Grape es­cape to draw in pa­trons

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

Re­gional food and wine pro­duc­ers are set to cap­i­talise on a large and cap­tive au­di­ence for this year’s Grampians Grape Es­cape, with ticket sales up more than 30 per­cent on last year.

Grampians Grape Es­cape, at Halls Gap Recre­ation Re­serve on Satur­day and Sun­day, is one of Aus­tralia’s long­est-run­ning food and wine fes­ti­vals.

Fea­tur­ing more than 120 stalls, the fes­ti­val is mar­keted as ‘the ul­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence for any wine, food and mu­sic lover’.

Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Slee­man said early sales and a pleas­ant weather fore­cast had gen­er­ated plenty of buzz around Halls Gap.

“One of the most pos­i­tive things is that out of those ticket sales, 35 per­cent of peo­ple are com­ing to the Grampians Grape Es­cape for the first time,” he said.

“To con­tinue to at­tract so many new­com­ers to the fes­ti­val is a great thing for the re­gion and ob­vi­ously means our mar­ket­ing is go­ing well.

“We’re po­si­tioned three hours from Mel­bourne and we are lucky to have half a mil­lion residents within a cou­ple of hours of the Grampians.

“We have a fantastic catch­ment on which to draw and the event is al­ways well sup­ported.

“Grampians Tourism has had a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Grampians Grape Es­cape and it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to en­sure the Grampians is front of mind in key mar­kets such as Mel­bourne and Ade­laide and to po­si­tion our re­gion as a ‘must do’.”

The Grampians boasts some of Aus­tralia’s most distin­guished wine­mak­ers, along with qual­ity pro­duce.

Mr Slee­man said busi­nesses ben­e­fit­ted from sub­stan­tial cash sales of prod­ucts and pro­duce on the day.

“The flow-on ef­fects to busi­nesses are also sig­nif­i­cant and in­clude re­peat vis­i­ta­tion and dis­per­sal across the re­gion,” he said.

“The Grampians Grape Es­cape is al­most an en­trée of the re­gion’s wine and pro­duce and it brings peo­ple back to the re­gion. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple might want to visit the cel­lar door of a win­ery they are in­tro­duced to at the fes­ti­val or visit a busi­ness to see where their pro­duce comes from.”

Fes­ti­val co-di­rec­tor Vanessa Bri­ody said this year’s guest chefs, Paul West from River Cot­tage Aus­tralia and Matt Sin­clair, Masterchef AU and The Cook’s Pantry, would use tick­eted work­shops to show­case the re­gion’s of­fer­ings.

“This year we’ve teamed Paul up with award-win­ning butcher, Pyrenees Pre­mium Cuts, for a head-to-tail butch­ery mas­ter­class. The class will go through the dif­fer­ent cuts of meat, the ver­sa­til­ity of pork and nose to tail cook­ing,” she said.

“Matt Sin­clair will use Grampians Wild Lamb in his demon­stra­tion and will also present, to­gether with Ro­han Erard from Steel Cut­ters Cot­tage, a new workshop on the art of build­ing a duck ter­rine, while par­tic­i­pants en­joy a glass of Subrosa wine.”

Ms Bri­ody said tick­eted work­shops were a new fea­ture this year, de­signed for en­thu­si­asts want­ing to ramp up their food and bev­er­age ex­pe­ri­ence.

The fes­ti­val, now in its 27th year, also of­fers plenty of live mu­sic across the week­end. “There is a nice mix of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional artists,” Ms Bri­ody said.

“Mu­sic can be en­joyed out­side of fes­ti­val hours too, with Mon­tara Wines host­ing Soul Chic on Fri­day night and the Halls Gap Hotel Live Ses­sions hap­pen­ing Fri­day through to Sun­day.”

Fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers have also en­sured a va­ri­ety of chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­vide a fam­ily friendly event.

Adult ticket prices start at $30 and range up to $110 for a com­plete tast­ing ticket week­end ex­pe­ri­ence.

The fes­ti­val is free for chil­dren up to five years of age, with $15 week­end tick­ets for youth aged six to 17.

Peo­ple can visit www.grampians­grapeescape.com.au to buy tick­ets and for more in­for­ma­tion.

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