James Busby Travel is a unique, innovative and commercially focused initiative. We take wine trade professionals on the ultimate Australian road trip. A red carpet, access all areas, once in a lifetime, money can't buy sort of road trip. Oh, and we have a lot of fun.
Established by Tim Wildman MW in 2010 in response to the need to refresh the image of Australian wine, it's the only independent wine tour designed and funded directly by the Australian wine community and the only one with a Master of Wine as a Tour Guide. The founding concept back in 2010 was to change attitudes to Australian wine and this is still the guiding principal. We take an uncompromising view towards quality and selection both of the guests invited and the quality and curation of wineries and events in the itinerary. And did we mention the bit about fun?
In fifteen years in the wine business nothing else has come close – this is the pinnacle of wine tours for trade professionals. There cannot be any substitute for the level of access Tim can achieve with producers from all over Australia and there really is no practical way to cover so much ground in a production scene as dynamic and evolving as Australia.
A pretty amazing journey. Sure I knew that things were moving and shaking in Australia, but what I experienced during these two weeks, far exceeded everything I expected. I have never felt so welcomed ever visiting wineries, everyone took you in, in a very honest and ”hands down” way. May it never change!
The James Busby Trip 2017 was an amazing experience. The diversity of wine regions and wine producers that we visited has given me a great and detailed insight into the Australian wine industry.
From the first night in Melbourne before the tour started, to my last night I can honestly say that the myriad of high quality producers, insane views, and staggering history presented to us was impossible to not be impressed by, and certainly will rank as one of the most meaningful wine tours of my career.
These two weeks have completely reinvigorated my view of the Australian wine industry. The innovation, the diversity, the history, the approach to food and wine, the freshness all speak to an industry re-defining itself and its deserved place among the great wine nations of the world.
Before the trip I thought I already have a good understanding of Australian wines. After spending 14 days in the vineyards and speaking to the producers, I was completely freaked out because I know so little and the producers work so hard to keep thinking everyday how to make better wines!
A journey to a country we think is so far away….What an amazing trip, a great learning curve and an eye opening for me on the dynamic, passion and energy of the wine producers we met. From seeing some of the oldest vines in the world to meeting the new wave of producers.
“I saw the legacy, the evolvement, the ambition, the passion and dedication. Their wines have impressed my palate, but the producers themselves have won my heart!”
“This experience has motivated me to take on an ambassador role for the amazing things that Australia has to offer.”
“What a eyes opening! I’m not leaving with beautiful pictures, but with ideas, contacts, and will be one of the ambassadors of modern Australian wine.”
Great trip! From the way-down-to-earthy guys to the more established operators. Without doubt the best wine trip I’ve ever been on.”
“Changed my mind about a country’s wines. Whole experience was tons of learning and fun! Felt unique, tailored and very special trip, I’m now an ambassador for Oz wine.”
“Extremely well organized and diverse tripe with highlights upon highlights upon highlights… An amazing introduction to the contemporary wine scene in Australia with almost unbelievable enthusiastic and knowledgeable guiding.”
“By far the best wine trip I have ever been on. Perfect balance and diversity of wine, producers and regions. My only regret is that I can’t do this trip every year.”
“By far the most in depth wine tour for professionals trying to understand what’s really going on in Australia.”
“The network you get during the trip, both from your bus-buddies and from the wineries, are outstanding. Simply said, the best wine trip in my life!”
“A memorable eye opener to the vast potential of the new Australia with a good dash of the best of the classics, all elegantly intertwined with a dose of Aussie culture”
“The most instructive, eye-opening and enjoyable wine journey I’ve ever taken. Enough variety to keep a very worldly group engaged for a marathon 14 days.“
“This experience opened my eyes to some of the hidden gems in Australian wine. Exploring the well known and the relatively unknown aspects of Australian wine”
“The Busby trip showed an even more exciting scene than I’d imagined.”
“Unforgettable – for all the right reasons. The Busby trip still defines how I think about Australian wine.”
“Great overview of traditional Australia alongside the contemporary movements. James Busby Travel tells us how good Australian wines are and how good they will be in the future”
James Busby is the founding father of Australian wine. He brought the original vine cuttings from Europe in 1833, which is why Australia has some of the world's oldest pre-phylloxera vines. These days we bring wine buyers not vines, but we think he would have approved.
James Busby Travel is a proudly independent company with no ties or obligations to wineries, distributors or organisations. Wineries from big to boutique are included on our tours based solely on the quality and interest of their wines, stories, personalities and terroir.
Inclusion on a James Busby Travel trip is by invitation only and open only to full time members of the wine trade from Australia's key export markets. If you're an influential retail buyer, sommelier or journalist feel free to drop us a line to ask about the criteria for application.
Those travellers who've been on a James Busby trip automatically become members of our Alumni Community. Alumni receive newsletters keeping them up-to-date with winery news as well as invitations to our Reunion parties, often attended by guest winemakers.
'Its great to have a group of wine aficionados from the other side of the world come to visit. It's a fantastic opportunity to show them how great Australian wines can taste and get them excited about the direction of the Australian wine industry. Tim has managed to capture so many different facets and packed in enough variety in each day to keep a very worldly group engaged for a marathon 14 days."
"For fine Australian wine to garner a place of respect internationally it is critically important that knowledgable, influential professionals and communicators see our vines, our wines and people in order to understand, respect and relay the truth and quality of what we do. There exists a mutual requirement; authenticity of the participants in each James Busby Travel group and authenticity in the itinerary. Both lists comprehensively meet this requirement."
"No matter how creative the words, how vivid the photo or how poetic the story teller, nothing compares to actually visiting a winery. We do things in a unique way at d'Arenberg. We can't expect a sommelier in a London restaurant to understand what that means, why we do it and how it translates to what's in the glass unless we are willing to bring them here and show them.
The James Busby Travel group are just the sort of people that we need to show because we need dedicated life-long advocates of fine Australian wine with a true belief in what we are all about."
"I occupy a very small part of the Australian wine industry in a big country with massive diversity half a world away from where these guys live and work. To be able to sit them down and show them my wines first hand and tell them how/where/why the wine is made is invaluable. It's a pretty rare thing to get a room full of people with that level of passion and interest in learning more about Australian wine. To hear about the respective wine markets and trends in those countries while (trying to) change some opinions about Australian wine and the diversity of style in our market makes it a rare opportunity."
The inaugural Busby group were mainly from the UK, augmented by travellers from Holland and California. We covered two states, fifteen regions, rewrote the rule book and broke new ground everywhere we went. Our tour blogger won her place on the trip via a twitter competition (those were the days!). Jancis the sulphur crested cockatoo became our first tour mascot, and started the tradition of mascot photo bombing at wineries ...naughty Jancis!
The last two weeks have been a revelation. I’ve had to completely reappraise my view of wine in Australia - Sir Donald Edwards, UK
It started off with us gate crashing Bill Granger's cafe in Sydney, then an impromptu party in a mirrored motel room in the Yarra Valley, followed by breakfast schnapps on The Bloody Hill, via a spontaneous group "plank" in McLaren Vale and ended with the dance floor being set on fire at The Settlers Tavern in Margaret River.
Yes Class of 2011, you know who you are.
Great exposure to the best people and top wines - felt VIP! - Lord Richard Hemming MW, UK
With five MWs (count 'em), one MS and The Godfather from Calgary you could say that by 2012 James Busby Travel had come of age. James Halliday missed his Sunday lunch whilst talking chardonnay, we had robust debates with winemakers from Gippsland to the Adelaide Hills to the Barossa Valley and most places in-between. From an air guitar competition in Rutherglen, through punting and squid fishing in McLaren Vale to kegel bowling in the Barossa, the Class of 2012 kept it Vegas Style baby!
I've been on many trade trips but this has been one of the most inspiring and enlightening. My perspective on the diverse wine culture of Australia have been forever changed - Prof Terry Threlfall, Canada
Unsurprisingly 2013 was the year when if something could go wrong it did, from diary mix ups and rained off wildlife in the Adelaide Hills to missing beds and cancelled balloon flights in the Riverland. But it was also the year we laughed the most, so go figure. The Canadian contingent rocked our world with suitably rockstar room parties most nights, and we kidnapped a child's stuffed toy wombat, named him Mr Johnson, and made him our new tour mascot.
Easily one of the most comprehensive trade missions I’ve had the privilege of attending. Attention to detail, in depth masterclasses, far and wide coverage of primary regions in Australia - all added to the unique educational experience - Colonel Chris Funnell, Canada
In 2014 we were big in Japan - and Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, with almost half the group hailing from Asia. We celebrated the 5th Busby trip with some memorable experiences, including tasting birth year fortified wines at Seppeltsfield and hanging out on the deck at Ochota Barrels a year before The Rolling Stones did. Billy Badger took over mascot duties from Mr Johnson and was formally introduced to Leon Bignell, South Australia's Minister for Tourism. (Ben!)
One of the best wine tours I've ever attended - great people, delicious wines and excellent organisation. I wish I could nominate myself for next years trip!" - Lady Rebecca Leung, Hong Kong
How could we go wrong starting with a cruise on Sydney Harbour, stunning weather and Semillon sundowners with fish and chips. 2014 was the year of the Scandinavians, who kept us informed, laughing and resulted in the most professional photos ever taken (just don't mention curry and Pinotage). It was also the year we had to stop using the Busby tagline "Never lost one yet". (Brad?)
A memorable eye opener to the vast potential of the new Australia with a good dash of the best of the classics, all intertwined with a dose of Aussie culture -
Baron Von Andreas Larsson, Sweden
In its sixth year James Busby Travel reinvented itself...by going back to the future! In a repeat of the original itinerary from 2010 we spent two weeks in Victoria and South Australia, driving via Coonawarra. Food took centre stage in 2015 with local produce featuring in a smörgåsbord of Bush BBQs, banquets and feasts. We saw more action & adventure than ever before, from quad bikes and horses, to church pews on tractor trailers plus the legendary squid fishing. 2015 was also the year that Mr Johnson finally broke bad...
By far the most in depth wine tour for professionals trying to understand what’s really going on in Australia - Captain Jesse Rodriguez, California
The coldest and wettest Busby tour ever didn't dampen our spirits as we tasted, laughed and dabbed our way across thirteen wine regions in fourteen days. Making it rain took on a whole new meaning as our LA #LadySomms versed us all in their West Coast ways, whilst we encountered wombats, echidnas, winery dogs and the rare McLaren Vale Lamb-Giraffes. After eight years we seem to be getting the hang of this wine tour thing.
What a eyes opening! In Europe even the top sommeliers don’t know about the tremendous diversity of Australia regions. I’m not leaving with beautiful pictures, I’m leaving with ideas, business contacts, and will be one of the ambassadors of modern Australian wine making. Yes it means I’ll buy some, because even for a Frenchman, they are fantastic. - Sir David Vareille, London
The Lucky 8th Year didn't disappoint, we celebrated a record three birthdays whilst on tour, and our rainbow nation of wine professionals bonded into one big wombat hugging happy family. There were more activities than ever before, from cycling, squidding, melon hurling, pizza baking, punting and stunt cycling. As Ben rightly pointed out - 100% Whole Fun from start to finish.
I promise to sing the gospel of true Australian terroir to any I come across, and try to translate all I have seen and fallen in love with into glass after glass. - Admiral Andrew Stewart, Calgary
After almost ten years we're respectable enough for the Government to want to work with us, but only once!!! The Beyond Busby trip in February 2018 was a joint venture with Wine Australia, where we invited past Alumni back to explore new regions. A bold act of "wish fulfilment" tour planning which went along the lines of, what if we had two weeks, a limitless budget, and didn't need to sleep?
The answer: 5 States, 9 regions, 90 wineries, 572 wines, 7286km. They said it would never be repeated, and they were right.
I thought last time was mind blowing...this was orgasmic in its reach...unreal. Great job. My bison? They're delicious.
- Brigadier Brad Royale, Calgary
AUSTRALIA: the final frontier. These are the voyages of James Busby Travel. Our mission: to explore a strange New World, to seek out new regions and new producers, to boldly taste where no one has tasted before.
Now play the video Mr Spock, and set Flavours to Stun.