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In vino veritas

by John Curnow, Editor, 28 Jun 00:00 UTC
Grapes and water - Scotchmans Hill Vineyard is both pretty and turns out sensational wine © Scotchmans Hill

Now I would not be the first to write about sailing and its strong links to other of life's pursuits. The collecting and/or racing of automotive treasures, and viniculture, or even more precisely oenology, come to mind without even trying.

So when it comes to cruising, off the top of my head I can only think of just a few examples of where you can sail right along beside vineyards, and I guess for that matter some of the most inviting roads in the world.

True, there are areas of Italy and Spain, even Portugal, where all of these factors are present, but often there are substantial cliffs around, as well. Looking at it more closely, I suppose technically there is also river and canal cruising in France and Germany, but that is mainly under power, not sail.

Of course, one is limited to one's own experiences, but the kinds of up close and personal locales I had in mind are the Tamar in Tasmania, which you won't sail too much in, and then the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas at the bottom and on either side of Melbourne's Port Phillip.

At a recent conference I attended, the Bellarine Peninsula was represented by Scotchmans Hill of Drysdale, located on the highest point in the area. Not only were the tables resplendent with both white and red varietals, but also there was a tasting section in the adjacent anteroom that had everything on offer, right up to their premium Syrah.

Yes, I probably did bore the team, and I struggle to say sorry for that, but when you have 'a producer of premium cool-maritime climate wines' laying it all on, then you are somewhat obliged, I feel. Sitting atop Mount Bellarine, 'where the vineyards are exposed to cool ocean and bay breezes, the thick, black and fertile volcanic soils of the estate lend individual and intense characters to the wines.'

The vineyard was bought out by a collective in 2014, having only been created back in the middle-ish 80s. Now that is not a long time in many a sense, but the efforts, investment and dedication have been rewarded with the vineyard consistently collecting a five star rating. They do predicate themselves on detail and minimalist intervention in the winemaking, thereby going for a clean, intense, and dare I say it, healthy set of characteristics in the process.

The Chief Winemaker, Robin Brockett, who recently made his 31st vintage, leads Scotchmans Hill's passionate winemaking team. In 2017, the new owners also unveiled their new cellar door, which is a renovated French provincial farmhouse set amongst the vines on the 120-hectare property. They were again recognised and rewarded, with the facility being named the Best Large Cellar Door for the Geelong region in the 2018 Gourmet Traveller WINE Cellar Door Awards.

The cellar door also boasts great views over Corio Bay and also Port Phillip and on to Melbourne. Clearly it is about making the time to soak it, the food, and of course the wine in, and relax in a comfortable and amenable ambience.

And so what of the wines? Well, they are spectacular, and any time you get to mention maritime-climate chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz (syrah) in a nautical newsletter, then it has to be a good thing. If you subscribe to the theory that there are only two kinds of wines – the ones you like and the ones you don't – then perhaps the best accolade I can give Scotchmans Hill is that I am yet to come across someone who does not like at least one of the vineyard's offerings! So if you're looking for a reason to tackle Port Phillip's notorious and challenging heads, then we may have just offered one to you. Please let us know if you find one you don't like... Cheers!

Now it is a fairly loose connection in one sense, with boats, roads and lifestyle, but pertinent none the less, and it allows us to head into the Northern hemisphere too. I see that Winnebago just bought the 100+ year-old Chris Craft. I get the whole product line extension thing, and here we are having just waxed on about the links between life's passions, so it will be interesting to see where they want to take the brand, given it always brings up notions of glorious timber lines, high-gloss varnish, and an era long gone by...

Repositioning Chris Craft will take time (read money) and a super-sized dedication to the cause. In the very least, it is good to see someone other than private equity firm getting involved, for whilst profit is inherent in any business decision, it would seem Winnebago do get the fundamentals of being around to service customers first and foremost, irrespective of what you might think of the whole RV sector.

Tacking. Back in the Southern Hemisphere now, and if you're attending Hamilton Island Race Week, and not staying on board, or have a hefty shore crew to deal with, then contact Kristie and the team at Whitsunday Accommodation pronto. Kristie tells me the last of the properties are getting signed up smartly!

The new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 and 490 offer cruisers many new and exciting benefits as a result of the walk-around single level decks, and walk through shrouds. It will be great to see these boats in the flesh at the Sydney International Boat Show from August 2-6, and assess these in situ, as opposed to just images.

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about Nordac from North Sails, gear from Musto, a Jeanneau greets its new owner at Les Sables-d'Olonne, anchoring in paradise, the scourge known as crown of thorns, looking after whales when you see them, ARC, B&G wireless wind gear, Multihull Solutions have the new Fountaine Pajot Astréa 42 on display at SIBS, more features in the NEBO app, whales, turtles, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other hemisphere, go to the top and the drag down menu, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow, Editor,

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