, food, culture and history of the region. You will certainly return home with a greater appreciation of wine. I have been told it is impossible to spend so many days traveling with me without learning more about how wine is made and enjoyed with food.

Is the trip price really all-inclusive?

Almost all costs other than souvenirs, an occasional cup of coffee and maybe a slice or two of pizza are included and a few meals. I frequently hear that there is too much wine and too much food such that, during free periods, people don’t need to eat or drink anything else.

These trips seem to be very reasonably priced, what is the catch?

I only run a few trips per year to places to which I would be going anyway; so why not take a few others along with me? These trips are not a fundamental part of what I do in life and so I price them reasonably so all can afford to join. Additionally I receive sponsorship subsidies from wine regions and wineries who are keen to show off to my guests their splendid products and services in the hope that they will spread the word.

We have never traveled with a group before; will there be enough free time?

I used to dislike traveling on buses with groups and also found I needed time away from the group. Consequently we have frequent stops to do stuff when we are traveling by bus plus the schedule has lots of free time built in. Moreover nothing is compulsory, people sometimes take a day off to enjoy life away from the group.

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Conditions

The above itinerary is as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at similar standard hotels in the resorts mentioned. Prices are for double occupancy in twin and double rooms (single supplement available on request). Hotels subject to availability.

The all-inclusive tour price includes all ground transportation in Australia, all hotel accommodation, 11 breakfasts (continental) and 15 meals (most with wines selected by Steve Thurlow) but does not include the cost of the visa for Australia. The price also includes the entrance fee to Cleland Wildlife park.

This price is correct at present but could change as a result of major currency variations, taxation changes or other circumstances beyond our control. It is unlikely for there to be an increase and you are guaranteed that, if necessary, it would be less than 7%.

Other conditions apply. These are detailed on all Uniglobe Wine for Life invoices and can be supplied on request prior to booking.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel Ltd
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380