The following is an article that Todd wrote for The Berra Magazine’s innaugural edition in November 2008. This will be a regular monthly column on the local canberra wine district where we will share our knowledge and insights into what we think makes this region worth visiting and give it a fun twist – eg. no wine snobs in sight!
For the final in print story (editors always take out the juicy bits though) you can download a copy of the berra at www.theberra.com.au/nov08 or pick up one of the 40,000 printed copies around town. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM TODD – The Berra Magazine – November 2008
Our local Berra wine dude is Todd Wright. Todd is proud to be born and bred in Canberra but he claims he is a local with a difference – he actually knows about our local wine district and claims to know have some inside stories about this district and is willing to share, sweet!. So we have asked Todd to put together a series of articles on the local Canberra Wine District, including what he calls his “Tips from Todd” to help the rest of us become wine dudes as well. We have told him to avoid the ‘Wine Wankerisms’ and tell us the exciting and different sides of the local district without the wine jargon. If you have any questions or maybe some tips of your own to share – hit us up and we’ll see if we can ‘blend’ them into one of our future editions. Enough of the wine puns and on with the show – know where did I put my glass down….
Ask any Canberran of their favourite wine district in Australia and you might hear stories of long lunches in the Barossa, Winding through the vines Hunter Valley, meandering down a winding lane in Margaret River or becoming best mates with a nice red in Mudgee. A visit to a winery is on a lot of peoples ‘must do on holidays’ list – and why shouldn’t it be – nice wine mixes well with a relaxing weekend. But for those in the know, you don’t need to go very far or even be on holidays to experience a district that can rival any region in Australia. With 33 wineries within 35 minutes of Canberra – making a trip out to a local winery is becoming more than just a novelty or the thing to do on a special occasion for many Canberrans.
So – now you know – forget the expensive plane ticket to WA and you no longer have to worry about the 5 hour drive to the Hunter to get stuck into some great local wine and the best of the local regions produce. But now that you know that the Canberra region has wineries I don’t expect you to be a instant local wineries expert, but wouldn’t it be great if you could start rattling off a few wineries, have a bottle in the rack at home, drop a few tips about the top wines in the region or even get a group of friends together a take them on a tour of the region. Here’s my Top Ten tips for how to become a local wines expert within minutes so when you head out with your mates next weekend they will be in awe of your local wines knowledge and you might even get them to buy you a bottle or two for all your hard work!
1. Do your research – jump on the net and head to www.canberrawines.com.au . This site lists 33 of the wineries in the district and has maps, info on events, cafe and restaurant listings and contact details for each winery.
2. Grab a map – The local wineries map is a gold nugget of district information. Will a full scale map of the region and listings of all the wineries – a copy well positioned on the coffee table will get people talking about wineries in no time. Pick one up at the Canberra and Region Visitors centre on Northbourne Ave. Dickson.
3. Get to know your regions – the Canberra district is roughly split into 4 regions. Murrumbateman, Hall, Wamboin / Bungendore and Lake George. Each district produces different varieties due to their elevation and climate but don’t get too technical just yet…
4. Make friends with a Riesling or Shiraz – The top 2 wines produced in the district are Shiraz and Riesling. These 2 wines are great conversation starters and will lubricate the best debates on local wines.
5. Find an excuse to head out – do you really need an excuse to head out to a winery? If you do the Wine Harvest Festival in April or the Wine Roses and All that Jazz in November are 2 of the best (just be warned – the cellar doors get really busy).
6. Plan a wine tour – get a designated driver, hire a mini bus, call some local wineries and run your own tour (more on this topic in the next issue of the Berra).
7. Grab a good feed – A number of wineries have great restaurants and Cafes so plan your trip around lunch time to get the best taste of the region. Need a recommendation? Stay glued to this column and we will hit up the best winery restaurants in future editions.
8. Play favourites – Mum never played favourites with your brothers or sisters, but you are allowed to. Visit a few wineries and pick your favourite. Get to know the owners, by a few bottles, join their cellar club and go along to a new release tasting or special event. You’ll be on the xmas card list in no time.
9. Brush up on the lingo – Winery cellar doors in the Canberra district are more often than not run by the wine maker, the winery owner or their family and you can have a chat with the person who has actually made the wine you are drinking. Ask about the latest vintage, what makes a cool climate wine different from other wines just don’t start crapping on about cut grass and asparagus flavours or they will know you have no idea!.
10. Phone a friend – Eddie Maguire might have been absent from our TV screens for quite some time know but you don’t need Fat Ed to tell you to phone a friend and find a day that you can head out to the wineries “Next Saturday?…Lock it in Eddie”
33 wineries within 35 minutes drive of the city – that is one statistic that you don’t need to work at the ABS to work out is the perfect ingredient for a great day out with friends. Keep my Top Ten List close and start swotting up on your local wine knowledge today. Who knows when it will come in handy next. When you get out to a local winery – let me know if you pick up any other tips that need to be added to the list and we’ll see if we can work them into the next vintage – I mean edition!.