A favourite community event in my calendar is the Mudgee Wine and Food Fair. Mudgee is one of the top wine producing regions in New South Wales and about a three and a half hour drive north west of Sydney. The month-long festival has been running since the 1970′s and this year it opens on September 12. Ahead of its opening, for one day only, it comes to Balmoral.
The Mudgee wine industry is dominated by small, independent and family-run wineries selling a quality boutique product. Over 35 cellar doors exist in a small pocket of gorgeous countryside and a lot of those wineries set up stalls around the Balmoral Rotunda and allow the city dwellers to sample their produce. It’s a great way for those in the city to be exposed to the country producers.
The Mudgee Wine and Food Fair is a fantastic community event where it seems everyone heads down to the beach to be a part of the festivities. Many come well-prepared with picnic rugs and enviable picnic hampers and sit in large groups with their entire social circle and enjoy the wines and the country-fresh produce.
This year the festival was in luck as for a winter’s day, the weather couldn’t have been better. Clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine and an unseasonably warm day with temps in the low 20′s (73F) – perfect. Good weather always brings the crowds and this was the busiest I have ever seen the event which is good news for the stallholders.
Two years ago we attended this event and the conditions were dire. It was one of the coldest days on record and despite wearing about a hundred layers I was chilled to the bone. The turnout was equally as dire and one of the stallholders told me at the end of the day that they had only sold a third of what they would normally sell in good conditions.
The Fair begins at 11am with last tastings served just before 5pm. After arriving, the first priority is to buy the tickets that allow you to taste the wines. We bought five tickets each for $20.00 but if you paid an extra $5.00 you were given a Riedel wine glass to keep. Excellent! We have a few of these at home that we haven’t smashed and so we now have an additional two in our collection.
A ‘taste’ of wine is not a full glass but rather just 60mls. Enough to let you decide if you would like to place an order.
Many people took advantage of the Riedel offer and so a lot of wine tickets were sold. Adding to the atmosphere was singer/songwriter, Matt Boylan-Smith who calls himself ‘The Travelling Troubadour’, who played live music at the Rotunda for about five hours.
The first wine we tried was Short Sheep because I liked the name. The name comes from the rare breed of miniature Babydoll Southdown sheep that graze amongst the vines throughout the year. I also liked their ‘social responsibility’ program where 10% of Turning Wine into Water goes to clean water projects and 10% of Graffiti Shiraz is donated to disadvantaged youth programs. I tried a couple of their wines and my favourite was the Sparkling Shiraz Rose; a great summer wine.
It’s a festival that’s predominantly about wine but not only about wine. I sampled cheeses from the High Valley Wine and Cheese Company and ended up buying two jars from their marinated feta range. I’ve used the pesto feta in a tomato salad and I also bought the chilli feta that I think would be wonderful spread on a crusty baguette.
I loved the horse sculpture however, because of the dreadful photo, the beauty of it is diminished. This horse is part of an exhibition called Sculptures in the Garden which is on for one weekend only in Mudgee. On display are sculptures, garden design and local produce in a beautiful rural setting within a private garden and vineyard. Entry is just $5.00 and free for children.
It’s not just a fair for the adults; there’s plenty for the children as well. There’s a petting zoo that was overrun with determined and over-excited children and I did feel sorry for some of the animals that the children mistook for ride-on toys.
Alfie and his friend enjoyed an ice cream and then went climbing trees. Carl and I then enjoyed the wine tastings peacefully and on our own.
No child will ever go hungry because after the ice cream there’s the nuts…
To be followed by the irresistible chocolate covered strawberries…
And before you leave you can burn off all the calories with a walk along the beach…
The Mudgee Wine & Food Fair is an important community event as it helps people living in Sydney understand the lifestyles and hard work of the people in the country who provide us with so many of the good things in life – wine and cheese! I’m so glad that this year’s event was very well attended and that those behind the stalls spent the day being run off their feet – they couldn’t ask for more than that.
The Balmoral Mudgee Wine & Food Fair was on Sunday, August 10 from 11am – 5pm. To find out details of next year’s event you can follow Mudgee Wine on facebook.