Goon of Fortune…. That’s all you need to know. The biddies revisit Australian wine, its history and regions, and the best worst drinking game you’ve never heard of, Goon of Fortune. Grab a glass and join us!


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On Apple Podcasts

We’re also on Stitcher, iHeartRadio,, Overcast, CastBox and iVox


Food & Wine, How to Find the Best Wines from Australia

Wine Enthusiast, The Best Australian Wines to Drink Right Now

Wine Searcher, Margaret River

Wine and Spirits Academy, The Story of Australian Prosecco

How to Play Goon of Fortune – The Chuggernauts

An Aussie As Guide To Goon Of Fortune | Rules To The Drinking Game • (

Australian Wine Regions and History – Grapes & Grains (

Study Notes On Australian Wine:

*Please note these are the literal notes we created to record the podcast and sections may be copied and pasted from our sources above.


  • First Australia episode is Number 11
  • Brief background:
    • Australia does not have its own native grapes
    • Cuttings first brought over in 1788
    • Had great success with Shiraz in particular
    • But after phylloxera in 1875 turned to sweet, fortified wines
    • Returned emphasis to other wines in 1960s
  • 6 growing regions with a very lightly planted 7th region (the peninsulas). Episode 11 focused primarily on Barossa (South Australia)
  • U.S. imports of Australian wines is the highest they’ve been in 15 years

History of Australia Wine….

  • Fun facts: Australia holds the oldest continental crust on earth dating back to 4.4 billion years ago
    • The aboriginal people have the oldest continuous culture on Earth
    • The oldest fossils ever found (cyanobactera, 3.5 billon years ago) are from rocks in Western Australia
    • Also home to many new technology:, cochlear implants, black box flight recorders, GPS…. and insert Kara……

….. Bag-in-box wine

  • Invented by Australia! (Apparently along with the refrigerator in 1856, the electronic pacemaker in 1926, and Wi-Fi in 2003)
  • Invented by Thomas Angove in 1964
    • Fun fact: the bag that holds the wine is known as a “goon bag” down under
    • There is a drinking game “Goon of Fortune”


  • What you need: A selection of your favorite box wine bags; pegs; a rotating clothes line; friends (they say this is recommended)
  • How do you play?
    • Attach the wine bags (goon sacks) to the clothes line with the pegs
    • Circle your contestants around the clothes line
    • Specify a set number of drinks until each person is eliminated (or make up any other rule you honestly want)
      • Some rules include if you refuse to drink… lose
      • If you empty the goon bag, just strap up another
      • Use multiple goon bags so multiple people drink at the same time!
    • Spin the clothes line – whoever the goon sack lands on drinks
    • The last person left, literally standing, wins?! JEEZ LOUISE


  • Starts in 1788 when Governor Arthur Phillip brought the first vines to Aussie; he was the first governor of new south wales and he founded the british penal colony that we now now as Sydney
  • 1806 – Gregory Blaxland, an English pioneer farmer who arrived to Sydney with his family is noted as one of the first settlers to plant grapes for wine making purposes
    • He brought his vines from the Cape of Good Hope and found a species resistant to blight (a plant disease caused by fungi)
    • He brought his wine back to England in 1822 and was awarded a silver medal of the Society of Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (now known as the Royal Society of Arts)
    • He was the first Australian winemaker to win an overseas award
  • 1817 – John McAruther is recognized as the pioneer of the wool industry in Australia
    • He established a vine nursery at his property in Camden Park (southwest of Sydney) where he successfully cultivated vines imported from France
    • His nursery was THE major source for vine root stock throughout the colony 
    • Essentially known for establishing Australia’s first commercial vineyard
  • 1883 – James Busby (considered the father of the Aussine wine industry) brought cuttings from Spain and France and introduced Shiraz (aka Syrah) and Grenache to the region
  • Early wine industry was centered around Sydney and Hunter Valley driven by its early entrepreneurial settlers and then it spread to Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland
  • Early wine production focused on sweet, fortified wines
    • Production and quality increased as more settlers from various parts of Europe moved and brought their skills and knowledge
    • German settlers fleeing from the Prussian province of Silesia (now Poland) helped established one of the main regions of Barossa Valley
    • Swiss settlers brought their knowledge to the Yarra Valley and Geelong as well as other parts in the state of Victoria
    • Italian emigrants like Thomas Henry Fiaschi (Florence, Italy), who was a expert viticulturist and surgeon, established the Tizzana vineyard in Hawkesbury (New South Wales) in 1882
      • Introduced many new grape varieties and experimentally used new wire and trellis systems
    • Scotland – James Angus established the Minchinbury winery and is credited for introducing modern wine making techniques
      • 1903 – introduced the sparkling wine that has made the name Minchinbury famous in Australia 
  • 1875 – Phylloxera arrives in Australia through varietals brought from America through Europe which damaged different parts of Australia
    • However, luckily, prior to that, the South Australian government had introduced strict quarantine legislation in 1874 restricting the movement of vines across borders so South Australia remained unaffected by phylloxera
  • 1960s – switched to making table wines


  • Most recent growth began in 1986 with a steady increase in exports after the Australian dollar had plunged to record lows in 1985
  • The wholesale value of Australian wine sales doubled between 1984086 and 1992-94 and the consumer price and export price of Aussie wine both grew by around 50% over that period
    • This allowed for higher quality and more profitable grape varieties to be planted and in turn increasing production and exports 
  • This increase in quantity plus the marketing began to build Australia’s reputation for low budget fruit forward wine but the quality and collaboration brought in more premium wines
  • Yellow tail – a curse and a blessing (separate episode)

Modern Winemaking in Australia (Wine Enthusiast)

  • Lots of big commercial cookie cutter wines
  • Also a lot of natural wine “with all its vagaries” 
  • Many have found a sweet spot in the middle
  • Wine recos in article

THE FAST FACTS (before we dive into the regions)

  • Major grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Wine producing areas are divided into Geographic Indications

South Australia:

  • Located in (shocker) south (eastern) Australia this is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine
  • Very vast region with many soil types, geographies, and climates
  • Full bodied Shirazes of Barossa and cool climate Rieslings from Clare Valley
  • Produces some of the BEST known wines (Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek Yaluma, Henschke Hill of Grace) but also many of Australia’s mass produced box wines (or goon bags?)

Barossa Valley: 

  • One of the areas first planted with grapes to produce “ports” for the British Empire 
  • Since the valley was heavily influenced by Germans, the early focus was on the production of Riesling 
  • Some of this wine was eventually distilled to produce brandy which ushered in this period of fortified wine production
  • Coincided with the plantings of many red grape varietals like Shiraz, Grenache, now Cabernet, Malbec and more
  • Today Barossa Valley is considered to be the “Napa Valley” of Australia hosting some of the most prestigious Australian wines (torbrecks, penfolds, etc)

Clare Valley:

  • One of the oldest wine regions best known for Riesling

New South Wales (wine region) – second largest wine region with varying micro-climates as well

  • Home to the Hunter Valley
    • Known for legacy chardonnay, shiraz and semillon vines
      • Hunter Semillon is known for its chalky, mineral qualities alongside lemon and grapefruit notes
  • Orange is a newer area in New South Wales both active wine community
    • Sparkling wines in Orange
  • Vine cuttings were brought by Arthur Phillips on the First Fleet to the colony and planted in his garden
  • James Busby planted grapevines along the Hunter from the land grant he was awarded and his findings were including in his book “Making Wine In New South Wales”
  • Big Rivers Zone – another region where most of the wines are used for mass produced brands like yellowtail

Victoria (wine region)

  • Mainland’s south
  • Known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in two sub-regions: Yarra Valley and Macedon Regions
    • Macedon Ranges has volcanic soils
      • “Craft taut, otherworldly mineral-driven styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay”
  • Has more wine producers than any other region but ranks third in overall production 
  • Rutherglen – still known for its sweet fortified wines 

Tasmania (wine region)

  • Once thought too cold for wine but now known for its bubbles!
    • Coal River Valley and Huon Valley
      • Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling
  • One of the earliest wine regions in Australia with Bartholomew Broughton having founded the first vineyard in 1823
  • Global warming has actually had a positive outcome on the Tasmania wine industry allowing most of the grapes to ripen fully and produce better quality wine

Western Australia

  • Home to Margaret River, has more name recognition
    • Famous for having a more “European” wine style
    • Cabernet Sauvignon (often blended with Merlot), Shiraz, Chardonnay, blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
  • It’s northern neighbor Swan Valley has also been growing grapes since 1829 and is known for its outstanding chenin blancs 
  • Occupies the western third of Australia (Australia is massive! 41 hours to drive non stop from Sydney to Perth, the US is 45 hours)
    • Only discovered for its wine growing potential in the 1960s
  • Swan Valley – hottest wine growing region in Aussie with grape harvest starting in January

Australian Prosecco?

  • Australian Prosecco makers believe that Prosecco is a grape variety
  • Italian immigrants had brought “prosecco” vines (now glera) and many Australian sparkling wines are called prosecco
  • In 2009, Italy registered the “Prosecco DOC” with the EU and the grape varietal became known as glera
    • Means Australian sparklers can’t be labeled as prosecco in the EU