Murrumbateman Moving Feast

6 Oct

I’m a big fan of Canberra’s wineries, and Boyfriend and I have somewhat systematically been working our way through visiting every single one. The Canberra Region Wine Harvest Festival is permanently marked into our calendars (with visits in 2012 and 2013), and we’ve wined and dined our way through Lerida Estate, Lark Hill, Surveyor’s Hill, Capital Wines, Poacher’s Pantry and Mt Majura. Phew! You’d think we’d know what to expect, but the Murrumbateman Moving Feast still threw up some surprises. So, herewith are some lessons learned:

The objective: Murrumbateman Moving Feast is where the Canberra Murrumbateman region wineries serve either a ‘main’ course or a dessert (or both) with a glass of wine. All the main courses with a glass of wine are $20, and all the desserts with a glass of wine are $15. We plan to head to one winery for a main course, and another for dessert.

The outcome: We eat and drink at McKellar Ridge, Long Rail Gully and Helm Wines.

Lesson 1: Plan your trip. The Murrumbateman Moving Feast publishes the brochure with the locations of the wineries, as well as the menu well in advance. It’s a smart idea to download or print them both in case you want to visit more than you plan for, or the winery you plan for runs out (you can see where this is heading, right?).

Lesson 2a: Don’t sleep in. Daylight savings doesn’t catch us by surprise, but nevertheless we aren’t on our way until well after midday, limiting our time available to visit the wineries.

Lesson 2b: Arrive before midday. And probably not on a Sunday. Despite our strict attention to Lesson 1, we’re latecomers to Lessons 2a and 2b. We arrive at Gallagher’s Winery just after 1pm, keen for the black truffle labneh and chicken and leek filo. It’s not to be – they’re all sold out. Mr Gallagher directs other guests in the same position to Granitevale Estate just down the road. But, thanks to Lesson 1, we’ve got the menu downloaded and we quickly determine our own back up plan: McKellar Ridge. Later, we still have our eye on a second dessert from Helm Wines – the pear and blue cheese tart with walnuts – but they’re sold out, too. In short: even if you plan well, if you’re not there early on a Saturday, you risk being disappointed.

McKellar Ridge Beef Bourguignon pies with the 'trio' wine

McKellar Ridge Beef Bourguignon pies with the ‘trio’ wine

Lesson 3: Every winery approaches the service thing differently. McKellar Ridge is table service; there’s a specified wine that comes with either the main course or dessert ordered (additional wines are $5 a glass). Long Rail Gully has a small table at which we order and pay, and we find our own table to sit at; we’re given a small ticket to take to the wine tasting area where we can choose any of the (many) wines available (again, additional wines are $5 a glass). Helm Wines is one where we order at a bar behind the old school where the tastings are held, and we’re given our food at the bar. We find our table from there.

Long Rail Gully

Long Rail Gully

Lesson 4: Expect different waiting times. We wait a looong time for our pies at McKellar Ridge (they can’t cook them as fast as the demand – but they’re delicious, and worth the wait; we clean our plates). Our sticky date pudding at Long Rail Gully comes out almost instantly (also yum), and Helm Wines serves us instantly at the bar.

Waiting at Long Rail Gully

Waiting at Long Rail Gully

Lesson 5: Don’t underestimate the time it takes to drive between wineries (or how time slips away in good company). I figure we’ll be done in two hours, but our trip out takes us 3.5.

Sticky date pudding with cream and ice cream at Long Rail Gully

Sticky date pudding with cream and ice cream at Long Rail Gully with a (very full) glass of 2011 Pinot Noir

Lesson 6: Keep in touch with your Twitter friends who are also at the Murrumbateman Moving Feast but at other wineries. We plan to go to some other wineries, but thanks to up-to-the-minute knowledge Le Bon Vivant’s experiences, decide to steer clear.

Lesson 7: Expect different quality experiences at each wine. A lot of these wineries aren’t set up to sell food (surprise, surprise!). Some have dedicated outdoor seating, and others have clearly pulled it together for this event. Some have proper cutlery and crockery and others have… plastic. That said, none of this really detracts from the experience for us.

Apple Struesel with Half-Dry Riesling at Helm

Apple Struesel with Half-Dry Riesling at Helm (from an offering of three wine choices). Also delicious, although the plastic spoon does not really help with the cutting of a struesel!

Lesson 8: Have a designated driver. We are lucky enough to enjoy the company of our friend B, who also offers to be the designated driver. It’s just as well – we’re served very full wine glasses!

Lesson 9: Don’t have plans for once you get home. All you feel like doing is napping.

Date: Sunday, 6 October 2013

Cost: $20 per main with a glass of wine, $15 per dessert with a glass of wine

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile. As well as offering food and drink, free wine tastings were held throughout the day.

Want more? While we had an overall good experience, Rachi at Le Bon Vivant had a very different one… check it out here. Keep up with the Murrumbateman Moving Feast and other events with the Makers of Murrumbateman website and Facebook page. Aaand, the Wine, Roses and All That Jazz Festival is just one month away!


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