Family festival for all
The old gold mining town of Clyde with its many 19th century buildings and surrounding schist-covered hills and mountains is the home of the annual Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival. Now in its eleventh year, this site gives the festival a unique atmosphere for an event which has grown from humble beginnings, to be now ranked as the premiere wine event in Central Otago. What makes this event different and rather unique is that it offers other attractions which help make the festival a family-orientated event as well as a good day out. It started as a wine tasting event run by a couple of local restaurants on Easter Sunday back in 2001, with the community invited to take part and the Clyde businesses that were involved agreeing to underwrite the costs if it failed. Part of the main street was closed for the afternoon and the festival was attended by about nine local vineyards and a couple of food stalls. From that event a cheque for $1858.33 was presented to the Clyde Promotions Group which subsequently donated $1000 to ‘‘Friends of Dunstan Hospital’’. And the rest, as they say is History, with ‘Promote Dunstan’ now responsible for the organisation of the annual Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival. The festival is very much a local community event, celebrating the locally produced wine, with participation restricted to growers and wineries south of the Clyde Dam - Clyde, Earnscleugh, and Alexandra - which are home to the world’s most southerly vineyards. The first festival had about nine wine producers and that number has climbed to over 20 selling the internationally renowned pinot noir plus other varieties including gewu¨ rtztraminer, chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and rose. Over the years public attendance has grown to more than 5,500 last year with overseas tourists and visitors from other parts of New Zealand travelling to Central just for the festival. As part of its host responsibility, Promote Dunstan hires a bus from Central Motorways in Alexandra to shuttle people between Alexandra and Clyde for most of the day. This year for the first time, those attending will be issued with wristbands which will act as a helping hand for those selling wine to determine the age of people.