Despite the interruption of over a week of coronavirus restrictions in South Australia, Coonawarra Vignerons’ Cellar Dwellers festival is on track to be a big success for the region’s wineries. According to Coonawarra Vignerons executive marketing and event officer Heidi Eldridge, feature events within the July-long festival program have been immensely popular, with tickets hard to come by for the remainder of the month.
“Demand for feature events has been incredible,” Ms Eldridge told The SE Voice. “Wineries hosting ticketed events such as winemaker dinners, long lunches, masterclasses and high teas have seen seats sell out well in advance of the event date.” Wine lovers still wishing to attend events during Cellar Dwellers need not despair, with several feature events still to come over the last few weekends.
Among them is Raidis Estate’s Back Vintage Bar on July 24, the Mount Gambier Coonawarra Wine Festival featuring seven Coonawarra wineries at Jens Hotel on July 25, and Bellwether’s Campfire Roast event, on the last weekend of the month. Coonawarra Vignerons executive officer Ockert Le Roux highlighted what to expect from Bellwether’s event.
“Bellwether’s Campfire, Roast, Stories & Music on July 31 offers a night of stories, camp food and tasty wines around a campfire under the stars,” he said, adding guests could their own guitars. Nancy Bates will provide music and entertainment. The past weekend at Cellar Dwellers was highlighted by the Back Vintage Regional Tasting, held at Hollick Estates on Friday night, which saw 15 wineries showcase aged drops up to 23 years cellared that will not be seen anywhere else.
At least 30 wines were on show, inlcuding Zema Estate Wines’ 1998 Shiraz, a magnum of Rymill Coonawarra’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and Katnook Estate’s 2010 Aged Riesling. “It was a fabulous showcase and demonstration of how well Coonawarra’s wines age, limited not only to Coonawarra’s reds, but whites and sparkling as well,” Ms Eldridge said.
Aside from just tasting the wines in the room, attendees at the event were invited to partake in a blind tasting challenge, which saw three wines from within the room bagged and poured for blind assessment. Penola local Wayne Matheson won the challenge, identifying all three wine varieties and two of the three producers.
Mr Le Roux said the Back Vintage Tasting event was attended by over 70 guests, many of who stayed on for dinner in the Hollick Estates’ Upstairs restaurant. In addition, at Cellar Dwellers’ other events, tickets were sold out and guests from across SA and Victoria enjoyed exclusive wine tastings, degustation dinner events, long lunches, museum wine tastings, cooking classes and high tea sessions.
The Trotter family’s High Tea at The Blok Coonawarra was “as popular as ever,” Mr Le Roux said, with Ann’s traditional family recipes delivering savouries, sweet treats and scones all served in vintage China and silverware. While over at Parker Coonawarra Estate, Cindy Cross from The Post and Rail presented ‘Master the Art of Curries’ to 20 eager aspiring chefs.
Participants cooked up a storm with dishes such as Garlic Naan, Pork Katsu Don, Beef Vindaloo and Thai Green Chicken Curry, which were enjoyed afterward by pairing Parker wines with the various curry dishes. “Besides the festival events on our program, many visitors made the best of the sunny weather and visited the Coonawarra cellar doors on day trips, enjoying a drop of Coonawarra wines and a range of lunch offerings” Mr Le Roux said.