Food, wine, what a won­der­ful time!

Big crowds and record sales at fes­ti­val

McIvor Times - - FRONT PAGE - By VANESSA WILT­SHIRE

WHAT are the chances of meet­ing per­fect strangers who have at­tended the Heath­cote Food and Wine Fes­ti­val ev­ery year since its in­cep­tion?

Meet Kira Janowsky and her hus­band, Den­nis Mara­zotto, Heath­cote Wine and Food faith­fuls since the very be­gin­ning.

The McIvor Times chanced upon the duo mid Sun­day af­ter­noon, af­ter they had worked their way around the show­grounds "more than once", and tak­ing some time out to "ad­mire the pretty flo­rals" out­side Vinea Mar­son's tent.

“We have come ev­ery year since the be­gin­ning and have stayed at the Heath­cote Car­a­van Park,” Den­nis said.

“We love the fes­ti­val and we love Heath­cote. Over the years, the wine has re­ally come for­ward in leaps and bounds — it's mag­nif­i­cent. Not just the shi­raz, but the full ar­ray. It's ex­cit­ing.”

Kira, a singer/song­writer who won the 'Min­strel' award at Mal­don Folk Fes­ti­val in 2018, said she was "un­able to taste as many wines as I would have liked", but had still en­joyed the lighter styles, es­pe­cially rose´.

This sen­ti­ment was echoed by pres­i­dent of the Heath­cote Wine­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Ian Hopkins, who said the fes­ti­val was at­tract­ing an "in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated crowd, who are in­ter­ested in sam­pling the full gamut of wines on of­fer".

“There is no doubt that shi­raz is the an­chor point for Heath­cote,” Ian said.

“But the al­ter­nate va­ri­etals like Nero d’avola, Fiano, Ver­mentino are al­most main­stream now. We’re find­ing peo­ple are much more em­brac­ing of the older tra­di­tional Rhone va­ri­etals, in­clud­ing Grenache, Mourvè­dre, Marsanne and Viog­nier.

“The va­ri­ety broad­ens the of­fer­ing of the re­gion as a whole and makes the fes­ti­val much more at­trac­tive.”

With 2650 peo­ple pass­ing through the gates Satur­day and 1100 on Sun­day, event man­ager Jo Moody said a record num­ber of tick­ets were presold.

“2200 tick­ets were sold by 6pm on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 4,” Jo con­firmed.

“It’s a big shift from last year and it's cer­tainly a good sign. It means peo­ple are in­creas­ingly mak­ing plans to at­tend, mark­ing the Heath­cote Wine and Food Fes­ti­val in their cal­en­dar, weeks, if not months in ad­vance.”

Ian added the vast ma­jor­ity of wine­grow­ers were close to their fes­ti­val sales record, if not ex­ceed­ing it.

“At Tel­lurian we’re very close, and sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter sales than last year,” he said.

“Gen­eral feed­back from our mem­bers is along those lines. The vast ma­jor­ity had a far bet­ter Satur­day than last year. Sun­day is about in line with ex­pec­ta­tions.

“One of the great­est ob­ser­va­tions is the qual­ity of the crowd and the mix of fam­i­lies and the older de­mo­graphic en­joy­ing the at­mos­phere.

“There are younger peo­ple too, and ev­ery­one is seek­ing a wine, rather than a drink­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Crit­i­cal to the on­go­ing suc­cess of the fes­ti­val is to build re­la­tion­ships

with and at­tract an au­di­ence who want to learn and get greater understand­ing of what they’re drink­ing; how the grapes are grown and how the wine is made.”

Meet the mak­ers

Heath­cote Win­ery

Peo­ple are re­ally re­cep­tive to try­ing new va­ri­etals. Palate's are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated. Hav­ing the VIP tent, Games on the Green and chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment has helped to at­tract a great crowd.

We’ve no­ticed peo­ple aren’t buy­ing in bulk as much as they used to, we’re sell­ing more by the bot­tle and glass. The fes­ti­val is evolv­ing and it’s great to see the same peo­ple come year af­ter year. You can build a re­la­tion­ship with peo­ple, they come here be­cause it does have a com­mu­nity and fam­ily fo­cus. You can meet and speak with the wine­mak­ers, es­pe­cially on the Sun­day.

— Stephen Oates. Chalmers

This is the first time we’ve par­tic­i­pated at the Heath­cote Wine and Food Fes­ti­val. We weren’t sure what to ex­pect, but the crowds cer­tainly haven’t dis­ap­pointed!

We grow grapes on 80 acres near Col­binab­bin and make our wine in Mil­dura where our win­ery and nurs­ery is. We also have an­other vine­yard there.

We also sell two thirds of our Heath­cote grapes to smaller pro­duc­ers and peo­ple who want to ex­per­i­ment. The vines here are 10 years old. We’ve found fes­ti­val go­ers have been par­tic­u­larly ex­cited to find a good va­ri­ety of whites, and rose´, which has been a hit. Our rarer va­ri­etals — Dott la­bel — have been ex­tremely well re­ceived: Mal­va­sia, Pa­vana and Schiop­pet­tino.

— Kim Chalmers

Red Edge

We’ve just re­leased our sparkling shi­raz for the fes­ti­val. We picked it up on Tues­day and were la­belling on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day. It’s been a quick turn­around, but the sparkling was a hit. It’s on the dry side, a great en­try-point into the reds if you're not used to drink­ing them, or just start­ing to ex­plore wine.

— Gerry Robin­son and Will Dredge

Vinea Mar­son

It’s been a fan­tas­tic week­end. The whole fam­ily is here help­ing, plus some friends. Cus­tomers have said they love the San­giovese. We’ve had a great time and will be back.

— Madeleine Mar­son

Sil­ver Spoon Es­tate

The week­end has been so busy! There’s been solid in­ter­est across the board, es­pe­cially our blends: GST (Grenache, Shi­raz, Tem­pranillo), GSM (Grenache, Shi­raz, Mourvè­dre) and our Mon­ster (Shi­raz 17.3% alc/vol).

— Tra­cie Young

San­guine Es­tate

Crowds this week­end were fan­tas­tic. We were ex­cited to show­case our 2017 In­cep­tion Shi­raz which achieved five stars, a gold medal, at Wines­tate’s 2019 Main­freight World’s Great­est Syrah & Shi­raz Chal­lenge ($40-$45 cat­e­gory), plac­ing sev­enth best shi­raz over­all.

We’re also ex­cited to an­nounce the re­sults from our en­try in the RASQ Mediter­ranean Chal­lenge and Wine Show. Of our 12 wines en­tered, nine got medals, with two gold, one sil­ver and six bronze. Thanks to all of our team and our cus­tomers for such a fan­tas­tic ef­fort.

Thanks to ev­ery­one who par­tic­i­pated in the fes­ti­val, The Heath­cote Wine­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and its mem­bers, vol­un­teers in­clud­ing the Heath­cote Foot­ball and Net­ball Club, Heath­cote Ten­nis Club and kinder­garten. Also food providers, in­clud­ing Fod­der, who supplied the VIP tent with beau­ti­ful ham­pers. Thanks to ev­ery­one who at­tended, es­pe­cially lo­cals and peo­ple from the dis­trict. See you next year!

❏ The team at Vinea Mar­son were thrilled with the ‘ex­cel­lent crowds’ at the Heath­cote Food and Wine Fes­ti­val.

The Red Edge crew cel­e­brate the de­but of their sparkling shi­raz with Stephen Oates and Eu­gene Mee­gan.

❏ The Heath­cote Win­ery team.

Den­nis Mara­zotto and Kira Janowsky have at­tended the fes­ti­val ev­ery year.

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