The Coonawarra Wine Region is gearing up for a busy month ahead, as the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations Wine Festival returns this October.
And, with uninterrupted cross border travel, interstate visitors are expected to come in their droves to soak up the celebrations, having missed out on the event due to restrictions the past 2 years.
A highlight on the Limestone Coast’s event calendar, the festival is designed to showcase and celebrate Coonawarra’s signature variety, Cabernet Sauvignon, and boasts a program of over 60 events across 5 weeks, with no small number of Cabernets and other fantastic wines to be tasted as part of festivities.
The month-long festival, hosted by the Coonawarra Vignerons, kicks off on Saturday 1st October with bespoke tastings and special events taking place at cellar doors and wineries across the region.
From high end wine dinners to vertical tastings, winery tours to masterclasses, exhibitions to workshops, the region will offer wine enthusiasts the opportunity to experience and discover the best of Coonawarra, and with October offering up five weekends, organisers have themed each one to appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
Heidi Guyett, Events & Marketing Manager of Coonawarra Vignerons said there will be plenty of opportunities for wine aficionados, foodies and families alike to explore and experience Coonawarra, whilst enjoying the world-class wines, country hospitality and sense of community.
“This year’s program is as extensive as ever with over 60 food and wine experiences to be enjoyed. There’ll be events where guests can sample vintages a decade old (- or older!), dine with winemakers and boutique winery owners, go behind the scenes in the winery, or taste wines that are yet to be officially released, all the while learning about the process and the passion that goes into Coonawarra’s famed wines.” Mrs Guyett said.
“We are particularly excited about the return of our cross-border neighbours. Victorians have always been among the most engaged and loyal audience for our region. They love coming to our events and we are seeing that they are as eager as ever to make up for lost time” said Guyett.
“Across the board we are seeing great demand for ticketed events. Unlike other large scale wine festivals, many events featured in the program tend to be very intimate in nature, which is half of the appeal. Visitors are almost guaranteed to spot the owner or winemaker floating around, be it pouring wines, talking to their products or sharing their passion for growing and winemaking in Coonawarra”, Guyett added.
The first weekend will see the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations Golf Day and Family Fiesta kick off the month-long festival, coinciding with South Australia’s Labour Day Long weekend on Saturday 1 – Monday 3 October.
The following weeks will see themes around blending wine and the marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon with other varieties, a weekend tribute to the original festival – which historically took place on one single weekend, along with an exclusive look at new release wines – ‘from barrel to glass’, wrapping up with a ‘showtime’ theme on the weekend of the local Penola show.
“Coonawarra’s wineries go to great lengths to make sure that there is a variety of offerings to suit a whole range of visitors. From lawn games to nature play, cooking classes, chocolate, cheese and wine tastings, as well as live music, there’s so much to choose from! The hardest part really will be deciding where to go first!” Guyett said.
Leconfield Coonawarra has been involved in the festival since it’s inception and will kick off their celebrations with a ‘Great Day Out’ on Saturday 1 October, offering visitors an afternoon of live music, food, wine and fun on the winery lawns.
Local duo Christy & Jason Wallace will be performing on the day and Cellar Door Manager Kerrie Marcus is looking forward to welcoming back the crowds for a relaxing afternoon – the perfect way to spend Saturday of the long weekend.
“It’s always such a great event with a great atmosphere. We have such a loyal following of visitors that come back year after year. As the wine flows, so does the fun! We invite families to come along, pack a picnic rug or make themselves at home at the tables & chairs provided” Mrs Marcus said.
Another of the feature events in the calendar is the Regional Cabernet Decade[nce] Tasting, which has long been a highlight in the festival program.
“This combined winery event brings together up to 15 producers and winemakers in one location to taste and compare wines 10 years and older along side current release Cabernets. Not all of our producers have cellar doors, so this is a great opportunity for them to be involved in the festival, and for guests to taste their wines and meet the faces behind them.” Mrs Guyett said.
Tickets to the tasting are $40pp and are available to purchase online, and interested parties are advised to book in quickly to avoid disappointment.
The Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations Masterclass also returns as a feature event in the October program for the first time in 2 years and is already proving to be a highly sought after event. Hosted by the Coonawarra Vignerons together with Langton’s, the Masterclass will showcase the 2019 Vintage with a lineup of 6 International Cabernets from regions such as Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Hawkes Bay, alongside 6 of Coonawarra’s own premium Langton’s classified wines.
Acclaimed Coonawarra winemaker Sue Hodder of Wynns Coonawarra Estate will be leading the session alongside Ned Goodwin Master of Wine, and looks forward to presenting outstanding examples of the variety from around the world.
“The 2019 vintage has been heralded as ‘exceptional’ for the traditional Cabernet regions globally. This Masterclass will provide an opportunity to taste the versatility of this noble grape from noted wine makers from around the world.” Ms. Hodder said.
For those venturing to the region, navigating your way around Coonawarra is a breeze with the region’s cellar doors all scattered along one stretch of road, and a shuttle bus hop-on hop- off service is available each weekend of October to transport festival-goers to and from events.
A Mount Gambier transfer bus will also be running from the Blue Lake City to Coonawarra on the first 3 Saturday’s of the month – Saturday 1st, 8th and 15th to assist and encourage eager festival goers to join the celebrations, without the dilemma of arranging a designated driver. Tickets for the shuttle and Mount Gambier transfer bus can be purchased online, and passengers are encouraged to book ahead to secure their seat.
The festival is made possible by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia with funding made available through the Regional Events and Festival Program.
With spring in full flight, there’s no better time to soak up Coonawarra. Take the time to celebrate, educate + activate your senses from 1 to 31 October 2022.