14/11/2006 - 21:00

Culture vultures head south for the Margaret River wine festival

14/11/2006 - 21:00


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It’s on again; the biggest and most keenly awaited wine event on the local calendar – the Margaret River Wine Region Festival.

Culture vultures head south for the Margaret River wine festival

It’s on again; the biggest and most keenly awaited wine event on the local calendar – the Margaret River Wine Region Festival.

From today and through the weekend (November 16-19), the festival will provide an eclectic mix of world-class wines, cuisine, produce, art and entertainment in one location.

The festival is now in its 15th consecutive year, with this year’s theme of ‘Hear It’ designed to celebrate the relationship between music and wine culture.

And it is little wonder that this year’s theme should be dedicated to music, given that in recent times Margaret River tourism boffins have so successfully branded their region with music festivals and concert events.

The Leeuwin, Sandalford and Voyager concert series are evidence that the business of running a winery can be well serviced by the sounds of music.

Already organisers for the 2006 festival have set a feverish tempo, listing more than 50 events for wine, food and music that officially cover the four days. These will be split across 27 venues dotted over more than 80 kilometres of forests, pristine beaches, hectares of lush vineyards and surf breaks.

The spiritual centre and the official launch of the festival has always been ‘Fusion’, a frenetic paced kaleidoscope of wineries and local producers who pack into Cowaramup, just outside of Margaret River.

Since the idea behind Fusion was first hit upon three years ago, and has proved so successful, it has now become a main feature of the festival.

On Friday November 19 the Queen Street progressive feast will be held, bringing Busselton into the spotlight. The event includes a progressive dinner of tapas from local restaurants matched with wine and entertainment – a kind of mobile street party that encourages participants to stroll down the town’s main street.

On Saturday, 30 wineries, boutique brewers, local chefs and musicians will join forces to create a true fusion of the tastes and sounds of the region. If you only get to one event, Fusion is a must because it offers an almost complete snapshot of what is on offer.

Other unique events scheduled for Saturday include the Bushshack Brewery’s bush wackers bash, a Margaret River retrospective at Brookwood Winery, and concerts series at Swing & Roundabouts, Wills Domain and others.

On Saturday night, Leeuwin Estate will ignite a bonfire of vine cuttings to celebrate the year of winemaking, and Cape Grace Wines will host the regional dinner at Newtown House with a five-course feast.

Those who can make it through until Sunday will be rewarded with some of the festival’s best events.

Newtown House is backing up from its regional dinner the night before to host the harvest market in the morning, while Cape Mentelle Winery will host an outdoor art market set among its vines.

But for those after something different for breakfast then perhaps a yum cha morning at Vasse Felix would be more your speed. This feast of Asian-inspired delicacies paired with local wines has been an event that has created quite a bit of buzz since head chef Aaron Carr announced the event several  weeks ago.

In addition, Sandalford Wines has chosen to continue the very successful series of ‘meet the masters’ events, where winemakers and viticulturist interact and answer questions in a unique cellar door setting.

And as the sun slowly sets of Sunday, drawing the festival to a close, Clairault will host is immensely popular degustation lunch.

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory will endeavour to reveal some of the secrets of its chocolate making process, Eagle Vale will host jazz on the lawn, and Xanadu Wines return to the fold with an innovative circus act scheduled.

Now in her 5th year as architect of the event, festival director Perpetua McInnes is hoping to eclipse the festival’s 2005 mark to make it the biggest and most dynamic show yet.


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