With a background in legal publishing and technical writing, I enjoy sharing slightly less formal accounts of fun things to see and do.
Feasting, fire pits - and a splash of shiraz
The Bellarine Peninsula loves a good festival. While it has plenty of its own festive goodness to offer (including the summer sell-out Queenscliff Music Festival, the Portarlington Mussel Festival, the National Celtic Music Festival and many more), it also embraces regional events as part of the Greater Geelong area. And the fourth Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival on 6 & 7 July 2019, is ripe for the picking.
The Bellarine also loves a good wine. As a result, just over half of the 29 participating wineries in the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival are based on the Bellarine, alongside those from the Surf Coast and Moorabool Valley.
Each of the wineries has put together its own unique program for the weekend, so there is plenty on offer. From full degustation dinners (Jack Rabbit Vineyard), French-inspired share plates (Terindah Estate) and artisan Cuvee chocolates (Oakdene Wines), to live local music (several venues) and old school vinyl (Bellbrae Estate). There are also lots of great deals to be had for shiraz lovers. Many vineyards are offering 10-20% off takeaway wines, 6 pack specials, and glasses of Yes said the Seal shiraz will be half price all weekend at the Flying Brick Cider Co.
It's possible to combine visiting perhaps 4 or 5 venues in a single day, so you can pick and choose your own itinerary from the Program of Events:https://wintershiraz.com.au/
A good starting point could be attending a Shiraz Masterclass for a more in-depth experience with the winemaker, and adding visits to other vineyards before or after the class. There are various options available with three Masterclasses advertised on the Bellarine, and one in the Moorabool Valley. As numbers are limited (to around 20 people in most cases) it is essential to book in advance. This is done directly with the winery, with full contact details in the Program of Events.
Meet the Maker, Will Derham of Banks Road Vineyard
Banks Road Vineyard is offering one hour Shiraz Masterclasses, where you can taste and discuss premium vintages from their cellars, plus others from different regions of Australia including the Grampians and the Barossa Valley. For $30 per person, it includes wine tastings and a cheese platter. Led by Banks Road Vineyard winemaker, Will Derham. Bookings call 0431 896 331
Leura Park Estate will hold two hour Shiraz Masterclass sessions, which include tastings from a range of barrels in various stages of fermentation. Five vintages will be covered, including the award-winning Vintage 2013. $50 per person also includes a premium bottle of Shiraz to take home (RRP $45). Led by winemaker of Leura Park Estate and Yes said the Seal, Darren Burke. Bookings via Leuraparkestate.com.au
Scotchmans Hill is providing a three-course lunch with its Shiraz Masterclass. For $80 per person you will be guided through a range of current and selected Cellar Reserve wines, and enjoy a three-course lunch curated from local ingredients. Led by chief winemaker Robin Brockett and senior winemaker Marcus Holt. Bookings via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Provenance Wines in the Moorabool Valley is also offering a Shiraz Masterclass, with a focus on Old World versus New World wines. $25 per person includes tastings plus a cheese and charcuterie platter. Bookings call (03) 5222 3422 or www.provenancewines.com.au/whats-on
Whether you simply head to your favourite spot among the vines for the afternoon or decide to spend the day winery-hopping around the region, there will be plenty to sample and explore. If you do not have a designated driver, there are charter bus and private tour options available, which are also detailed in the Program of Events.
It is also worth noting the festival program makes it clear that kids are welcome. One of the great things about vineyards is there is always plenty of outdoor space to spread out (and burn off some energy), so bring warm jackets and practical footwear.
After all, everyone - not just the kids - loves a good winter fire pit.
Why? Get out of the city, celebrate winter days with good food and wine, learn something new in a Masterclass, and make room in the book for some takeaway bargains. Just remember to decide who is driving in advance, or organise transport. Family-friendly.