Grape escape to draw in patrons
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.