COVID CHAOS HALTS THE GRAPE ESCAPE
For the second consecutive year, the Grampians’ popular food and wine festival has been cancelled. The Grampians Grape Escape, first held in 1992 and then known as the Halls Gap Gourmet Weekend, attracts thousands of visitors to the region on the first weekend in May each year. Previous events featured the likes of Nancy Panter from wine label SubRosa (below).
The havoc created by COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s event and a recent announcement confirmed the 2021 festival had suffered the same fate. Festival co-director, Kate Kirkpatrick, says the decision was devastating.
“We love this event,” she says. “We are so passionate about the region and everything it stands for – the producers and the quality of the wine here. To not have [the event] is just heartbreaking.”
The festival traditionally attracts more than 100 stallholders, showcasing the full spectrum of regional flavours. Wine tastings, masterclasses, cooking demonstrations, live music and family entertainment add to the buzz.
Although the event cannot be staged, organisers are encouraging ticketholders to keep their accommodation bookings and enjoy the Grampians in a COVID-safe way. There will be a number of smaller wine events held across the weekend. “You’ve got lots of amazing walks, the cultural activities … and then all of our great restaurants that have opened up in the last few years and, of course, the wine,” says Kirkpatrick. “There’s so much on offer. It’s pretty magic and empowering.”
Tickets will be honoured for next year’s festival, or ticketholders can request a refund. The 2022 staging will run from 30 April to 1 May. grampiansgrapeescape.com.au