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

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