After a two-year gap on food and wine events, everyone is keen to make this year’s various festivals bigger and better than ever. If that’s not reason enough, though, here are a couple more to make a festival visit in the coming months.
Walking through the buzzing crowd of a large hall, there’s everything that your mind can imagine — cheeses, cold meats, pastries, sweets, and other local produce. Of course, there’s wine, lots of it and all available to taste and buy to enjoy at home. I’m in Adelaide Hills, a region well-known for some of the best quality food and wine in the country — no wonder I’ve been enjoying myself!
I turn the corner, and now I am in the Yarra Valley, then Hunter, followed by Great Western and Margaret River. How much fun is it to be able to jump from one spot to the other, without leaving one room? Festivals, especially big ones, are a great way to experience what different regions around the country have to offer within one space. And while it might be slightly contradictory to the true spirit of an avid traveller who would choose to immerse themselves into regions by being there, I would argue festivals are a great way to do research and get a feel for a place before you commit to a longer visit.
For me, one of the biggest benefits of going to festivals lies in experiences that can be missed even when you’re in the region itself. Many small producers of food and wine don’t necessarily have a shopfront or a cellar door and rely on external events and wholesale distribution to sell their products. This means that as a visitor, you get to experience things you might not have the chance to try even in the region itself. I live in the Yarra Valley and still, every time I go to a festival, I uncover a new brand of something local I’ve never tried before — just that is worth the experience.
Also, have you tried making a booking at a winery for more than 10 people lately? How far in advance did you have to book? With everyone eager to get back into the outing and restaurant scene, and nation-wide staff shortages, availabilities are scarce, and for a larger group of people events offer far better flexibility. Plus, there’s never going to be a need to pick cuisine or wine that satisfies everyone in the group — there’s a huge variety of food and wine up for grabs and everyone gets to enjoy what they truly love. So, if you’re planning a catch up with a larger group of people, taking your party to a festival may prove to be much easier to navigate.
Last, but not least, what is a festival without an extensive entertainment program? Music performances, entertainers, VIP experiences, meet the winemaker presentations and celebrity chef cook-ups are all on the menu of the major food and wine events. Some festivals also run their activities throughout several days or a week. This makes them a perfect event to be treated as a mini holiday or a get-away with friends and family.
Up to Taste!
Five Wine Festivals Coming Up
Good Food and Wine Show (various dates — Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane)
Being one of the larger festivals throughout the year, the Good Food and Wine show enjoys popularity among visitors for the variety of their offerings. With hundreds of exhibitors from all regions of Australia, it’s a great place to be, if you want it all. With celebrity chef presentations, masterclasses, and great atmosphere throughout, this is one not to miss!
Pinot Palooza (various dates — Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)
Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio — love a pinot, you need to go! This event is predominantly one to celebrate one of people’s favourite grape varieties — Pinot Noir — and offers a great line-up of some of the best producers from Australia and New Zealand. The festival vibe is great, with live music and plenty of fun to be had as you taste your way through the pinot spectrum.
Clare Valley Gourmet Week (13–22 May, Clare, SA)
A gourmet weekend, turned into gourmet week in the last couple of years, this event must be among the longest wine festivals in the country. Celebrating everything ‘food and wine’, there are a series of mini-events, dinners and masterclasses scattered throughout Clare Valley, all telling the story of the region today and the history of wine and local produce.
Shortest Lunch (18 June, Yarra Valley, VIC)
I like this one because it’s close to home and, also, I think it’s very quirky. Celebrating the Winter Solstice and the shortest weekend of the year, the shortest lunch is a day-long affair. With a variety of small local producers offering event deals on food and wine packages, paired with live entertainment, the idea is that you eat and drink your way across a few venues to get a good feel for what the region’s boutique producers have to offer.
Winter Reds (29–31 July, Adelaide Hills)
Open fires, comfort slow-cooked food and red wines give this festival a very authentic rustic flare. Held across a winter weekend in Adelaide Hills, this festival celebrates iconic venues, live music performances and local art.