Queenstown wine growers will celebrate the 2013 grape harvest with a ‘new look’ event to showcase the region’s wine and food.
Wine growers in Gibbston will throw open their doors on Saturday March 16 to celebrate the upcoming harvest with the new Gibbston Wine and Food Festival.
Winery co-hosts Mt. Rosa and Brennan Wines will welcome food and wine-lovers from across the country to sample the region’s finest wines and epicurean delights while being entertained by an excellent line-up of events and family fun.
Organiser Julie Hughes said the festival had been hugely successful on the local calendar over the last six years when it was known as the Gibbston Harvest Festival.
“The change of name really reflects a new emphasis for us,” she said. “It remains a harvest celebration, with all the associated buzz, but the focus for next year is on sharing and showcasing Gibbston’s world-famous wines complemented by the region’s finest produce and talented chefs.”
Visitors will be able to taste wine from eighteen wineries across the two winery venues, alongside ten stalls featuring a wide selection of local fare.
The line-up next year will feature one of New Zealand’s most awarded Pinot Noir winemakers Grant Taylor of Valli Vineyards.
Gibbston wine pioneer and industry stalwart Alan Brady said winemakers loved to celebrate and share their passion.
“It’s just 31 years since I planted the first vines in Gibbston, a mere ‘blink’ in the history of wine. But already we're building a big reputation for our wines worldwide and in the process establishing our own traditions.
“This festival is one of them, our chance to celebrate our harvest with the wider community who've supported us over the years.”
Ms Hughes said that for wine lovers it was a rare treat to be part of the celebrations and to sample award-winning wines, as well as talk to passionate and pioneering winemakers and viticulturists.
“But we’ve recognised that it’s not only about wine. Otago is also known for its outstanding fresh local produce and meats such as venison, olive oils, cheeses and stone fruits, and the range of reputable chefs whose menus feature in local restaurants and lodges.”
Harvest will not be the only celebration at the Gibbston Wine and Food Festival, as local school Arrowtown Primary will commemorate its 150 years of education by launching a special blend wine made from grapes crushed by pupils, with a label also designed by a pupil.
Ms Hughes said the event had always attracted a big local crowd but with the expanded programme, affordable price tag, wine celebrities and culinary focus, it was expected to appeal to a regional and visitor audience.
“After six years of perfecting the festival and with the support from local associations and tourism-related businesses, we’re excited to take the festival to a wider audience,” she said.
“Queenstown is only 25 minutes’ drive from Gibbston so for its national and international visitors the festival is an excellent reason to take time off in glorious autumn and enjoy the delights and hospitality on offer.
“Queenstown and the surrounding region have very distinct seasons, so visitors can enjoy the magic of the changing autumn colours while sharing good food and wine in a spectacular setting.”
Local wine associations including the Central Otago Winegrowers Association and Central Otago Pinot Noir Limited, along with accommodation providers and tour operators, are all supporting and promoting the festival nationally, while ensuring it retains its local ‘flavour’ and ‘all ages’ appeal.
The festival will run from 11am to approximately 5pm. Entry for the day is just $15 per person which includes a memento glass and three tasting tokens. Children 12 and under are free of charge.
Buses will be available to transport festival-goers to and from Queenstown with pick-up points along the way.