WINE lovers defied the wintry conditions and turned out in large numbers at the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival on the weekend.
About 4000 people braved the rain to sample the region’s best wines at the annual wine tasting event.
The event offered more than 200 different wines from 47 wine producers, with a focus on the locally produced shiraz.
Heathcote Winegrowers Association executive officer Henry Screen said it was encouraging to see Heathcote shiraz’s profile growing.
“Heathcote has certainly got an international reputation for terrific shiraz. A lot of markets around Europe and the UK recognise it for top-quality shiraz.
“It’s very much about the boutique producers of Heathcote. A lot of them don’t have all that much exposure, but it doesn’t mean they’re not top-quality wines.”
Mr Screen said some of the smaller boutique wineries in the region were recognised for their shiraz, as well as their sangiovese, tempranillo, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon and merlot varieties.
Along with the wine tasting, about 30 food stalls showcased local produce including olives, cheese, walnuts, puddings, biscuits and spices. Crash courses in wine appreciation were given by wine educator Rob Hicks.
Musicians provided entertainment throughout the weekend, including Ultrafox Trio, Martin Pearson and The MP3, and Castlemaine band Crosswind.
Mr Screen said the event at the Heathcote Showgrounds was becoming more popular each year.
“It’s hard to say how much it’s growing in profile but the awareness of Heathcote wines is certainly increasing.
“With a really nice weather forecast, we could hopefully have an even bigger event next year.”