Balmoral Mudgee Wine and Food Fair, 2014

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 Rotunda is the focal point for the event

The Rotunda is the focal point for the event

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.

A huge turnout

A huge turnout

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.

Live music at the Rotunda

A very relaxing way to spend a Sunday

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.

Afternoon sunshine

Afternoon sunshine

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.

Lots of picnickers making a day of it

Lots of picnickers making a day of it

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.

First job is to buy your tickets

First job is to buy your tickets

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.

Souvenir Riedle wine glasses

My new wine glasses

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.

A beautiful winter's day

A beautiful winter’s day

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.

The bridge to the island

The bridge to the island

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.

Wine and cheese stand

High Valley Wine & Cheese Co.

Marinated feta

Marinated feta

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.

Not a good photo but this is a horse sculpture made from sticks

This sculpture needs a plain background

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.

A little boy being too enthusiastic in the petting zoo

A little boy being too enthusiastic in the petting zoo

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.

It's essential to buy an ice cream

It’s essential to buy an ice cream

No child will ever go hungry because after the ice cream there’s the nuts…

You can buy some nuts to have with your wine

Nuts to have with your wine

To be followed by the irresistible chocolate covered strawberries…

Chocolate strawberries

Chocolate strawberries

And before you leave you can burn off all the calories with a walk along the beach…

A beautiful winter's day

The long shadows of winter

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.

It was an unseasonably warm day

A perfect winter’s day

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.

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  1. I have missed this now for a couple of years 🙁 so glad it was a wonderful day! Liz x

  2. So glad the weather was lovely this year – and while I am not a big wine drinker – I sure do love wine glasses! My daughter seems to have inherited my love for wine glasses as I find her drinking even milk in a wine glass from time to time! We have the Botanical Garden here in Atlanta that does a “sculptures in the Garden” exhibit too – but their sculptures are with flowering plants – though that horse looks phenomenal! I am with Alfie – I would have been noshing on (lactose free) ice cream or fro yo too and those strawberries – ooh!

  3. I had no idea that it had been going on for so many decades. Wow that is quite an achievement! I still haven’t been, even when I lived closeby. Must rectify that one year 🙂

  4. Wine, sun and fun. I like the horse sculpture though you have to see it at the right angle, I think.

  5. I love food events like this and I’m glad you had a chance to enjoy the wine tasting and all the fun.

  6. Sounds fabulous, Charlie… we must get there some time… this year it clashes with a few other events!

  7. What a great tasty festival! It all looks very cosy & splendid!

  8. Most of the wine festivals here in my town seem to have inadequate space to make it fun to enjoy the day while sipping the wine. This looks like a fantastic event and venue. Glad the weather cooperated, too!

  9. Looks like a fun fair and fabulous weather! You always go to such great events, Charlie!

  10. What a gorgeous place Charlie, looks like the perfect place for a wine show.

  11. those strawbs look so good. what a lot of fun you all had. and those wine glasses look great.

  12. As gorgeous as all the wines are, I would have gone over just for those delicious looking strawberries 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  13. Must take a drive through country NSW. It looks lovely in winter.

    • Oh…this isn’t country NSW, Francesca, this is Balmoral Beach in Sydney. This is ‘the country comes to the city’ for just a day then the festival is on in the country for a month.

  14. What a beautiful day and wonderful setting for such a lovely food fair. Looks like Alfie thoroughly enjoyed it!

  15. So happy for the vendors that the weather was perfect and the turnout was good. Sounds like you had a most wonderful time at the festival.

  16. I love events like this too – although it’s never fun being the designated driver. Looks like a perfect day out.

  17. What a beautiful setting for it! I love that it’s held outdoors not in some stuffy convention room. How perfect to finish off with a chocolate covered strawberry and those glasses are much nicer than the thick cheap ones you get at the Food and Wine Show.

  18. G’day! Looks to be exactly my kind of event Charlie and wish I lived closer …one day am sure we will meet somewhere in Oz too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  19. What a nice day out – haven’t been to a food and wine festival for a couple of years now – what a great location too.

  20. I’m glad it was a nice day for all involved Charlie, it is a tricky time of year to hold an outdoor event isn’t it! Looks like lots of fun 🙂

  21. Wow…$3.50 each for chocolate covered strawberries?!?! That’s outrageous! They were pretty big, though! Sounds like a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Those marinated feta cheeses sound fabulous. And I’d Love to get my hands on some of the wine you tried! Yummy! xo

  22. I enjoy this kind of event and I would have equally enjoyed such a beautiful day. The wines may be the focal point, but I like the supporting vendors! The flavored feta looked intriguing to me. It looks like you had a very nice family day and thankfully the weather was cooperative, too. 🙂

  23. I haven’t been to that festival for years.I bet the parking is horrendous. Lucky you can walk.

    I love the horse sculpture. The whole exhibition in Mudgee would be amazing. Its so important to support producers and some of them really are doing fabulous things.

  24. The food looks fabulous! And absolutely necessary to get ice cream and a chocolate covered strawberry.

  25. Sounds like a terrific event! And you couldn’t have had better weather! I would have sprung for the wine glasses, too…what a deal!

  26. I adore Mudgee but I don’t believe I’ve ever been to Balmoral [despite being Sydney born & bed]. Must rectify this…

  27. They picked the best dfay didnt they. Looks like you had a ball Charlie.

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