Drinks news: December

By Nola James

4 Dec, 2023

Your monthly round-up of Australian drinks news.

We may be heading towards the end of the year, but the wine industry shows no signs of slowing down. Here’s the latest news from around Australia, including a pinot puncheon-finished dram, Victorian Wine Show results and the lineup for Taste Great Southern.

Inside the Fleet cellar door

Fleet cellar door

Lisa and Justin Jenkins have opened a Leongatha cellar door for their Gippsland label, Fleet Wines. The informal space seats 30 indoors, plus an outdoor area for 20 or so punters. Alongside new releases and limited edition wines, there’s a short list of local beers, G&Ts and spritz, plus charcuterie, cheese and terrines. 

“We only play vinyl records, from a deep collection that spans 20 odd years of crate digging,” Lisa says. “You’ll find anything from the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads to Erykah Badu and the Wu Tang Clan.” 

Open Saturday and Sunday from 12–5pm most of the year (except the winter months) with extended trading hours in summer.

Image credit: Cam Suttie, Know Studio.

Castelli winery tour

Taste Great Southern returns

Taste Great Southern will be back for its 20th year in 2024. The festival runs from May 2 to 12 and features several new events, including an Indigenous feast and an ode to food and fire. The region’s world-class wines will also be celebrated, with 30+ dinners, lunches, wine tastings and masterclasses staged across the region over the 11-day festival.

Find out more here.

Don and Narelle

Inaugural Don Lewis Memorial Trophy Announced

The 2023 Victorian Wine Show results were announced on November 9 under new director Tobias Ansted of Tellurian Wines. This year marked the first Don Lewis Memorial Trophy for Best Iberian Variety or Blend, named for the late Mitchelton and Tar & Roses winemaker. Honouring Don’s passion for Spanish varieties, the inaugural trophy was awarded to Farmer & The Scientist’s 2022 Single Vineyard Tempranillo. Other winners include the 2022 De Bortoli PHI Pinot Noir, which took out Best Pinot Noir, Best Red Wine and Best Wine of Show, and Paringa Estate’s 2021 The Paringa Chardonnay for Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine.

For the full list of results, head to

Starward X Yering Station

Starward X Yering Station

Yarra Valley winery Yering Station has teamed up with Port Melbourne distillery Starward to release a Pinot Noir Cask Single Malt Whisky. Parcels of Starward’s red-wine matured single malt spent their final two years in a combination of fresh and charred French oak puncheons that once held Yering Station pinot noir. The resulting spirit shows notes of forest berries, black cherry, vanilla and subtle hints of oak. 

Starward Pinot Noir Cask Single Malt can also be purchased directly from, it’s $199 for a 1L bottle. 

Australian Cabernet Symposium

Cabernet conference

Tickets to Australia’s only cabernet sauvignon conference, the Australian Cabernet Symposium (ACS), are now on sale. The triannual event returns on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 February 2024, showcasing a stellar line-up of Australian and international wine experts. 

Traditionally hosted by Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated (CGWI) in South Australia’s Coonawarra, in 2024 the ACS is being presented in association with Wines of Western Australia (WoWA) and brings together Australia’s premier cabernet sauvignon producing regions, Coonawarra and Margaret River, for the first time. 

The conference will feature sessions by Phil Brodie, senior winemaker at Te Mata in Hawke’s Bay, and Vanya Cullen, who will explore her insights behind zero carbon vineyards at Cullen in Margaret River. Masterclasses will explore innovative cabernets from the Napa Valley, Coonawarra and Margaret River. 

To book tickets and for more information about the Australian Cabernet Symposium, visit