Canberra Wine Harvest Festival 2014

6 Apr

In previous years (see 2013 here and 2012 here), we’ve done a great job fitting in as many wineries in a short timeframe as possible. This year, our approach is a little more haphazard, spreading out our visits over the afternoons of the two festival days – but no less enjoyable.

My first introduction to this year’s festival is in the downstairs bar at A. Baker on a wet Thursday afternoon: there’s a ‘sneak peek’ with 10 of the region’s wineries showing off two wines each at 5.30pm, and a few of us are invited to a ‘sneaker version’ starting at 4.30 where we’ve got the winemakers to ourselves. Even before the arrival of a great many people at 5.30pm, the space is a little too tight and it’s difficult to move around.

'Sneak peek' of the 2014 Festival at A. Baker

‘Sneak peek’ of the 2014 Festival at A. Baker

The wine which get my attention are the latest from McKellar and Murrumbateman, and the Pankhurst sparkling.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, and it’s still raining, but we’re keen to get amongst it – even though we only leave the house at 2.30pm, and I send us scrambling back when I recall that we’ve got an unused 25% off voucher for Lerida Estate in the Entertainment Book.

Blergh weather

Blergh weather

We head down the highway where Lerida is a warm and inviting venue amongst the crazy weather.

Lerida Estate winery, near Lake George

Lerida Estate winery, near Lake George

Grapes at Lerida Estate

Grapes at Lerida Estate

2008 Brut Rose

2008 Brut Rose

We start with the Brut Rose, which is flowery but substantial. We both agree, though, that we’re big fans of the 2013 Georgianus – an unusual blend of eight different grape varieties. I can almost taste the steak and chorizo I could eat this wine with, and at $16.50, we buy a few bottles. The other standout for me at Lerida is the Zenzi Rosato Frizzante. It’s a light wine, incredibly easy to drink, and cheap! With six bottles under our belt, the deal for the weekend is that we get the seventh bottle (a Shiraz) free, and the discount still works. Bargain!

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I’m keen to head Murrumbateman way, but Boyfriend convinces me we should try some of the wineries down Bywong/Wamboin way, and Canberra region wines we haven’t tried before (there’s just a handful left…!). One vineyard from the region shut in the last few years, and the rumour is that another has recently shut as well (we haven’t checked ourselves), reminding us that these are real people and real lives behind these businesses.

The road to Affleck Vineyard, in Bywong

The road to Affleck Vineyard, in Bywong

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Affleck Vineyard was established in the mid-1970s – a similar time to when Helm Wines began – and has some of the more reasonably priced wines in the district.

Affleck Vineyard

Affleck Vineyard

The cellar door is small but even on a dark day plenty of light streams in.

Floor to ceiling windows keep Affleck Vineyards light and airy

Floor to ceiling windows keep Affleck Vineyards light and airy

I’m a big riesling fan but this isn’t my favourite – I much prefer their Semillon. But, as fortified wine fans, this is a real find in a region which concentrates more on botrytis.

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I was surprised with this but reckon it's a great deal!

I was surprised with this but reckon it’s a great deal!

Love this old piano - still with candlestick holders!

Love this old piano – still with candlestick holders!

The gardens at Affleck are some of the best I've seen

The gardens at Affleck are some of the best I’ve seen

By this time it’s 4.30pm, and the nearest winery to Affleck (Little Bridge) has already closed for the day, so retire for the day, knowing we’ve got all Sunday ahead of us.

We begin our Sunday late again, but there’s a little more planning behind it. We’re hungry, and head for the pies at Dionysus Winery, on Patemans Road just off Murrumbateman Road.

Outdoor setting

Outdoor setting

On a previous occasion I found the pie dry, but this time we all agree our pies are very, very good: flaky pastry, very hot, and great filling. At $15 with a glass of wine (our choice), it’s one of the more reasonable prices.

Excellent musician Chris Johnson is back

Excellent musician Chris Johnson is back

Chicken, leek and chardonnay pie with a glass of pinot noir

Chicken, leek and chardonnay pie with a glass of pinot noir

Flaky pastry and great filling

Flaky pastry and great filling

As we pulled into Dionysus, a sign caught my eye: Alpaca Open Day just up the road. Alpacas?! … maybe we could even pet them? Any interest I had in wines completely dissipates and I’m focused on seeing the alpacas; our group eventually obliges.

About a kilometre up the road is One Tree Hill alpaca farm. It’s just been raining (again!), so everyone’s in the shed when we arrive, but we soon get to wander down to the main attraction.

ALPACAS!

ALPACAS!

Squee!

Squee!

Alpacas and GORGEOUS view - one of the best in the Murrumbateman region, I reckon

Alpacas and GORGEOUS view – one of the best in the Murrumbateman region, I reckon. Also, BABY ALPACAS!

Our host, Matt, gives us a little history of alpaca breeding in Australia, and their farm’s concentration is on having a wide variety of alpaca colours – chocolate, fawn, even appaloosa. We learn that alpacas rarely spit, contrary to the rumour, and alpacas are generally pregnant for 11 months, but their babies are born VERY big. The brown one in the photo above is only a week old!

We get to pet baby Delilah

We get to pet baby Delilah

Then, it’s petting and feeding time! It’s hard to contain my excitement. I’ve no idea what I’m doing but try to keep my hand flat – there’s a lot of eating and snuffling.

alpaca2

I'm in love :)

I’m in love πŸ™‚

Hungry alpacas

Hungry alpacas

Nom nom

Nom nom

Baby Delilah's nose is missing some hair from her constant suckling of her mother

Baby Delilah’s nose is missing some hair from her constant suckling of her mother

Okay, that’s enough alpacas (I want one!).

Still on Patemans Lane is Four Winds Vineyard. The cellar door was properly opened last year, and I love the touches of barrel furniture, whether it’s the light shades or the tables and chairs. It’s very clever, and adds to the funky feel of the vineyard and wines.

View from Four Winds Vineyard

View from Four Winds Vineyard

Clever light fittings

Clever light fittings

Love these table settings

Love these table settings

While we enjoy the reds, the standout wine here is still the Riesling – vintage after vintage – and we leave with two bottles.

Reds at Four Winds Vineyard

Reds at Four Winds Vineyard

A little further down Murrumbateman Road is the turn off to Nanima Road, and our last two stops of the day. The first of these is Robyn Rowe Chocolates. I’ve waxed lyrical about these chocolates on many occasions, so won’t repeat myself here. But, I can report that she is still offering the gorgeous assiette (just with hot chocolate instead of sparkling shiraz) and the new coconut lime zing chocolates – while they might sound confusing – are simply brilliant. I thought I would hate them, but they are divine.

Turning into a beautiful day; this photo at Robyn Rowe chocolates

Turning into a beautiful day; this photo at Robyn Rowe chocolates

Finally, just down the road is Poachers Pantry. As if we haven’t already had enough to eat, we order the smokehouse charcuterie board ($33).

Poachers Pantry

Poachers Pantry

Pretty lavendar in the extensive Poachers Pantry gardens

Pretty lavendar in the extensive Poachers Pantry gardens

It’s okay. I’ve liked what I’ve eaten at Poachers Pantry before, but there’s only two smoked meats, one dip, a smattering of vegetables – it feels a little lacking for $33.

Smokehouse charcuterie board

Smokehouse charcuterie board ($33)

To wrap up a very full Canberra Wine Harvest Festival, we get a special gift:

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The festival is always a good day out, but some of the bigger names in the Canberra district didn’t participate this weekend – Lark Hill, for one, tells us they were busy harvesting (important!) – but other big names like Helm, Eden Road and Clonakilla are missing (Robyn Rowe and One Tree Hill weren’t official participants, either). Regardless, always worth the trip.

* Note: While I attended the ‘Sneakier version’ of the Sneak Peek for free, none of this post is sponsored.

Dates: Thursday, 3 April, Saturday and Sunday 5 & 6 April

Where: Lake George, Wamboin/Bywong, Murrumbateman

Cost: Various, depending on food eaten and wine bought; bottles of wine ranged from $16.50 to $35+

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? The next big wine festival for the region is the October Murrumbateman Moving Feast. For another insight into this year’s harvest festival (including different wineries), head to Le Bon Vivant’s great post. For my 2013 harvest festival review, try here, and the 2012 one is here.

 

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7 Responses to “Canberra Wine Harvest Festival 2014”

  1. Rachi April 7, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    OMG you got to feed baby alpacas! Jealous! We saw that sign too as we were heading to Dionysus but it was raining so hard and we had to give it a miss 😦 I’m definitely putting Four Winds on my list for next time. Thank you for the mention xx

  2. bgpublishers April 7, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    We liked Carols at the Barrels at Four Winds. Remember for next Christmas.

  3. Kel April 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Your enthusiasm never dwindles Tara. Thanks for your hot tips πŸ™‚
    Definitely have to visit that Alpaca farm ❀ them

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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