Major events at Australian wineries

Alecia Wood

Festivals Festivals

Experiences Experiences

Winemaker dinners, pop-up farmers markets, food festivals and guest chef appearances are just some of the major culinary events held at Australian wineries

Wyndham Estate Opera in the Vineyards, Hunter Valley, NSW

The range of winery events staged throughout Australia each and every year is a reflection of the laidback lifestyle we lead, where taking to the outdoors for a relaxing weekend of wine-tasting and picnicking is natural. “We have a wonderful quality in our wines and enjoy bringing people into that,” says Australian Master of Wine and wine journalist Rob Geddes, noting the breadth of major events held at wineries across the country with culinary, musical, artistic and theatrical themes. “Winery events are really important at a cultural level as they show that wine is not just alcohol – wine is part of culture. Wine is culture.”

January and June: MONA, Tasmania


“The Museum of Old and New Art is one of the most prophetic, forward-thinking and exciting ideas to ever emerge out of wine,” says Geddes of the celebrated museum at the same site as Moorilla Estate winery. For their winemaker Conor van der Reest, the combination of high-quality wines with art exhibitions and major events all at the same location provides a 360-degree sensory experience. “We hope they get people thinking and wondering about the world, which helps them to experience everything we offer from this fresh perspective. We mostly want them to have fun,” he says. Each June, MONA hosts a three-day winter feast dining event alongside art events for Dark Mofo, while in January MONA FOMA celebrates art, music and summer in Hobart.

February: Leeuwin Estate Concert Series, Western Australia

Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA

In Western Australia, the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series in Margaret River has staged an annual alfresco concert every year for over three decades. The line-up is always fantastic, with the likes of Australian singer-songwriter Pete Murray, the Perth Symphony Orchestra and Grammy-winning jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall gracing the stage in years gone past.

June: Bank SA Sea & Vines Festival, South Australia

Nearly 40,000 people flock to the wine coast of McLaren Vale every year during two days of the June long weekend, to meet and mingle with leading McLaren Vale winemakers and, more importantly, to enjoy their sensational wines! “Our tastings and tours are offered in a more intimate way through bespoke experiences, reflecting our winemaking philosophy, commitment to sustainability and the produce of the region,” says Brett Lanthios, general manager at Chapel Hill winery in McLaren Vale in South Australia.

July: Montalto, Victoria

In Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove hosts its own olive festival each July. “We harvest the olives from May to June, then press off the olive oil, bottle it and celebrate the new oil with guests,” says wine business manager Anthony Jones. Visitors can enjoy olive tapenade, marinated olives and basil-infused extra virgin olive oil alongside a mini farmer’s market, olive pip-spitting competitions and live cooking demonstrations in the pop-up ‘piazza’.

October: Opera in the Vineyards, New South Wales

The renowned Opera in the Vineyards is set to make a comeback in October 2015 at Wyndham Estate in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley. “The large domed stage sits dramatically at the centre of an expansive grass amphitheatre between the historic winery and the peaceful Hunter River,” says public relations and operations manager Stephen Guilbaud-Oulton of the inspirational setting. “The orchestra and the artists soar into their first few bars to the backdrop of a spectacular sunset over the vineyards. Some guests like to dress up, which adds a real sense of fun.”

November: Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Western Australia

Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Margaret River, WA

Gourmet Escape takes place each November in Western Australia’s Margaret River region, welcoming a bevvy of Australian and international chefs with hefty accolades to local wineries and restaurants. Past guests have included the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein and Alex Atala, plus Australia’s own Mark Best, Tetsuya Wakuda and Neil Perry. “We saw the potential right from the start to bringing this kind of talent to the region,” says Voyager Estate cellar door manager Janine Carter. “They create dishes using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients to showcase what our area has to offer, which is fantastic for our producers.”

December: Jacob’s Creek, South Australia

At Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, the winery hosts outdoor movie screenings throughout summer, where guests can settle in on lawns during the warmer months. “It’s the perfect combination – a summer evening with food and a glass of wine shared with friends while relaxing,” says Greg Stirling of Pernod Ricard Winemakers Australia.

Don’t miss out

- In regional NSW, the Orange Wine Week held in October plays host a series of events across the region.

Seppeltsfield Winery is the setting for Blues in the Barossa each November, where visitors can enjoy the music alongside the gourmet food and wine on offer.

- Also in November, Hunter Valley Uncorked is family-friendly event that showcases the best that the wine region has to offer, in a sunny Balmoral Bay setting.