I'm a freelance writer who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula. I enjoy finding new things to see and do in the beautiful area that I live in.
If you're an avid wine-drinker and live in Victoria, chances are that you've heard of Geelong's Toast To The Coast - an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors to the region to help celebrate premium wines, live entertainment and fine dining in the vineyards of the Bellarine, Moorabool Valley and the Surf Coast.
This is the event's 11th year, and is a favourite for locals and tourists alike. Held on the Melbourne Cup Weekend, Toast To The Coast provides visitors with a fantastic opportunity to tour some of the best vineyards the Geelong region has to offer, and is a weekend of wine, food and fun for all involved.
For $40, you can purchase a weekend pass that includes entry to all of the host vineyards, as well as a commemorative Geelong Wine glass, which is your passport for free wine tastings throughout the entire weekend . This year, there are 15 host vineyards spread out across Moorabool Valley, the Surf Coast and the Bellarine, with some of them providing for smaller guest wineries. In all, over 30 Geelong wineries will be represented over the weekend, and each have their own quality wines on offer.
A detailed program is available online (click here), but each winery participating will have a host of activities for visitors to enjoy. There will be live music performances at most of the venues, as well as a few out-of-the-ordinary experiences at selected venues. Clyde Park in Bannockburn will be offering complimentary massages and a bric-a-brac stall, McGlashan's Wallington Estate will have a classic car exhibition on show, and Oakdene in Wallington is offering a train tour of the property, including the chance to see alpacas and llamas. Some of the wineries will be more family-orientated, such as Austins Wines in Sutherlands Creek, which will have face painting and a jumping castle, while others like Moorabool Ridge in Lethbridge are ignoring all the hoopla in favour of a chilled and relaxed atmosphere among nature.
As well as wine and brewery tours, and cider production demonstrations, there will also be a variety of foods available at each of the venues. You can purchase a meal from one of the restaurants, or you could wander around the stalls that will be set up by local providores and producers. Much of the produce, including olives, cheeses and seafood, are unique to the region and are of the highest quality, which will make a perfect accompaniment to whichever wine you choose to indulge in over the weekend.
There will also be shuttle buses running between each of the venues, so that you have the opportunity to visit as many vineyards as possible over the weekend without becoming a danger to other motorists. Shuttle bus tickets are $25 and are valid for the whole weekend. These will run between the wineries of each region, with a 'loop' every half hour. Shuttle bus schedules, touring maps and other event information is available to view on the website.
Many of the wineries that are taking part in this wonderful festival are award-winners, and quite a few have received top ratings from renowned wine reviewers such as James Halliday and Jeremy Oliver. This is your chance to taste the best cool climate wines and regional produce that Geelong has to offer, and will be well worth the price of a ticket.