Winery Walkabout returns!
Rutherglen’s most celebrated festival Winery Walkabout will return next weekend after a two-year hiatus, showcasing the best of North-East Victoria’s celebrated wine and produce.
For more than 40 years, the annual walkabout feast has attracted wine lovers to the Rutherglen region over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
The much-anticipated event returns after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the physical event for two years in a row.
Winemakers of Rutherglen are still unsure how this year’s festival will compare after the long break, however, the last Winery Walkabout held in 2019 saw a record-breaking crowd with just over 16,500 people attending the iconic festival.
The 2021 event will feature over 19 Rutherglen wineries with something to taste, sip and savour behind every cellar door. Over two days, food and wine enthusiasts will have the chance to discover some of the region’s stand-out wines.
Some wineries will also be hosting extra events across the weekend;
Cofield Wines is hosting the Sparkling Burgundy Breakfast where guests can enjoy a gourmet three coarse breakfast, topped off with some wines. De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate will hold a Queens Birthday Royal Lunch where guests are encouraged to dress to theme. Over at Pfeiffer Wines there’s something for everybody with food and wine galore to be enjoyed in the most iconic setting and a juke box available for partygoers.
Cofield Wines event coordinator and wine club administrator Taylor Sturzaker told the Free Press that the winery was thrilled to be welcoming back visitors and locals to Victoria’s favourite wine festival.
“We are absolutely looking forward to having people back at the winery but also benefiting Rutherglen’s tourism as a whole,” Ms Sturzaker said.
“We cannot wait to see people all dressed up in their innovative costumes and enjoying all that Rutherglen has to offer.
“Here at Cofield Wines, we will be showcasing out new VIP reserve area on the lawn. We will also have our famous Sweet Ava Moscato slushies, live music with SMAC and of course our popular Sparkling Burgundy Breakfast. It’s going to be a great party”
Over at John Gehrig Wines, the vibes will be a little more relaxed.
Owner/operator Meghan Gehrig said she was looking forward to seeing families enjoy everything the family winery has to offer.
“It’s great to see the event return,” Ms Gehrig said.
“Over the last few months, we’ve enjoyed seeing the number of visitors up. It’s been really great.
“For Winery Walkabout weekend we are offering our legendary bacon and egg rolls, perfect for those travelling from Albury Wodonga to kickstart the day. Moscato POP is also back.
“Our winery is the perfect place to reunite with friends and family and our spacious lawn is perfect for children and those who want to enjoy a more laid-back day.”
Campbells Wines Managing Director Jane Campbell said she was looking forward to hosting visitors over the Queen’s Birthday weekend once again.
“We are all looking forward to seeing people back in the region for the long weekend. It’s what Rutherglen’s been known for the past 47 years,” she said.
“It’s always a fun weekend and we love seeing people enjoy Rutherglen and the region during winter.”
Ms Campbell said the last six months has seen great visitation numbers to the winery.
“We’ve been absolutely flat out,” The fifth-generation winemaker said.
“We’ve been fortunate with COVID to be able to keep growing grapes and producing great wine. Our cellar door has been as busy as ever. It’s been wonderful.
“So many people have discovered Rutherglen and the region, and they love it as much as we do.”
Campbells Wines will offer a selection of wines including their 50th Vintage Bobbie Burns Shiraz and world famous muscat for tasting. Live music will also be offered by Scott and Amanda on the beautiful winery lawns.
One of the newest additions to the Winemakers of Rutherglen collective is Olive Hills Estate. The family-owned estate run by the Perry family are looking forward to being part of their first ever Winery Walkabout.
“We are very excited but also a bit nervous!” Kay Perry told The Free Press.
“We believe it will be a beauty. It’s been so lovely seeing increased visitation over the last few months. We have a very loyal clientele who continue to come back so we cannot wait to host them again.
“After two years, it will be interesting to see a new a sector as well as the usual die-hards.
The winery will be the ideal setting for those wanting to enjoy elegant wines, a hearty pastry and local produce platters by the fire with live music on offer.
Festivities will carry on throughout the region with the Rutherglen Rotary Country Fair also taking place on Sunday, giving people an opportunity to meet the producers behind the region. The Country fair typically attracts up 400 market stall sites, entertainment, buskers and the popular Rutherglen Apex Grape Stomp and Barrel Races and has been sorely missed over the last two years.
Head to winerywalkabout.com.au for ticketing and more information on the weekend.