Wine Sense now available on KOBO!

iTunes Cover Art ws_front_cover_8_11

InkIT Publishing has opened its horizons and broke with Kindle Unlimited to now offer Wine Sense: The Art of Appreciating Wine through the KOBO Online Bookstore. For those who love reading a great ePub, love the interactivity of dynamic table of contents, internal links to direct you where you want, and being able to link to external websites as referenced, then this is the reading experience for you. Beautifully formatted, with responsive design to read perfectly on any device regardless of size, and to navigate according to your desires, Wine Sense enables you to read what you want, when you want and how you want.

Wine Sense makes a handy eBook on your IOS or Android device and eReader to check out tips on the best way to buy wine, store wine, drink wine, appreciate wine and to get the most out of every wine drinking experience. To order your copy of Wine Sense: The Art of Appreciating Wine on KOBO, click any of the previous links in this post. If you are interested in Wine Sense, but want to buy it on iTunes or Kindle, then go to the page in this website entitled Ordering Wine Sense. Happy reading and happy drinking!

Wine Sense Back Cover

Australia’s First Families of Wine

I love reading about wine family history for several reasons: the first is the inspiration I get from understanding how families sacrificed to survive and in spite of their financial troubles, they never gave up on the pursuit of making better and better wine, regardless of the cost or the hardships; the second is the intrigue and suspense on seeing if the next generation will embrace and participate in the family business.  My first entree into reading about first families of wine was Mondovino by Jonathan Nossiter, who wrote about the European first families of wine and some of the difficulties they had passing the legacy from generation to generation.  This was followed by reading The Rewards of Patience by Andrew Caillard which retells the history of Penfolds, and then by reading the great biography of Maurice O’Shea in Wine Hunter by Campbell Mattinson.  And now I am reading heart & soul: Australian’s First Families of Wine by Graeme Lofts.  All of these books are thrilling and inspirational as they talk about wine and the business of wine.

hear & soul coverI have used the terms ‘first families of wine’ a bit loosely so far in that Penfolds can no longer be considered a family-run business as they sold out to the large corporate and are now part of TWE (Treasury Wine Estates).  In Loft’s book, heart & soul, he describes 12 Australian family-owned wineries, which have had at least 20 vintages, ownership of vineyards for more than 50 years of the highest quality, and at least two and preferably three generations of family owning the business. These 12 wineries are truly Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW).  This was an initiative launched in 2009 and represent a great glimpse into the best in wine and wine history that Australia has to offer.

While these stories and each family is unique, they have similarities in the most important areas to regarding making the very best wines possible.  By reading heart & soul and the other books mentioned above, I have come to believe, in general, that family-owned wineries make better wines than corporate-owned wineries.  Of course you will be able identify some great wines made in corporate-owned wineries, but I am more and more inclined to drink wine from Australia’s first families of wine if given the choice.  Loft’s book makes this abundantly clear, and here are the reasons why:

  • Australia’s first families of wine care more about making the very best wine possible than about being a commercial success; they never cut corners to get a better-valued commercial outcome – it is all about making the finest wine possible
  • Each new generation is given the opportunity to work elsewhere, learn from the best other first families of wine around the world and bring that back home
  • Each new generation starts early in learning winemaking and this cumulatively increases the knowledge and capabilities of the family-owned winemaking and wine marketing teams to do a better job than the large corporate-owned wineries are able to do
  • They have all faced crisis and hardships often across generations, yet have survived and done what was required to survive
  • They continue to experiment, exchange ideas with others, and help the wine industry as a whole, contributing and benefiting more than corporate-owned wineries

Australia’s first families of wine have achieved commercial success as a by-product of producing the best wines available, no matter what the cost.  They do not try to optimize short-term profit if it will get in the way of producing the best wine possible.  If you want to be inspired about how to run a business, any business, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from heart & soul and the other books mentioned.  If you want insights into the passion, the pursuit of quality, literally the ‘heart & soul’ of what goes into making and appreciating a good wine, then you should pick up a copy of heart & soul and get reading!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, available now!
© 2015.  Steve Shipley. All rights reserved.
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Minnesota Meritage – seriously!

We had a fun day visiting our first ever winery in Minnesota; a great little gem of a place in Cannon Falls called Cannon River Winery.  I must admit that I was hesitant as to what we would find of wine in Minnesota, but it was a pleasent surprise.


I will be writing a series of posts on the wine industry in Minnesota.  Cannon River Winery is owned by friends of my parents and (I) having just written a wine book, my parents wanted me to visit their friend’s winery.  Cannon River Winery is only about a 40 minute drive out of the Twin Cities, mostly south on US 52.  Cannon Falls is a quaint small Midwestern town with a lot of character and the winery and cellar door right in the heart of the city with the vineyards being outside.

We learned a great deal today about the challenges of making wine in Minnesoata.  It would appear Minnesota would be similar to a lot of cold wine growing regions, but it is not.  I always knew that the Twin Cities had the highest variation of temperature from coldest to warmest seasonally, but I also found out that the daily variations can be extremely large.  Therefore, they needed to craft grapes that could deal with the local climate and both extreme hot and cold temperatures.  There is a vitaculture unit associated with the University of Minnesota that has been working for the last 30 years to create cross-bred varietals to deal with the extreme temperature fluctuations.  Therefore, there exist a number of unique grape varietals specific to the region and growers need to be approved by a state industry association.  These local grapes all start with the ‘MN’ designation.


The Minnesota winemakers need to be gifted blending several varietals into a pleasent drinking wine to provide the right balance and integration of flavors and textures.  This is no easy feat when trying to use only local grapes!  Sometimes using a bit of Shiraz or some other grape from another region can be the final piece in the puzzle to making a drinkable wine.

We tried about 15 different wines, including dry and sweet reds and whites, dessert wines and an apple wine and honey wine, and ended up buying four bottles to take along and share with our friends over the next few days.  The winemaker also spent an hour with us tasting the wines direct from the vats containing the recently harvested grapes.  These wines are still cloudy since they are unfiltered, but showed great promise and will be better than last year’s vintage.  Some of the wines were still on skins.

So there is a Minnesota Meritage which is a blend of several different grapes and quite different from Hermitage or Australian Shiraz; however, it is a very drinkable blend with a slightly sweeter taste.

I was not expecting much from Minnesota wines, but was positively surprised and going to try some more.  While not on par with the best Europe, Napa or Australia has to offer, they are very drinkable and at very reasonable prices.  If you want a great day out from the Twin Cities, you should definitely try Cannon River Winery!

I need to do some further research, but will be discussing the Minnesota varietals and the history of Minnesota wine making in the next several posts.

Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, available now!
© 2014. Steve Shipley. All rights reserved.

Eat local, drink foreign: Not for me!

There has been a trend over the last decade to eat locally produced food, representative of region and season.  This has become popular because (1) food in season and region are fresher and tastier than when transported from further away, and (2) people want  sustainable, ‘green’ food chains to protect the environment.  These ideals make sense and I embrace them.  So then why do restauranteurs and sommeliers think it is trendy to offer wine lists which are made up of foreign, obscure wines using tertiary varietals?  It does not make sense and has been overdone in my opinion.  This recent article by Huon Hooke nails it in terms of wine lists becoming ‘too’ trendy.  I don’t get the diversion in trends to eat locally and drink foreign?  I would think consumers of good food and wine would trend similarly for both their food and wine.

Wine listI live in the Hunter Valley wine region and love my local wines, especially with local food.  I also value and like access to trying wines from different regions around Australia and the world.  One of the great attractions of wine is the great diversity of styles, varietals and methods use to make wine.  But when I travel to other locations, I want to experience the best of what is on offer locally, in terms of both food and wine.  When I visited Canberra and Rutherglen recently, I want to sample Canberra and Rutherglen wines!

I remember picking up a Mexican friend at the airport in Minneapolis a long while ago.  The woman sitting next to him on the plane was from Minnesota and insisted I take him to Boca Chica’s for the best tacos around.  I thought “how stupid is this?”  My friend can get great tacos (and even better ‘real’ Mexican food) at home.  I – and more importantly he – wanted to experience food unique to the region such as Scandinavian or Swedish food, or just a good Midwestern pot roast!  The last thing my Mexican friend wanted was to eat Mexican food!  And he certainly was not interested in drinking a Dos XX beer – he wanted to try Minnesota beers.

Jim Chatto, Chief Winemaker at McWilliams Mount Pleasant and Chairman of the Judges for the Hunter Valley Wine Show last night stated that since he moved to Mount Pleasant, he removed from the restaurant wine list McWilliams wines made in other regions (McWilliams is a large multi-regional winery in Australia) to focus on local Hunter wines to go with local fare.  This makes great sense to me.  I have three favorite restaurants I visit in the area:  Bistro Molines in Hunter Valley, Paymasters Cafe in Newcastle and Two Naughty Chooks in Singleton.  Without exception, they all have great food.  Paymasters and Two Naughty Chooks offer a wine list of about 60 wines, with Bistro Molines offering twice that.  They all offer some wines outside the region and some foreign wines (especially Bistro Molines).  But all three have wine lists representing the Hunter region, at great value, and many by the glass.  I love these restaurants, not just for the great food on offer, but because the owners have put so much effort into providing local wines to match the season and local food they make.  I love eating locally and drinking locally!

Trendy, obscure, tertiary varietal wine lists with over 1,000 bottles to chose from – no thank you – to much work and too much risk.  I appreciate a restaurant where the restauranteur / owner has done the hard work for me and can offer me the best of local food and wine.

Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, due out Sept 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley. All rights reserved.
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How do we taste wine? Ask Maurice O’Shea

How do we taste wine?  How do we appreciate what wine has to offer?  As explained in my upcoming book Wine Sense, we taste wine through our senses.  The concept of taste is cross-modal, using our eyes, our nose and our mouth.  Tasting wine comes together through all the human senses.  But four senses prevail when appreciating wine.  Sight, smell, taste (specifically through our taste buds) and mouth feel.  But our sight is so predominant, it often overrules what we experience with our nose and our mouth.  This sometimes causes stimulus errors which deceive us when drinking wine.  Wine Sense teaches us how to smell and taste wine better.  It provides an understanding and techniques you can use to trust what is in your nose and what is in your mouth.  Many believe they can never achieve this, but I do and that is why I have made the effort with Wine Sense in an attempt to help you to gain trust in your nose and mouth.

Maurice OSheaMaurice O’Shea was one of Australia’s, if not the world’s, best wine makers.  He also had bad eyesight.  I am reading Campbell Mattinson’s great book on O’Shea entitled Wine Hunter.  It tells of O’Shea having just found out he cannot join the French army in WW1 because his eyesight is so bad.  Happy about this turn of events (which allowed him to study viticulture and winemaking), he shouts a nice meal out for his friends in Montpellier.  They allow the chef to prepare what he likes.  They are happy, eating and drinking, but O’Shea realizes the texture and taste of the meat to be different, even though his friends do not.  They later find out they have been eating domestic cat as meat is scarce during the war in France.

As Mattinson relates of young Maurice: “he wondered whether his taste and smell had grown more acute as his eyes had dimmed, as if his other senses had become heightened, as if his sense of smell and his sense of taste had developed into his gift.”  Mattinson goes on to describe what O’Shea learned about himself that night: “and he knew something in himself that he had not known before – he could trust his mouth.  He could trust his nose. He could feel the taste of things that others could not.”

Until you learn to trust your nose and your mouth, you will be sold wine, you will be told how to taste wine, and you will be told what you like by others.  When you learn to trust your nose and your mouth to taste wine, you then learn to truly enjoy and appreciate wine more.  And as O’Shea points out, by dimming your sense of sight, you can attune your nose and mouth more acutely.  You can learn from others, especially when drinking in the presence of others who know more about wine tasting than you do.  Learn from them, but learn to trust your nose and mouth.

Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, due out July 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley. All rights reserved.
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Presenting Wine Sense Table of Contents

I have basically finished Wine Sense and in the next few weeks Wine Sense will be in the hands of approximately ten reviewers to critique it and provide ways to make it better.  I finished the content of the book two months ago, but (1) wanted to let it rest for a while to be able to read it as a typical reader (to the best of the ability of any author to read the material they wrote!), and (2) there is a lot of work in terms of providing proper citation to other references, adding 40 images and inclusion of Top Tips and Fun Facts insets for most chapters.  Then it is onto final layout and publication.

Steve sniffing 2But the content of Wine Sense is close to complete, so I wanted to provide a deeper sense of what the book is about and why Wine Sense may be of interest to you.  Over the next few months, I will be presenting excerpts and helpful tips from the book.  First I wanted to share the Table of Contents (TOC) with you.  Just reading the TOC should provide a good overview and sense of what is in the book.

Table of Contents


Part One: Wine and the Senses

Chapter 1: Wine Enjoyment
Chapter 2: Role of Our Senses for Wine Enjoyment
Chapter 3: Philosophy of Primary and Secondary Senses
Chapter 4: Wine as an Aesthetic Experience
Chapter 5: Role of Language in Wine Appreciation

Part Two: How Wine Interacts with the Senses

Chapter 6: Overview of Wine and Sense Interaction
Chapter 7: Wine and Sight
Chapter 8: Wine and Smell
Chapter 9: Wine and Taste
Chapter 10: Wine and Feel
Chapter 11: Wine and Sound

Part Three: Enhancing Your Wine Drinking Experiences

Chapter 12: Improving Smell and Taste Sensations
Chapter 13: Improving Sight Sensations
Chapter 14: Improving Feel Sensations
Chapter 15: Improving Sound Sensations
Chapter 16: Other Ideas for Improving Your Wine Drinking Experience
Chapter 17: Buying and Storing Wine
Chapter 18: Wine Drinking Practice and Experience

Part Four: Where to Next?

Chapter 19: Tools and Systems for Managing Your Wine Inventory
Chapter 20: Further Wine Education
Chapter 21: Other References
Chapter 22: Final Thoughts


Appendix A: Castro’s Ten Descriptors of Odors
Appendix B: Robinson’s Wine Color Chart
Appendix C: Wine Database Format and Field Listing


I originally was going to write a blog post last year on why our senses were so important in appreciating wine, how they work, and how to improve using our senses to enjoy wine more.  Once the post got to 2,500 words, I decided I was going to make it a multi-part post, but by the time I got to 12,000 words, I knew it had to be a book!  The book is currently 112,000 words so it was probably a good idea to go the book route!  I am very excited to tell you more over the next few months and to get the book into your hands as soon as possible.  More posts to follow.

Please let me know what you think about the content and structure.  Any feedback is appreciated.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
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2014 grape picking underway in Hunter Valley

This should be a spectacular vintage in The Hunter Valley.  Weather has been perfect and hopefully will hold for a while longer.  The 2013 vintage was hit by torrential late-season rains that made grape picking at the optimal time difficult and yields of great grapes low.  Based on the region and grape varietal, grape picking in Australia occurs from January to April each year.  Growing seasons are obviously dictated by the annual weather patterns and type of grape involved.  We were one of the first to start picking Chardonnay at Kelman Vineyards last week.  Tyrrell’s was also picking their Chardonnay grapes for their iconic Vat 47.

My wife, DAZ in the Kitchen,  and I have noticed since we started cooking, how much more we have have enjoyed our food, regardless if we make it ourselves or are eating out.  We are more attuned to the entire process of food preparation and better understand what seasonings, flavors and processes (steaming versus boiling,  or if the meat is seared first or not for example) are involved and how to get the most enjoyment while eating.  It is similar with wine.

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In my upcoming book, Wine Sense, I discuss a number of ways to learn more about wine and have fun doing so.  Grape picking and other volunteer work around the vineyards and winery is a great way of learning while having fun!  I have always enjoyed drinking wine, but I now enjoy it more by appreciating how each step from growing and processing the grapes to bottling has influenced the quality of the final product.  Grape picking and having the grape juice on your hands and smelling the juice in its rawest form builds anticipation for what the wine will taste like.  In one sense, my bodily senses are experiencing the wine well in advance of actually drinking it.  Talk about prolonging the experience and getting maximum value from a bottle of wine!

2014-01-09 06.16.46You also learn a great deal in a very short period of time.  You learn to identify ‘ready-to-pick’ grapes versus ‘still-growing’ grapes.  You learn to identify if a bunch or a few grapes in the bunch have become ruinous and should be discarded.  You learned how stems and leaves are introduced when grape picking and some can be all right in terms of flavor and improving tannins, but you also learn not to be too picky or your grape picking productivity slows significantly!  There are processes later on to remove the stems anyway.  And you learn to start very early, 6 am in our case, before the heat overwhelms you!

Getting involved in any aspect of vineyard management or wine making is a great way to learn and appreciate wine more!  Other ideas on getting involved are presented in Wine Sense.

Kelman Vineyards is a beautiful spot in The Hunter Valley which has about 85 home owners.  It is a cooperative vineyard with grapes, olives and lemons grown under the management of a body corporate.  There are plenty of opportunities for the owners to volunteer their time from serving at the cellar door (requires an RSA), netting the vines, picking grapes, bottling olive oil and so forth and includes picking snails off the vines if you are so inclined!  I was one of many volunteer owners who helped out with the season’s first grape picking last week.  You realize what a manual process it can be, and you learn very quickly how to cut and collect bunches of grapes without snipping yourself or wasting grapes in the process.  Grape picking is also great exercise and community involvement.

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The annual grape picking and harvesting for a vintage is an annual festivity in many regions of the world with the whole community involved.  Willian Younger in his great book, Gods Men and Wine, starts out by describing the Vintage on the Douro and how year after year, the community comes together for grape picking and harvesting.  It is a festival of celebration shared by the entire community.  Kelman has recreated a localized version of that for us as owners which I find exhilarating and an educational experience.  If you want to learn more on how to appreciate wine, get involved in grape picking and other activities in the vineyard and winery.  And may sure to look for my upcoming book, Wine Sense to learn even more!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
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Origin of SAZ in the Cellar moniker

It has been almost two years and 170 blog posts since starting SAZ in the Cellar!  Thank you for your great support and interest in my opinions on the subject of wine.

I am often asked what does SAZ in the Cellar stand for and what was the meaning behind it?  I think the ‘in the Cellar’ part is pretty obvious and relates to spending time in a wine cellar.  I am a big believer that the best and best-valued wines you will drink are from your own cellar and are aged over time.  I buy wine to put in the cellar; rarely do I buy a bottle of wine for immediate consumption.  Most wine is drunk far too early and does not have the ability to reach its potential.  Therefore, I spend a lot of time in my cellar: putting wine in, selecting wine to go with an upcoming meal and monitoring my wine inventory to make sure I have the right drops aging for the next decade.  My wife calls my cellar my ‘man cave!’  Hence I thought it appropriate to think about wine from the perspective of the cellar.  My upcoming book Wine Sense present a lot of information regarding how to calculate the size of your cellar, what to put in it and how to store wine in your cellar to make sure you get the most out of it.

SAZ in the Cellar

SAZ in the Cellar

So why ‘SAZ?’  My wife had inspired me by writing her cooking and food blog DAZ in the Kitchen.  Since she was in the Kitchen and I was in the Cellar, I thought I would play off her DAZ theme and become SAZ.  I assumed DAZ meant ‘Deanna from A – Z,’ and I liked the idea of SAZ for Steve from A – Z.  Therefore I became SAZ in the Cellar and proud of my moniker!

Much later I found out that it was a common Australian country town convention to provide a nickname which used your first initial and added ‘azza’ to it.  My wife was looking for a nickname for her blog, but did not like Dazza, so shortened it to DAZ which she thought sounded better.  I still like the idea of the AZ representing the body of knowledge from A – Z, but am really glad my wife decided to ignore convention and go with DAZ instead of Dazza.  Otherwise, today I might have been Sazza in the Cellar instead of SAZ in the Cellar!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Grange makes great mouthfeel

Is Penfolds Grange worth the money?  I certainly asked that question back in 1997 when I bought my first Grange, the newly released 1992 vintage at $200 per bottle.  I was drinking some fine Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and Hunter Valley Shiraz for less than one-tenth that price.  Of a total of 4,000 bottles in my cellar at peak, I never had more than eight bottles of Penfolds Grange.  I only have one bottle of 1981 Grange left.

The question ‘is Grange worth it?,’ certainly depends on who you are and why you are drinking it.  As I have become more comfortable with drinking quality instead of drinking brand – a concept I explore in Wine Sense – I find a lot of alternatives to Grange which are far better value.  Another concept I discuss in Wine Sense is the first two things I really picked up on many years ago when starting to drink better wines: I could identify (1) good balance and (2) good mouthfeel.  Mouthfeel is what happens when wine is in your mouth and felt (not tasted via your taste buds) by your palate.  It is often most noticeable as tannins affix themselves to the inside of your cheeks.  It is also felt through the weight of the wine (due to alcohol level and how the wine has been processed) and if the wine sits comfortably in your mouth or not.

It has been two-and-a-half years since I drank my last Grange until last week.  It was the 1971 vintage which is the best Grange I have tasted.  It was a special treat as the birth-year wine for my wife’s 40th birthday.  This wine is featured in 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die by Neil Beckett. The 1971 Grange had great fruit and spice flavors, perfect balance, nuances of oak, fig and dates manifested with each swirl around your mouth, and it had great, great mouthfeel.  Given the quality of the wine and event, this Grange was well worth it!

1993 Penfolds GrangeA week ago, we had another Grange, this time the 1993.  While it was consumed as part of a standard weekend luncheon among friends, it is a bottle I gave to my friends when they were married several years ago and they insisted on waiting to drink it together with us.  We found that opportunity last week, celebrating the birth of their new son and also reuniting with some mutual friends we had not seen for a dozen years.

The 1993 Grange is not considered one of best Grange, yet it is still an outstanding wine as every Grange is regardless of vintage.  Penfolds always sources the very best grapes they can find, maintaining as much control over the quality of the grapes as they can in any given year, and year-in, year-out, Grange is made with a style that is identifiable.  I was a little worried that the 1993 Grange may be at the end or beyond its best drinking life, but the cork was in perfect condition and the wine excellent.  We decanted it for several hours to be served with a Persian beef fillet for the main course.  We had a nice Italian Chianti on arrival followed by a 2009 Hugel Alsace Riesling to go with eggplant and tomatoes and then a 2009 McLeish Reserve Chardonnay to go with chicken.  Then out came the beef and the Grange!

The wine opened beautifully and came to life during two hours in the decanter.  I had been sniffing the Grange to make sure it still had robust flavors and was ready to drink.  It had strong plum and blackcurrant flavors and that opulent Grange style.  On taking my first mouthful, it was the unique mouthfeel a Penfolds Grange provides that really struck me;  full and expansive, yet not over-the-top.  The wine and my mouth fused in perfect harmony.  The wine did not need to be paired with beef as it was paired with my tongue and cheeks perfectly!  My upcoming book Wine Sense discusses how our senses are used to appreciate and enjoy wine.  We use all of our senses from our sight to smell and taste, but also feeling and even hearing wine.  Our perception of taste is cross-modal and one of the wonderful things about tasting wine is how our senses of smell, taste and feeling come together to provide such a sensually fulfilling experience.  With Grange, you can really feel the wine.  By reputation and weight, Grange possesses strength and firmness when holding a glass of it.  But it is in your mouth that Grange shows it worth.  It may seem strange to talk about ‘feeling’ a wine, but you do feel Grange while drinking it.  It demands being held longer in your mouth than other wines to enjoy the feeling it provides.  It also demands being swallowed in several small swallows with each mouthful to make your mouth and throat muscles work, enhancing the feeling further.  If there is a wine that is enjoyed by being felt, it is Grange.

Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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New Series on Hunter Valley Hide-aways

I am constantly asked for opinions concerning the Hunter Valley.  I feel comfortable offering advice as we have a place up there, frequent it a lot, and will retire there; 60 percent of the wine I drink is from the Hunter Valley.  I get asked often to recommend off-beaten wineries from local friends and any advice on how to spend a few enjoyable days for those visiting the area.  These requests are occurring more frequently, so I thought I would take the time to record and share the information with, regardless if you ask or not!

This will be a four-part series as follows:

  1. Hunter Valley wineries
  2. Places to stay in Hunter Valley
  3. Places to eat in Hunter Valley
  4. Hunter Valley events and activities

Recognize that these recommendations represent my opinion and may not be suitable for everyone.  Also know that I do not have any commercial relationship with these places nor have I asked their input or permission prior to writing these posts.  This series represents the opinions I have been sharing privately with friends, and I am now making them public.  I am certain there are great wineries, restaurants and places to stay that I will not be mentioning.  But in the end, I can only write what I know.

View from Bistro Molines

Overview of Hunter Valley wine region:

The Hunter Valley is two hours north of Sydney, Australia by car.  It was one of the first areas in which vines were planted in Australia.  James Busby, acclaimed father of the Australian wines industry, brought vine stock from France and Spain and planted them in the 1820s in the Hunter Valley.  The Hunter Valley produces only about 2% of Australian wines, but is internationally known for their excellent Shiraz and Semillon wines.  Few regions around the world grow these grapes better than they do in the Hunter Valley.  The Hunter also produce many excellent Chardonnay wines.  The Hunter Valley houses three (McWilliams, Tyrrell’s, and DeBertoli) of the twelve First Families of Wine, which are multi-generational privately held wineries.  This is testament to how seriously the Hunter Valley takes its wine and ensuring they continue to focus on quality.

You can find out more and keep up to date with upcoming events by following the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association.

Since a trip to the Hunter Valley features wine above all, the next post will be on some of my favorite Hunter Valley wineries.  Stay tuned!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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