Browsing articles in "wine festivals"
Dec 18, 2014
Terri Judson

German cities dressed for Christmas- Frankfurt, Koblenz, Trier, Heidelberg …

FRANKFURT December 18, 2014–If you’ve never experienced European Christmas markets, you have missed out on some of the most fun and festive places to visit during the holiday season. Here are six German cities that should be on your must see wish list to make your Christmas dreams come true.

The cities include Frankfurt, Koblenz, Trier, Heidelberg, Rüedesheim, and Wiesbaden. Typically, the markets are set up about three weeks prior to Christmas in one or more locations around town. They go all out with colorfully lit, festive wooden huts selling everything from locally made handicrafts and decorations, and, oh my gosh, the food! Bratwurst on crispy rolls with spicy mustard, potato pancakes with applesauce, flavored candied almonds and…well, you get the idea. So, let the celebration begin!

Koblenz

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Koblenz is a good place to start your trip as it is a short train ride from the Frankfurt Airport. Situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosell Rivers, this city has a history dating back 2000 years starting from when it was a Roman settlement. This is vividly captured in a sculpture located within a fountain in the center of the Görresplatz. The 10 meter pillar depicts the history of Koblenz starting with the Romans (bottom of the sculpture) and moving up through the Crusades, the French Revolution, the Second World War, and up to present day. In another quarter, there is also a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I triumphantly riding on horseback.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The Christmas market, located in the old quarter, had 130 wooden huts and extended from the Church of Our Lady to various other squares. Dusk is one of the best times to visit these markets. The sky turns cobalt blue and all the lights come on in the booths illuminating merchants and customers in a warm glow.

These markets are not just for visitors, as friends and family use them to meet up and enjoy each other’s company over a hot cup of Glühwein. Probably known better as mulled wine here in the U.S., Glühwein is usually red wine mixed with various spices and served hot. This is just the thing to warm you up during a crisp winter’s eve and a good starting point for exploring the markets.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

If you are visiting at any other time of the year, there are walking and bus tours, boat trips down the Rhine and Mosell and a number of interesting attractions in and around the city. Not to be missed would be the cable car ride to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress that overlooks the town and the Kauf-und Danzhaus (now an art museum). The exterior clock of the latter has a face of the Eye Roller, which commemorates the robber baron Johann von Kobern. At certain times of the hour, he also sticks out a red tongue.

Trier

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

One nice thing about Germany is that trains are always close and efficient. Your next rail stop would be to Germany’s oldest city, the town of Trier. Once the Roman imperial residence, Trier is located on the Mosell River and close to the Luxembourg border.

The impressive Porta Nigra (Black Gate) was constructed by the Romans as the city gate. It is the largest such gate north of the Alps and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Fortunately, most of the shopping areas and beautifully adorned Christmas markets are located just beyond the gate’s entrance. The medieval backdrop of the Hauptmarket Square was one of the more beautiful you will ever see. There are around 95 decorated huts, each serving up food and crafts as well as a glimpse into Germany’s rich heritage.

During the day, take time to explore the Imperial Throne Room built by Constantine in 310 AD and the oldest bishop’s church (Dom St. Peter) north of the Alps. Then, take a tour of the well preserved Roman baths from the 4th century. These were ingeniously constructed with underground service tunnels and even a boiler to provide hot running water.

Heidleberg

Located due south of Frankfurt, Heidelberg should be the next stop on your yuletide route. Old and modern might be a good way to describe this city and they are both integrated into the town’s infrastructure. Pedestrian paths with cobblestone streets line the main shopping areas with church steeples and a towering city gate still majestically guarding the entrance to the town.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The 12th century Heidelberg Castle is perched on a hill above the city and is a great place to get a bird’s eye view of the entire town. The castle was destroyed in earlier days but the ruins are well preserved and colorfully lit for the holidays. After a short funicular ride, you can stroll the grounds and view the world’s largest wine cask, which was apparently enough to keep 5,000 guests and castle dwellers in, shall we say, good spirits.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The large Christmas market here spreads out over several squares. Assuming you still have room in your suitcase, you will have a huge assortment of items to purchase, both from the individual stalls as well as from retailers lining the streets.

Heidelberg is also a romantic city. Tucked away on one of the side streets at Haspelgasse 16 is a tiny shop called the Café Knösel. Still in operation after generations, they sell a wonderful chocolaty, cookie item called a Student Kiss. Students would purchase these for the objects of their affection back in the day with hope for future romance.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Other sights that should be on your must-see list while here include the Old Bridge spanning the Neckar River built by Prince-Elector Carol Theodor in the late 1700s as well as the Student Prison. Yes, you heard right. Any minor infraction would land students of Ruprecht-Karls University in what amounts to a modified detention for a few days—at their convenience, of course. Today, you can tour the jail and view the artwork created by the guests that adorn the walls and ceilings.
Frankfurt

Another quick train will take you back to Frankfurt, a bustling metropolis and an important financial center of Europe. It is also a pedestrian friendly city with much of the downtown area fully accessible on foot.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The city is truly remarkable in terms of its diversity and a blending of old and modern architecture. You can do some serious shopping at the sprawling MyZeil shopping mall and walk to the top deck where you can get a commanding view of the city skyline. This is most vibrant at dusk when all the colored lights of the skyscrapers come to life and provide a perfect photo op.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

In addition to the shopping opportunities, there are numerous restaurants and pubs serving traditional German fare as well as a local favorite beverage—apple wine. This is a fermented apple beverage and something you should try. If you are used to something a bit sweeter, you can have them add some flavored soda. (Fanta® seemed to be the preferred choice.)

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Frankfurt has one of the oldest (1393) and largest Christmas markets in the country. With more than 200 stalls, this one is the granddaddy of them all. Although it was a bit crowded, that just seemed to add to the festive atmosphere and you’ll never have any trouble sidling up to the counters to buy something to eat or take back home. One booth offered 75 flavors of candied almonds while another had humongous chocolate-covered pretzels. If you go home hungry from here, it’s your own fault.

Rüedesheim

From a large city to a small town, Rüedesheim is as cozy, charming and picturesque as any town you are likely to find in Germany. Located in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, the area is known for its wine growing and vineyards. But, as with most places, there is much more to see and do here. You can explore nature by walking along many excellent and scenic hiking trails that overlook the Rhine, visit ancient castles and sample some of the finest Riesling and pinot noir wines in the region.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The town’s meandering lanes look like something out of a fairy tale with half-timbered houses, hidden courtyards and small hotels and eateries. Here, you can make arrangements to actually sleep in a large wine barrel (cozy but more spacious than you might think)!

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Of course, all that sightseeing might make you hungry so plan on stopping at At Bruer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss for lunch. Owner Susanne Breuer makes every guest to her hotel/restaurant feel like one of her family. She insists on only providing the best in fresh, local ingredients for her meals. The seasonal lamb here that is tender and delicious, and a good choice if available. Make sure you also try the Rüedesheim coffee, a local specialty that you won’t want to miss—even if you aren’t a coffee drinker!

The Christmas Markets of the Nations are placed in the old quarter of the town and feature 120 stalls from the traditions of 12 countries. Here, you will find jam made of cloudberries from Drosselgasse, a Mongolian yurt tent and Europe’s largest Nativity scene.

Wiesbaden

Wiesbaden should be the last stop on your whirlwind Christmas tour. Known for its spas, it is one of the oldest spa towns in Europe. With 26 hot springs originally used by the Romans, it is still a sought after destination for its health resorts, parks and gardens, musical concerts, wine festivals, and Twinkling Star Christmas Market.

The old quarter of the town was designed in the shape of a pentagon. The oldest building located there is the Old Town Hall, constructed between 1608-1610. On the northern side of the square is the palace of the dukes of Nassau, once used as the residence of Kaiser Wilhelm II. A stroll through here is a stroll back in time.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Trendy shops and cafes line the streets adjacent to the main square, and you will want to make sure you bring your camera to capture the grandeur. One of the pictures you will want is the Market Church clock that towers 98 meters above the town and chimes out the time every quarter hour. Guided tours are held all year round.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Another curiosity is located on Kaiser Frederick Square which boasts what they call the world’s largest cuckoo clock. The façade is indeed a cuckoo clock and the story goes that the owner wanted more business after the war so in 1946, he constructed the façade to bring in American GI’s who had plenty of dough to spend.

The Sternschnuppenmarket (twinkling lights market) is set in Schlossplatz Square against the old and new city halls. Even the lights are shaped like the city’s coat of arms as the residents are clearly proud of their city and its rich history. Hand blown glass, items made from olive wood and sweet temptations are offered by friendly local merchants, many of whom speak English.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

While the holidays and Christmas markets are some of the best times to visit Germany, this certainly shouldn’t keep you from coming at any time of the year. There are tours and special offerings during the spring and summer months, including cruises down the river, cycling, museum visits, and a host of other activities.

If you do decide to visit the Christmas markets, the time to start booking your visit is now as hotel space becomes more limited during this season. From Frankfurt Airport, there are trains, rental cars and taxis that will take you to magical places that you may have thought only existed in fairy tales.

Where to stay:

Koblenz
Ghotel Hotel Living (www.ghotel.com) Modern, sleek and efficient.

Trier
Mercure Trier-Porta Nigra (www.accorhotels.com) Modern and right across from the Black Gate.

Heidleberg
Hip-Hotel (www.hip-hotel.de/en/) Amazing theme hotel. Down Under room has furniture on ceiling.

Wiesbaden
Crown Plaza Hotel (www.crownplaza.com) Centrally located near main squares.

For more information about Germany visit:

Historic Highlights of Germany
www.historicgermany.travel/
FTC Disclosure: All of the hotels, meals, attractions, and product review were sponsored by the German National Tourist Office and their partners.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities Digital News, LLC. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Dec 17, 2014
Terri Judson

Chamber of Commerce elects three directors

WILLCOX — The Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture held its annual meeting Thursday at the Brass Rail, where nearly 50 people gathered to review the past year and honor several of the area’s businesses and citizens.

Chamber Executive Director Alan Baker gave his annual report, as did Board President Brenda Haas, prior to members electing three new Board directors.

Haas and the Board nominated Katie Hill of Encore Dance Academy, Bo Downey of Marshal Bo’s Mercantile and Judy Whitman “Dallas” Downey as new board members. 

Haas asked for a vote from the members, at which point LaDonna Burgess asked if there would be a call for nominations from the floor. 

Haas called for nominations from the floor and Burgess nominated Cindy Traylor and RaeAnn Kiesling as board members. Ruth Graham seconded the nominations.

Baker said he did not believe Burgess could nominate board members, as he did not think she was a member of the chamber. 

Burgess said she was a paid member and had a receipt and Baker did not question further at that time.

After a discussion on how to take the vote, Haas told the members to vote on a piece of paper for three of the five candidates – one vote per business or individual member.

Twenty-one ballots were returned, with the following results:

Katie Hill – 15

Bo Downey – 14

Judy Whitman “Dallas” Downey – 14

Cindy Traylor – 11

RaeAnne Kiesling – 9

Outgoing Board directors are Juanita Buckley and Bob Cutlipp. 

Baker said Haas is staying on another year, but not as president.

During the year, Richard Trepanier and Gary Clement resigned. 

Other current  directors are Cheryl Moss, Scott Dahmer and Kimberly Lockhart. The executive board members for 2014 are Haas as president, Ron Bastian as treasurer and Baker as secretary. 

Bastian will remain treasurer. A president will be elected at the January meeting.

Previously there were 12 directors on the board, with staggered three-year terms, with four elected annually.

 

Annual report

In his annual report, Baker said the visitor center has hosted 17,800 visitors this year so far, slightly lower than the norm of about 20,000. But he said the gift shop sales have increased by about 15 percent. 

He said the Chamber hosted 11 travel writers from as far away as China, Spain, France, England and Germany, resulting in articles in Forbes travel guide, USA Today, True West Magazine and more. The Chamber attended the KJZZ Travel Show in Phoenix and worked with others to hold the Willcox Flyer Bike Ride, two wine festivals, Rex Allen Days and the Friends of Marty Robbins Tribute to Marty Robbins. 

As part of the Cochise County Tourism Council, Baker said, “we have worked together with the other communities and the county and through a public relations firm, AZ Communications, which has been promoting the area and reworking the Web site, Explore Cochise.”

In economic development, Baker said the Chamber has been working on several projects:

• Boeing, which, Baker said, was “awarded the contract (to supply the commercial shuttle) for NASA and is in the process of finishing up with them and is planning on beginning in 2015.”  

• Red Horse 2 Wind Farm, which is in the process of being built along with a solar array. 

• Excelsior Mining and other mining projects occurring in the area.

• The Chamber  worked with the City of Willcox to clean up the burned motel on Haskell Avenue. 

• The Chamber responded to the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Prospect Information Request. 

Legislatively, the Chamber:

• Supported Arizona GT (and the AEPCO power plant) with the proposed EPA regulations they are facing.  

• Supported the Alcohol Omnibus bill, which helped the Arizona wine industry. 

• Supported area ranchers in the wolf reintroduction program. 

• Worked with other chambers in the state on the sales tax legislation, the Transaction Privilege Tax, which will support local businesses.

Baker said the Chamber will hold its usual events in 2015, as well as   adding a Chuckwagon Cook-Off in May to support the Centennial of the town’s incorporation.

The Chamber is also working on a plan for clean-up of Haskell Avenue, Baker said the Chamber will continue to work with the mining projects in the area to provide contracting opportunities for Chamber members. He said, “AMIGO, a mining clearing house, membership will be extended to all of the Chamber members, meaning that the Chamber’s Membership in AMIGO is your company membership. We expect that those companies will be in operation between 2016 and 2018.”

The Willcox Chamber “will continue to be involved with Arizona Town Hall, Arizona Association of Economic Development, and local, state and federal agencies to improve the local economy.”

“Thank you so much for letting us help you and your business, or organization with whatever you have going on. I know that I speak for the whole staff in saying that we love what we do,” Baker said, adding, “Looking to the future, we will be continuing to work on creating Willcox and Cochise County as a place to visit.”

Haas, in her report as president, said, “It’s great to have this turnout here at our annual meeting. I’ve had a great year. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve met a lot of great people, but I’m not doing it again next year,” she joked about her year as president. “We hope to have a lot of participation and support from the community in 2015.”

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Dec 15, 2014
Terri Judson

New winery joins Greeley’s craft brewers and distillers

From grapes to barrels to eventually sleek wine bottles in a cool rack on the wall, the life cycle has repeated itself through France, Italy and California for eons.

For the first time, it’s going to happen in Greeley.

Bijou Creek Winery opened last week to join the growing masses of craft brewers and distillers in town. The winery, owned by Erwin Hillmann, 60, will be Greeley’s first winery and tasting room.

Hillmann has been making and bottling his own wine since 2006 in Fort Morgan. He’s sold his home-made wines for the last eight years at area farmers markets and wine festivals. He’s sold his wines in the last three years at Greeley’s downtown Oktoberfest, as well.

“We’ve been very successful there,” Hillman said.

But the Greeley native felt the call to come home in recent years.

It’s taken him two years to find the right space, after somewhat of a fruitless search in downtown — he needed at least 3,000 square feet, with room to haul in his grapes — but he landed at the recently remodeled building at 2525 10th St., a space which he shares with an oil and gas equipment company.

Bijou Creek opened Thursday with a tasting room for the public to taste his wine and buy it, in a neatly styled bar with a simple Tuscany décor. The back portion of the building is reserved for crushing and de-stemming grapes, fermenting and aging and bottling the wine.

In 2012, Hillmann retired early from Xcel Energy, where he spent 18 years; he left as the foreman of a gas storage unit south of Wiggins. He never was able to put his business administration degree from the University of Northern Colorado to use until now.

“I always wanted to start a business when I was younger, but nothing jumped out,” Hillmann said. “I wish I would have found this earlier because I’m really passionate about it. Now that I have found it, I know what I want to do when I grow up. The goal now is to stay healthy for another 20-30 years so I don’t have to retire.”

Wine has been a love of his for years.

“I started making it 20 years ago as a hobby, then the hobby kind of evolved into a part-time business in 2006,” Hillmann said. “When I did it as a hobby, I started with kits, and progressed from there to the real grapes in 2006.”

“I decided to start a small part-time business. I had a building on my property in Fort Morgan that I converted to a winery,” he said.

He didn’t have a tasting room in Fort Morgan, but after two years, he began peddling his craft to area shows and markets. His new Greeley digs are double that of the Fort Morgan space at a sprawling 3,000 square feet.

The winery is named for Bijou Creek, which runs from the Black Forest to Fort Morgan, coined by early French settlers who also named the Cache la Poudre River. Bijou means small jewel, Hillmann proudly proclaims.

Wine takes a few years to go from grape to bottle, however. Today, Hillman has probably 7,000 bottles of wine in his inventory, all bottled in 2012. His ideal inventory is 12,000 bottles.

“The shelf life of wine is pretty long, so I haven’t made the same amount every year,” Hillman explained. “Some years, it’s 600 gallons and some years I’ve made half that. … It does take more patience than making, probably, beer. But there’s some wines that age for 30-40 years before they’re marketed. That would take even more patience.”

He starts, of course, with grapes. Last week, he worked on a batch of Riesling, which called for about 1,600 pounds of grapes. All of his bottled wine in inventory is made from Colorado grapes, — from Palisades — but sometimes, bad weather years, yield poor grapes and he has to search elsewhere, like Washington.

Now that he has extra facility space, he hopes to put up 1,400 gallons of wine a year which fills 7,000 bottles. Unlike beer brewing, the wine-making process doesn’t emit foul odors. Fermenting wine, he said, actually carries a sweet smell.

“The whole process of making wine, I can use all of my talents, from my mechanical aptitude to loving chemistry to loving to sell things to people. All of that combined into one package profession,” Hillmann said. “That’s why I look to do everything. I like to be involved.”

It will take at least 18 months for his red wines, and almost a year for his white wines to age in barrels before they can tempt customers’ palates. That’s why he’s opening with existing inventory, all made two years ago. He will sell his fare on the craft and the TLC he puts into each bottle.

“I make sure from beginning to end it gets all the care and attention it needs,” Hillmann said. “It’s nurturing, I guess. It’s handcrafted, each batch. I think that’s what makes it outstanding.”

“I started making it 20 years ago as a hobby, then the hobby kind of evolved into a part-time business in 2006. When I did it as a hobby, I started with kits, and progressed from there to the real grapes in 2006.
— Erwin Hillmann, owner of Bijou Creek Winery on making wine



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Dec 14, 2014
Terri Judson

Thane residents to welcome Christmas with food, wine and party

Christmas dinner is probably the biggest event of the year for many families and planning and preparing for the occasion is not an easy task. As wine is synonymous to Christmas celebrations and to give a perfect touch to the celebration, there are people who are even furnishing a bar at home and gearing up for big party.

“I host a big dinner party and invite all my friends for dinner. And no party is complete without the wine. So, I have started preparations in advance and being a wine lover, I know the aesthetics behind serving a drink. Shopping for champagne cooler, wine bottle case and wine glass is almost done. I have also planned to do up my living room to make it look party kinds,” says Christina Rodrigues, a resident.

With party everyone’s mind and extended celebration, there are some residents who are taking help of experts and the internet to plan the day.

“Planning a good food along with the perfect drink is difficult and not all are good at it. To make things easy for myself and make the best of the occasion, I have started attending wine festivals and also read about wine and food combo. Added with my experience and innovation, I am making my menu ready for the big day,” says Soumya Sanathanan, another resident.

Sharing one of her tricks, Sanathanan adds match weight of both food and wine. Full-bodied wines complement heavy, rich foods.

Agreeing completely with the Christmas mood and engrossed in preparations is Ashtrid Fernandes. “I made my home completely ready for big day party. Apart from planning the best food for the day, I have invested good amount of time on bar accessories and made sure to get stylish wine holders, coolers, tongs and others. I have also ordered hand painted customised wine glasses and change the decor of the living room to match the occasion.”

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Dec 12, 2014
Terri Judson

Giddy up! Rachael Finch joins British royalty to ring in summer’s richest …

Penelope Kilby for Daily Mail Australia

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One is red carpet royalty Down Under with dazzling good looks, while the other is a member of the British royal family with an insatiable love for equine sports.

And combined, model Rachael Finch and Zara Phillips MBE will lead the fashion pack at the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival in January.

Announced on Wednesday as the new ambassador for summer’s richest racing carnival, Rachael is the perfect fit to represent her home state, Queensland.

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Fashionable filly: Model and TV personality Rachael Finch has been unveiled as the new ambassador for the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast in January 2015

Fashionable filly: Model and TV personality Rachael Finch has been unveiled as the new ambassador for the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast in January 2015

Zara will return to the Gold Coast in her role as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women.

A mother to one-year-old baby girl Violet, Rachael says she will relish in her time spent in the coastal city catching up with family and friends while taking in all the racing action. 

‘Having grown up in this beautiful part of Australia, I enjoy nothing more than coming home, spending time with my family and enjoying the stunning coastline,’ she gushed.

‘We are so lucky to have this incredible destination which has so much to offer in our backyard, from food and wine; festivals; art, culture and music; to sporting and lifestyle.’

Raised in Townsville, the former Miss Universe Australia is known for her impeccable trackside style and will no doubt dazzle come January 6, when the four-day carnival kicks off. 

All rise! British royalty, Zara Phillips MBE will return as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women

All rise! British royalty, Zara Phillips MBE will return as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women

Star power: Also joining Rachael is British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will resume her role as Magic Millions spokesperson

Star power: Also joining Rachael is British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will resume her role as Magic Millions spokesperson

‘The Carnival is the only event on Australia’s summer racing calendar and I’m really looking forward to frocking up for the Gold Coast’s famously warm January,’ Rachael said.

British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will also attend the equine and fashion spectacle, resuming her role as Magic Millions spokesperson. 

Rachael’s first appearance at Carnival will be the Jeep Magic Millions Barrier Draw on January 6, followed by the R.M.Williams Magic Millions Launch Party that evening. 

She will also attend the opening day of the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale on January 7, and the Jeep Magic Millions Raceday on Saturday, January 10.

She's got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year's Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne She's got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year's Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne

She’s got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year’s Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne

 


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Dec 12, 2014
Terri Judson

Still looking for the best meal of your life? Try these European towns

If you have a food-forward approach to vacationing, Europe is marbled like a side of fine beef with regions worth exploring. But where exactly should you take your tastebuds for that great 2015 belt-busting road trip?

For Rome food writer Elizabeth Minchilli (elizabethminchilliinrome.com), Umbria tops a menu of Italy options that runs from prosciutto-popping Emilia-Romagna to pecorino-flavoured Tuscany.

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“Umbria is blissfully untouristy and great for discovering by car,” she says. “Base yourself in medieval Todi, then branch out daily to villages and towns, like Bevagna, Spoleto and Orvieto. Sample the Sagrantino wines of Montefalco and the cured meats and black truffles of Norcia – it’s all rustic, traditional dishes here.”

Also consider the olive harvest. “The annual Frantoi Aperti takes place over four weeks from the end of October – and the area around Trevi is especially known for quality,” says Minchilli, adding that a GPS is vital for navigating the region’s signage-scarce roads.

France, of course, also lures the ravenous. But while Burgundy and Normandy sate many visitors, Auvergne-based Andrew Rossiter (about-france.com) suggests the underrated Franche-Comté region for the esuriently curious.

“Starting from regional capital Besançon, head into the mountains via the small town of Ornans on the banks of the river Loue – it’s overlooked by Restaurant Le Courbet, listed by Michelin in their Bib Gourmand category: quality restaurants offering great value,” he says.

From there, point your belly toward Pontarlier and – at the junction of the N57 and D48 roads – stop at the gourmet Fromagerie Napiot store for regional wine, ham and Comté cheeses. And don’t miss the town of Gilley. “Its must-see is the Tuyé du Papy Gaby – a traditional ham and sausage smokery.”

Travellers can quench their thirst at vineyards radiating east of Pontarlier, but Rossiter suggests stopping at the town of Arbois for its Michelin two-starred Restaurant Jean-Paul Jeunet.

Rapacious road-trippers are often lured to Catalan in Spain, Portugal’s Porto and England’s seafood-loving Cornwall, but there’s more to eating Europe than well-known epicurean countries.

Ireland-based Kristin Jensen (edible-ireland.com) suggests trying the Emerald Isle. “The new 2,500 kilometre Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest coastal touring route,” she says, and it’s ideal for weaving between great, locally loved dining hot spots.

“There’s Harrys Restaurant in the Inishowen Peninsula; Ard Bia or Kai Café in Galway; and Out of the Blue in Dingle. But my favourite is Shells Cafe in Strandhill, County Sligo – a charming oceanfront café for seriously good food washed down with Kinnegar craft beer.”

And what about timing? “Summer has events every weekend, but September’s Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival is a highlight for that magical combination of oysters and Irish stout,” says Jensen, adding that John and Sally McKenna’s Where to Eat and Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way book is a handy trip-planner.

Germany is also worth face-planting your appetite into, according to Wiesbaden-based food writer Christie Dietz (eatingwiesbaden.com). And there’s much more than sauerkraut to discover here, if you know where to go.

“The German Wine Road [in the Pfalz region] doesn’t have the breathtaking scenery of the middle Rhine, but it’s less-travelled by tourists and has some of Germany’s best restaurants and wineries tucked into tiny villages,” she says.

Suggested stops include the Raumland winery in the village of Florsheim-Dalsheim plus the walled town of Freinsheim for its annual culinary wine hikes and Von Busch Hof restaurant.

“To some extent, must-try dishes here depend on the season. In late-spring, you can’t move for white asparagus, served simply with butter, ham and potatoes – or atop a slice of stuffed pig’s stomach, a local specialty called saumagen that shouldn’t be missed.”

As for festivals: “It’s difficult not to time your visit with a food or wine event in Germany. But this region is renowned for its wine festivals, including one of the world’s largest – September’s Durkheimer Wurstmarkt in Bad Durkheim.”

OUR READERS WRITE

Southwest France, including the Bordeaux region. And northern Spain’s Basque Country. Cider, tapas, fish, oh my. @Emilycgb

Northern Portugal: superb seafood accompanied by vinho verde and other unknown Portuguese wines. And of course port. It’s also so untouristy compared with the Algarve – and Porto is a dream. @catherinemack

Go to Bologna and book the italiandays.it food experience. See firsthand how Parmigiano cheese, prosciutto and balsamic vinegars are lovingly produced, accompanied by delicious food samplings and an unforgettable cucina contadina lunch. Nancy Miotto

Croatia: Truffles, olive oil, wine – the people are wonderful and the food is delicious. A crossroads between Italian, Slavic and Turkish. @kattancock

Check out the Galway Food Festival April 2-6. Loads of different events going on in the food village and around town. Judy Nurse

Scotland. Sample fresh seafood and smoked fish and – if they’re in season – the raspberries and strawberries. There’s so much locally grown food there. @chowandchatter

Fly into Lyon and start there – the food capital of the world. Drive south through Provence for fantastic Mediterranean food, then east to Piedmont in Italy for fabulous wines and food to match. Cross the Alps on your way back to Lyon, where the only thing as astounding as the views are the cheese dishes. Jim McGarvey

The Basque Country. The amount of Michelin Guide restaurants is incredible. @Txotx_Basque

I like Carinthia in Austria. They’ve got great schnitzel, kas noodles and it’s only a 30-minute drive to Italy and Croatia. @Jody_Robbins

Flanders in Belgium has wonderful food and beer scenes to enjoy – and the countryside is idyllic. @travelling_mom

The Loire: Winding roads, fairy tale castles, beautiful rivers plus astonishing cheese and wine en route. @nikkibayley

Granada [Spain] for it’s delicious tapas; Marseilles for seafood; Firenze for trattorias; and Norfolk’s gastropubs. @Chiqee

Popular but for a reason: when driving around Tuscany/Umbria, I always end up with a car full of joy from markets, wineries, etc. @ryanvb

Bologna/Emilia-Romagna. The origin of so many international foods. @travelingjourno

Basque Country in Spain. We have guides there offering insider access to private cooking clubs plus delicious tapas tours @Tours_By_Locals

Iceland. You can do the Ring Road in about a week and get some incredible food in the different towns: lobster, fish, sheep/lamb, hot dogs(!) and sky [a traditional dairy product]. For something super authentic, go for Thorrablot [a midwinter festival]. Actually, it would probably be really cool to drive around the whole country and try to experience feasts in different towns @lindsontheroad

My vote is for the Croatian coast. Driving-friendly, gorgeous and beyond delicious. @AnyaGeo

Puglia [Italy]. Olive oil capital. @LisaHillPR

Arles and the Camargue [France] are the sleeper hits of Provence for fantastic regional cuisine. And for Greece: Corfu, Crete, Tinos and Mytilini (Lesvos) – the best Greek or Greek-fusion food you’ll find anywhere. @alexisaverbuck

Europe is definitely a foodgasm waiting to happen. Can you say tapas in Barcelona? @AirCanadaVac

West Cork [Ireland] is world-renowned for local artisan food and beautiful scenery. A great place to start is to look at the Taste of West Cork Food Festival @TourismWestCork

Send your travel questions to concierge@globeandmail.com.

 

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Recommended Reading

Dec 10, 2014
Terri Judson

Critics say new BC wholesale pricing model will lead to more expensive wine …

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In his analysis, Hicken indicated that as of April 1, 2015, a $30 bottle of wine would sell for $34 to $40. A $40 bottle would go for between $47 and $56, and a $100 bottle would sell for $125 to $151. Only at the lowest end—$8 and $10 bottles—might consumers pay a little less.

Wine enthusiast and public-policy analyst Bill Tieleman is one of several people contacted by the Georgia Straight who said that Hicken’s analysis is accurate.

“I just see consumers paying more, particularly in the middle and upper range,” the long-time NDP supporter said.

The new pricing formula is among several changes announced since the government released its final report last year from MLA John Yap’s review of liquor policies.

Next year, wine and beer sales will be permitted in separate retail outlets within grocery stores as long as they aren’t within one kilometre of an existing shop selling liquor. At the same time, government liquor stores will be allowed to open on Sundays and sell cold beer and wine.

Hicken’s analysis was based on retailers maintaining existing profit margins at private beer and wine stores and independent wine stores. But Tieleman wonders if some will even survive in the face of new competition.

The communications consultant predicted that over the long term, the government’s decision to allow beer and wine sales in grocery stores will benefit huge corporations such as the Jim Pattison Group, Loblaw Companies Limited, and Walmart.

In the meantime, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union’s recent five-year agreement requires the Liquor Distribution Branch to retain at least 185 government liquor stores over the life of the contract.

“The government will make more money,” Tieleman concluded. “The big boys will make more money. And the small guys—whether they’re a small LRS [licensee retail store] or independent wine stores—are the ones who are going to get the immediate knife in the ribs.”

That’s because the government intends to scrap a 30-percent discount for independent wine stores, 16-percent discount for private liquor stores, and 12-percent discount for rural agency stores.

They’re part of the existing system in which wholesale wines are marked up by the province 117 percent on the first $10.25 and 51 percent on the remainder of the supplier’s cost. In the future, wholesale wine prices will rise 89 percent on the first $11.75 of a supplier’s cost plus 67 percent on any amount above that.

The 195 government stores, 670 private stores, and independent wine retailers will pay the same wholesale fees and be allowed to choose their own retail markups.

Wine store owner expresses outrage

John Clerides, owner of Marquis Wine Cellars, says the changes will likely lead to significant job losses at independent wine stores. Last year, he doubled the size of his Davie Street store, not knowing that the government intended to eliminate his wholesale discount.

“It’s like getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer,” Clerides told the Georgia Straight during a tour of his store. “It seems as though someone has it out for the private wine stores.”

Throughout his 28 years in business, government regulations have prohibited Clerides from selling wine directly to restaurants, holding auctions on the premises, or participating in wine festivals.

He is frustrated that the B.C. Liberals have granted opportunities for big grocery chains and conferred advantages on government liquor stores, and he claimed that the 12-member Independent Wine Sellers Association didn’t receive any benefits.

“The 12 wine stores do about $54 million worth a year in business,” Clerides said. “That’s 10 percent of the wine market in B.C., leaving apart B.C. wine. That’s significant. I think they [the government] see us as a threat. We’re growing our market share. We’re giving them [citizens] service.”

The blunt-talking Clerides didn’t begrudge the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union its lobbying on behalf of its members for Sunday openings. But he questioned why public funds will be spent on new refrigerators in government stores.

“Those coolers aren’t cheap,” he said. “That’s $50,000, minimum, a store. Where could that money be going? That money could be going to education, health, saving it—better things than putting fridges in stores. Leave that to the private sector.”

As Clerides walked through his store, he pointed to the impact that the new wholesale-pricing model would have. He estimated that a 2012 Albariño D Fefinanes from Spain would rise from $31.90 to around $45.

Then Clerides mocked Justice Minister Suzanne Anton’s claim that the government is trying to level the playing field when specialty wine shops are prohibited from selling beer and spirits.

“Now we’re at a competitive disadvantage,” Clerides insisted. “How am I supposed to reinvent my business when my prices go up 15 percent and my competitors have beer and spirits—and I don’t?”

Clerides noted that his store has become a destination for wine buyers, contributing to the revival of the West End. After what he’s witnessed with the liquor-policy changes, he promised that he will never again vote for a B.C. Liberal politician.

“Davie Street used to be a dump, and it’s not anymore,” he declared. “I think we are an important part of that metamorphosis and now they want to take that away. I’ll thank Suzanne Anton and I’ll thank Christy Clark and I’ll thank [deputy premier] Rich Coleman and I’ll thank John Yap for marginalizing our business.”

The Justice Ministry refused to make Anton available for a phone interview with the Straight. Instead, it sent written statements claiming—you guessed it—that the government is “levelling the playing field” and that it’s “not about changing prices for consumers”. The government also didn’t make Yap available for comment.

NDP liquor critic worries about higher prices

For private operators, one consolation is that they’ll be allowed to move licences across the province. That concerns MLA David Eby, the NDP critic for liquor policy, because small communities could lose their liquor stores to more populous urban centres, only to see them replaced by liquor counters in other retail outlets.

In an interview in the back of his West Broadway constituency office, the lanky MLA highlighted some contradictions in the government’s handling of the issue. On the one hand, the government has promised beer and wine sales in grocery stores, but Eby said the one-kilometre rule means that there are only two or three locations where this could occur.

He also claimed that Anton had said the government wouldn’t touch wholesale prices because that would create winners and losers, only to change her mind a few months later.

“What I’ve heard from the wine industry, and certainly from the craft brewers, is concerns that prices may go up significantly under the wholesale-price reforms,” Eby noted. “So you’re talking about more expensive alcohol, and in many communities across B.C., there’s less available, which is almost entirely the opposite of the message that the government heard in the consultations.”

When asked what worries him the most, Eby replied: “As somebody who likes a beer and a glass of wine, I think, for me, the concern is the price is going to continue to go up. We’re already one of the most expensive jurisdictions for alcohol in North America.”

The MLA added that he’s also “very concerned” about the potential loss of thousands of retail jobs across the province when grocery stores start selling beer and wine.

“The private stores will close and the government stores will close,” Eby predicted.

Industry rep worries about his members

One of Eby’s constituents happens to be Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of B.C., which represents 400 of the approximately 670 private liquor stores across the province. In an interview at the Georgia Straight building, Guignard agreed with Hicken’s analysis that the new wholesale-pricing structure would lead to higher wine prices starting in April.

“They’re taking a smaller markup on the lower-priced items and increased the markup as they go along,” he said of the higher-priced beverages.

According to Guignard, the government is floating a false idea that beer and wine in grocery stores will lead to lower prices and greater selection, just as occurred in California.

“It’s going to be more like what happened in Washington,” he cautioned. “It led to higher prices and lower selection and neighbourhood shops closing.”

He also alleged that the overall effect of the changes, including the Sunday openings at government stores, will cause his members to lose market share. But he pointed out that the private operators will still face the same fixed costs, including rent and refrigeration costs, forcing them to either raise prices or cut staff.

Guignard added that government stores, too, will face higher capital costs as they introduce refrigeration services, so that will put upward pressure on their prices as well.

“The only thing that’s different between the two of them is where the retail profit goes,” he said. “The owner of the store has invested in his community, whereas they [government stores] take a little bit of extra money there and that goes into government coffers.”

Not every private-liquor-store owner shares Guignard’s concerns, however. Legacy Liquor Store brand manager Darryl Lamb told the Straight in his store in the Olympic Village that he likes the uniform wholesale-pricing model because it makes it more difficult for the Liquor Distribution Branch to subsidize underperforming government stores.

Lamb also said he’s not concerned about government stores opening on Sundays or offering refrigeration, saying he’s eager to compete with them because he feels he has more knowledgeable staff.

However, the magnitude of the changes has alarmed some who finance the private-liquor-store industry. Guignard said that a couple of months ago, he spoke to one of his members’ lenders after the bank became concerned about his line of credit.

“They wanted to talk about it because the risks were changing,” Guignard recalled. “Our financial institutions are absolutely nervous.”

Meanwhile, Vancouver lawyer Shea Coulson has trashed recent reforms on his long-running Just Grapes wine blog. He wrote that claims of “greater consumer choice and convenience” and “fair and equitable wholesale pricing” cannot be supported.

“Additionally, the new policy appears set to have a dramatic negative impact on many small businesses in the province,” Coulson claimed on his blog. “The implication is that both consumers and the majority of the wine industry will be better off under the old rules.”

What’s driving the changes?

The B.C. government’s approach has given rise to several theories about what’s really going on. Guignard said that some of his members are concerned that there’s a link between the government’s recent negotiations with the BCGEU and liquor-policy reforms.

In the last round of bargaining, the BCGEU negotiated Sunday openings of government liquor stores, claiming this would generate an additional $100 million per year.

In addition to retaining a minimum of 185 government stores, the five-year deal included an appendix committing the Liquor Distribution Branch to “working co-operatively to minimize adverse staffing impacts resulting from store closures and store consolidations into signature stores”.

Guignard said he understands why the government would want to open a busy outlet, such as the liquor store on Cambie Street near West 49th Avenue, on Sundays. But the liquor lobbyist questioned why this is being extended to all such outlets.

“They may have signature stores in other areas which don’t need to be opened on Sunday because the market may not support it, and they could end up losing money at those stores,” Guignard stated. “It’s a strange sort of piece to throw into a labour negotiation when it’s a business decision.”

The BCGEU settled for a 5.5-percent wage increase over five years, with additional increases in the final four years if economic-growth rates exceed predictions by the Economic Forecast Council.

That has some private-liquor-store owners wondering if the BCGEU agreed to a modest wage increase in response to the government abandoning privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch’s wholesale division.

Then there’s the question of whether the premier and finance minister wanted to leverage the BCGEU’s wage settlement to drive a harder bargain with teachers and nurses. It’s worth noting that teachers went on strike earlier this year in response to their employer’s demands.

“Our guys want to run their businesses and they want to offer products to consumers,” Guignard stated. “They don’t want to be used as a negotiation tactic in a multi-union deal.”

Tieleman, a former B.C. Federation of Labour communications director, rejected any suggestion that the government sacrificed private liquor retailers to advance its labour-relations objectives. “I don’t see that as part of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BCGEU’s director of negotiations, David Vipond, characterized this notion as a “pretty broad conspiracy theory”. He told the Straight by phone that after negotiations concluded, the union approached the minister responsible for the core review, Bill Bennett, to let him know that BCGEU members would be willing to work on Sundays for straight time.

Vipond said that when Ontario allowed Sunday openings, it resulted in a five-percent revenue increase in the first year, which would work out to $50 million in B.C.

“Three out of four residents in British Columbia want Sunday openings in the liquor stores,” Vipond added.

BCGEU staved off privatization efforts

It’s clear that the BCGEU likes the general thrust of the government’s liquor-policy reforms. The union that’s normally a friend of the NDP even issued a news release on November 19 praising the B.C. Liberal government’s latest moves.

“We welcome the level playing field,” Vipond stated. “We welcome the opportunity to operate like a retailer. We’re certain we can increase revenue to the province.”

Vipond also dismissed Tieleman’s theory that the B.C. Liberals are clearing the way for a grocery-store takeover of liquor retailing by first clobbering private liquor and wine stores and later targeting government stores.

“I think somebody is worried and he’s parroting their lament,” Vipond said.

The BCGEU has beaten back several privatization efforts in the past. Vipond recalled his members going on strike in 1988 to thwart an attempt by then premier Bill Vander Zalm.

After Gordon Campbell became premier in 2001, there was more talk of privatization. In the end, the B.C. Liberals adopted a hybrid system, with public and private retail outlets, while keeping the wholesale side of the business in the government’s hands.

“In 2002, we had to create a new classification of employees called seasonal,” Vipond said. “And they start at a reduced rate. They’re not even auxiliary and work up to 60 days a year, typically in the summer or at Christmas.”

These seasonal workers’ starting wage is $15.55 per hour and auxiliary workers start at $16.77 per hour, Vipond revealed, adding that regular government-liquor-store employees are paid $19.16 per hour.

He also praised Premier Clark for removing the “shackles” and letting B.C. Liquor Stores act like a retailer.

“I think she’s a brilliant politician,” the BCGEU negotiator said. “She’s got a lot of skill. Gordon Campbell could be ham-handed. You couldn’t accuse Christy of that.”

Political contributions may be an issue

Some private-liquor-store owners—traditional supporters of the B.C. Liberals—contributed to the B.C. NDP before the 2013 election.

The largest contribution was a $10,000 donation from Prince George liquor-store owner Jordy Hoover. And Vipond hasn’t ruled out the possibility that this might be a factor in how the government is dealing with the industry.

“I was at the [NDP] fundraisers and saw them there,” he recalled. “I mean, they jumped ship. Popular wisdom was Adrian Dix was going to win and Christy was cooked.”

As a result, Vipond said, the Clark government doesn’t owe anything to the private retailers.

Guignard, however, said that if political donations were a factor in the government’s decision, it would be “extremely disappointing”, given that only a few of the 1,000 liquor-licence holders across the province made these contributions. Guignard also said that many of his members would be angry if it turned out that this played any role in the new uniform wholesale price.

“No one said to me, personally, ‘Sorry, Jeff, I would love to help you out but someone in your organization gave $500 to the NDP last year, so screw you,’ ” Guignard said. “No one has said that. However, of course, we analyze those kind of political calculations.”

In the meantime, Vipond predicted that grocery chains, including ones owned by billionaire Jim Pattison, will purchase licences of private-liquor-store owners.

“There’s now a market for private licences, so he just has to look for some failing liquor store within one kilometre and buy him out,” Vipond said.

Is LDB pushing for a bigger market share?

Another theory is that the general manager and CEO of the Liquor Distribution Branch, Blain Lawson, launched an attack against private liquor- and wine-store owners without fully apprising the attorney general of the consequences of the single wholesale price. Tieleman said he doubts there’s any truth to this, but he acknowledged that some people are talking about it.

So what could account for the sudden policy shift on wholesale pricing? The president and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Ian Tostenson, told the Straight by phone that he thinks it all comes down to a “mistake”, which he expects to be corrected by next month.

“I know what Mark Hicken has written,” Tostenson said, referring to the Vancouver lawyer’s analysis of looming price increases. “I think he’s correct. What they need to do is recheck the calculations.”

When asked how a mistake of this magnitude could escape notice, Tostenson replied that the wholesale-pricing mechanism is “complicated”.

“You have to go back to what the supplier is selling it at, too,” he said. “So I think when they look at this, it’s quite likely they didn’t see the impact when they calculated this. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Eby, however, said that he’s quite certain that the government officials knew exactly what they were doing when they approved the new wholesale-pricing model.

From an office desk he pulled out a sheet that outlined how beer prices are calculated under current and future systems. In the new model, there are two markups: one for wholesale and one for retail.

“It will result in increased government revenues—essentially, a hidden tax increase,” Eby said. “There’s no way that that didn’t show up in a memo on somebody’s desk—that, ‘You understand this means that wine prices are going to go up 16 percent on a bottle above $20.’ ”

The Liquor Distribution Branch has not amended its three-year service plan, which forecasts net income to reach $891.1 million by 2016-17. That’s down from the $929.6 million in net income in 2012-13.

The branch stated in its service plan that lower net revenues resulted when the harmonized sales tax was replaced by the provincial sales tax. At that time, markups were reduced to rates that existed prior to the introduction of the HST.

However, if wholesale prices rise and government stores capture a bigger share of the pie, expect more money flowing into the government treasury.

“Each percentage change in the cost of products in the wine, spirits and refreshment beverage category has a direct effect on net income of approximately $7.8 million due to the percentage-based mark-up on these products,” the service plan states. “Each percentage change in the market share of BC Liquor Stores affects net income by $3.9 million.”

Meanwhile, lawyer Coulson wrote on his blog that the “lifeblood of wine culture in any market is the availability of wines that matter and wines of distinction”, but he claimed that people who source these beverages are facing an uncertain future.

“Under the new pricing model, import agents in British Columbia that focus on the most interesting, important wines will find it extremely difficult to continue operations because these wines are almost exclusively over $25 a bottle under the current system, meaning prices will have to increase,” he stated.

Tieleman also said that independent wine stores provide a valuable contribution by searching out unique products often overlooked by government liquor stores. But he believes that’s incidental to the government’s broader objectives of raising more money and allowing grocery corporations with low overheads to move into the beer and wine industry.

“I don’t think it’s an intentional effort to kill independent wine stores,” Tieleman added. “I just think they are collateral damage in the overall government scheme to move toward, eventually, a private system.”

Recommended Reading

Dec 10, 2014
Terri Judson

Rachael Finch joins British royalty to ring in summer’s richest racing carnival

Penelope Kilby for Daily Mail Australia

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One is red carpet royalty Down Under with dazzling good looks, while the other is a member of the British royal family with an insatiable love for equine sports.

And combined, model Rachael Finch and Zara Phillips MBE will lead the fashion pack at the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival in January.

Announced on Wednesday as the new ambassador for summer’s richest racing carnival, Rachael is the perfect fit to represent her home state, Queensland.

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Fashionable filly: Model and TV personality Rachael Finch has been unveiled as the new ambassador for the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast in January 2015

Fashionable filly: Model and TV personality Rachael Finch has been unveiled as the new ambassador for the Jeep Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast in January 2015

Zara will return to the Gold Coast in her role as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women.

A mother to one-year-old baby girl Violet, Rachael says she will relish in her time spent in the coastal city catching up with family and friends while taking in all the racing action. 

‘Having grown up in this beautiful part of Australia, I enjoy nothing more than coming home, spending time with my family and enjoying the stunning coastline,’ she gushed.

‘We are so lucky to have this incredible destination which has so much to offer in our backyard, from food and wine; festivals; art, culture and music; to sporting and lifestyle.’

Raised in Townsville, the former Miss Universe Australia is known for her impeccable trackside style and will no doubt dazzle come January 6, when the four-day carnival kicks off. 

All rise! British royalty, Zara Phillips MBE will return as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women

All rise! British royalty, Zara Phillips MBE will return as the Patron of Magic Millions Racing Women

Star power: Also joining Rachael is British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will resume her role as Magic Millions spokesperson

Star power: Also joining Rachael is British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will resume her role as Magic Millions spokesperson

‘The Carnival is the only event on Australia’s summer racing calendar and I’m really looking forward to frocking up for the Gold Coast’s famously warm January,’ Rachael said.

British horse racing heir and television presenter, Francesca Cumani will also attend the equine and fashion spectacle, resuming her role as Magic Millions spokesperson. 

Rachael’s first appearance at Carnival will be the Jeep Magic Millions Barrier Draw on January 6, followed by the R.M.Williams Magic Millions Launch Party that evening. 

She will also attend the opening day of the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale on January 7, and the Jeep Magic Millions Raceday on Saturday, January 10.

She's got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year's Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne She's got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year's Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne

She’s got the look! Rachael made Best Dressed lists everywhere at this year’s Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne

 


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Dec 10, 2014
Terri Judson

A Love of Wine Grows in India

A Love of Wine Grows in India

Indians who like alcohol usually choose whiskey as their drink. But, slowly, wine is growing more popular in the country. India’s first vineyard, a farm where grapes used to make wine are grown, is named Sula. It began operations 15 years ago.

Sula vineyards is in Nashik in northwestern Maharashtra state. Software engineer Nagesh Kamble and his wife Snehal have come to the hilly vineyard from Pune, about two hundred kilometers south. The young couple wanted to learn how wine is made. They began drinking wine at a special event two years ago.

“It was in Pune when there was a wine tasting festival going on.”

Snehal Kamble tells why the couple chose this time to come to Sula.

“…it is our anniversary this week, so we are kind of celebrating.”

Sula Vineyards is India’s largest Indian wine-maker. Ten years ago it opened a tasting room to create a wine culture among people like the Kambles. About 200,000 people visit every year. It is especially busy on weekends.

Visitors explore the vineyards. Then, they learn how to taste wine to best enjoy the blend of flavors.

Indian tradition has not been approving of alcoholic drinks. And until now, whiskey is the kind of alcohol that the general public has accepted.

Neeraj Agarwal is vice president of Sula Vineyards. He has seen the change that has taken place since the company struggled to sell its first several thousand bottles of wine in 2000. Last year Sula sold more than seven million bottles. Mr. Agarwal believes that wine is helping change opinion about alcohol.

“In five years, the scenario has completely changed. Earlier talking about alcohol in the open and seeing a woman having a glass of wine in hand was a taboo. Now, it’s wonderful, families coming, sitting together and enjoying.”    

Visitors to Sula Vineyards agree. Information technology professional Akshay Rajguru is getting some wine for his friends.

“It is for good times, that’s it…in India people treat liquor as bad thing, but it’s not that bad, I would say it is in the mind actually.”

Young professionals are the main supports of the growth in India’s wine market. The market is expanding at about 13 percent a year. Over the last 10 years, 90 wineries have opened across Karnataka and Maharashtra states, where the climate is favorable for growing wine grapes.

Indian women still represent a very small number of the wine drinkers in the country.  About three percent of women in India have at least one drink a year. But their numbers are growing more than twice as fast as men.  

There are several reasons for this. One is that more women have joined the workforce in the last ten years and have independent incomes. In big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, women buying wine or having a drink is no longer considered unacceptable.

Once a week or so, 32-year-old Pallavi Kohli heads out for a drink at a restaurant or a pub.

“I love unwinding with a glass of wine over the weekends, especially when there is no movie to watch, and going out with my friends.”

Subhash Arora found the Delhi Wine Club in 2002. He says now 40 percent of its members are women.

“It is basically a lifestyle drink anyway. So when they go out to parties or outings, now they say ‘OK, a glass of wine is fine.’”

However, the wine culture is still restricted to the country’s main cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Wine companies are now targeting the smaller towns.

Mr. Agarwal of Sula Vineyards says the alcohol industry is not permitted to advertise. But he says they reach out to the public through wine festivals, fashion shows and music festivals. 

The wine industry hopes that the market will continue to grow as incomes increase and life styles change in India.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Recommended Reading

Dec 9, 2014
Terri Judson

A Love of Wine Grows in India

A Love of Wine Grows in India

Indians who like alcohol usually choose whiskey as their drink. But, slowly, wine is growing more popular in the country. India’s first vineyard, a farm where grapes used to make wine are grown, is named Sula. It began operations 15 years ago.

Sula vineyards is in Nashik in northwestern Maharashtra state. Software engineer Nagesh Kamble and his wife Snehal have come to the hilly vineyard from Pune, about two hundred kilometers south. The young couple wanted to learn how wine is made. They began drinking wine at a special event two years ago.

“It was in Pune when there was a wine tasting festival going on.”

Snehal Kamble tells why the couple chose this time to come to Sula.

“…it is our anniversary this week, so we are kind of celebrating.”

Sula Vineyards is India’s largest Indian wine-maker. Ten years ago it opened a tasting room to create a wine culture among people like the Kambles. About 200,000 people visit every year. It is especially busy on weekends.

Visitors explore the vineyards. Then, they learn how to taste wine to best enjoy the blend of flavors.

Indian tradition has not been approving of alcoholic drinks. And until now, whiskey is the kind of alcohol that the general public has accepted.

Neeraj Agarwal is vice president of Sula Vineyards. He has seen the change that has taken place since the company struggled to sell its first several thousand bottles of wine in 2000. Last year Sula sold more than seven million bottles. Mr. Agarwal believes that wine is helping change opinion about alcohol.

“In five years, the scenario has completely changed. Earlier talking about alcohol in the open and seeing a woman having a glass of wine in hand was a taboo. Now, it’s wonderful, families coming, sitting together and enjoying.”    

Visitors to Sula Vineyards agree. Information technology professional Akshay Rajguru is getting some wine for his friends.

“It is for good times, that’s it…in India people treat liquor as bad thing, but it’s not that bad, I would say it is in the mind actually.”

Young professionals are the main supports of the growth in India’s wine market. The market is expanding at about 13 percent a year. Over the last 10 years, 90 wineries have opened across Karnataka and Maharashtra states, where the climate is favorable for growing wine grapes.

Indian women still represent a very small number of the wine drinkers in the country.  About three percent of women in India have at least one drink a year. But their numbers are growing more than twice as fast as men.  

There are several reasons for this. One is that more women have joined the workforce in the last ten years and have independent incomes. In big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, women buying wine or having a drink is no longer considered unacceptable.

Once a week or so, 32-year-old Pallavi Kohli heads out for a drink at a restaurant or a pub.

“I love unwinding with a glass of wine over the weekends, especially when there is no movie to watch, and going out with my friends.”

Subhash Arora found the Delhi Wine Club in 2002. He says now 40 percent of its members are women.

“It is basically a lifestyle drink anyway. So when they go out to parties or outings, now they say ‘OK, a glass of wine is fine.’”

However, the wine culture is still restricted to the country’s main cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Wine companies are now targeting the smaller towns.

Mr. Agarwal of Sula Vineyards says the alcohol industry is not permitted to advertise. But he says they reach out to the public through wine festivals, fashion shows and music festivals. 

The wine industry hopes that the market will continue to grow as incomes increase and life styles change in India.

I’m Caty Weaver.

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