Seasonal inspiration

Five extravagant gift ideas for wine lovers

By Winsor Dobbin

18 Nov, 2019

If you want to gift an unforgettable wine experience this festive season – or drop hints about receiving one for yourself – here, we feature five of the best. 

  • 1. Be a VIP at Henschke

  • The Henschke family’s VIP Tour and Tasting offers exclusive access to one of their most renowned vineyards, Hill of Grace, together with a tour of the historic working winery and a comprehensive private tasting. Guests can soak up a century and a half of wine history – and stories covering six generations – as they discover parts of the original winery built in the 1860s. They will then settle into the family’s private cellar to enjoy a range of distinguished Henschke wines from the Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills, including Hill of Grace, Hill of Roses, Mount Edelstone and Cyril Henschke. A minimum of two people and a maximum of six are required. Special dinners with members of the Henschke family are also available for high rollers. Details by application.

  • 2. Spend a day at Levantine Hill

  • Take a helicopter trip from Melbourne over the city and the Yarra Valley’s vineyards before landing at Levantine Hill, one of Australian wine’s rising stars. Check out the owners’ collection of modern sculptures before a private tasting of the Levantine Hill range, which is made by former Yarra Yering winemaker Paul Bridgeman. Follow it up with a degustation lunch cooked by chef Luke Headon, whose eight-course menu can be paired with wines for a seriously long lunch. A dine-and-stay package with a night at Yarra Valley Lodge is also available, and helicopter packages start at $645 per person. A new state-of-the-art winery is being built, along with a conference space and classic car museum. There are also plans for luxury cottages on the banks of the Yarra.

  • 3. Get a taste of Tasmania

  • Explore some of the best cool-climate vineyards of the Tamar Valley before returning to the Stillwater complex, a former mill on Launceston’s waterfront. One of the town’s culinary landmarks, the 1830s flour mill has housed award-winning eatery Stillwater for almost two decades, and now also includes a mini luxury hotel. Stillwater Seven has just seven striking rooms with quality local inclusions, including a pantry with freshly baked sourdough bread and pate, and access to the private guest bar. Stillwater remains one of Tasmania’s best dining experiences, and co-owner and sommelier James Welsh can compile a tasting of the Apple Isle’s finest wines, as well as others that are hard-to-find, to accompany your dinner. Stillwater Seven is a short walk from Cataract Gorge and the city centre.

  • 4. Visit the Hunter’s new showpiece

  • Established in 1970, Brokenwood Wines is one of Australia’s most famous premium wine labels, and recently opened a spectacular new cellar door with two eateries. Home to the renowned Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, Brokenwood offers a range of experiences, including semillon masterclasses with matching bites; the Brokenwood Journey, for a selection of six premium wines paired with canapes; and the VIP Soil to Cellar Experience, which includes a visit to the Graveyard Vineyard. Alternatively, book a private tasting room overlooking the barrel hall with lunch for up to 12 people – it’s guaranteed to impress friends and family. For a fine-dining experience, The Wood Restaurant, by local hospitality stalwarts Andrew and Janet Wright, has a strong focus on seafood, such as Normandy fish stew.

  • 5. See Central Otago from the air

  • Fans of Central Otago’s pinot noir will love the Ultimate Queenstown Heli Wine Tour. It’s offered through the five-star Rees Hotel on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is home to award-winning restaurant True South. Join hotel manager and wine expert Mark Rose on a discovery trip with The Helicopter Line, enjoying views over Gibbston Valley and Kawarau Gorge before a tasting and lunch at Mount Difficulty. Next stop is spectacular Rippon Vineyard for some organic wines, followed by a beer or two at the historic Cardrona Hotel before returning to Queenstown. The package includes two nights’ accommodation in an executive lake-view apartment, plus breakfasts, transfers, lunch at Mount Difficulty and drinks at each stop. Prices are from NZD$1243 per person, per night.

    If you’re looking for a special bottle to gift the wine lover in your life, then get the latest issue of Halliday magazine, which has more than 350 wines to discover inside.