It’s been a long time between drinks for the Hunter Valley Wine Festival, but hotel owner and entrepreneur, Dr Jerry Schwartz, will celebrate the purchase of his first vineyard – the former McWilliams Middle Creek vineyard – by reviving the Hunter Valley Wine Festival on 12 October.
The last Festival was apparently held (well, they say, if you can remember it, you weren't there...) in 1983, at the Cessnock Showgrounds, but it ended up a rather traumatic event for organiser John Fordham, the usually indefatigable wine promoter. As he recalls: "There was an ugly drama late in the afternoon when a team of bikies descended on the venue. Brian McGuigan, for one, was the subject of threats and some pushing when he refused them service." Clearly they weren't chardonnay bikies!
That festival was largely organised by Tyrrell's, who are once again involved with the new Hunter Valley Wine Festival, along with 30 other large and boutique wineries, such as Gartelmann Wines (whose Cabernet was recently highly rated by Huon Hooke) and Macquariedale Organic Wines. Local boutique ciders and beers will also be on offer, all complemented by gourmet fresh produce and entertainment from the region.
Attendees will have the opportunity to blend their own Hunter Classic, and there will be key note speakers to add a touch of education to the day.
The difference between 1983 and 2013, is that the Festival will be held in the picturesque grounds of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, and will be a very family-friendly event (executives riding their weekend Harleys will be allowed entry as long as they are accompanied by a family following in a Volvo).
The Festival comes as a result of Dr Jerry Schwartz’s passion for the Hunter Valley (he owns three hotels there) and the region’s wines.
He has just completed the purchase of the Middle Creek vineyard, which covers 71 acres, and has 55 acres of semillon and chardonnay vines dating back to 1974, that have been used in the production of McWilliams’ famous Mt Pleasant wines. Dr. Schwartz is planning to establish his own winery and processing facility, but until that was completed the premium grapes would be harvested and processed by Hope Estate under the new name Jade Estate Winery.
“These vintage vines have produced outstanding wines in the past and we look forward to creating a new premium wine range that shows off the best of Hunter Valley produce,” said Dr Schwartz.
“I am passionate about wine and the Hunter Valley, and we will celebrate that by holding the first Hunter Valley Wine Festival in 30 years in the grounds of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley wine community has come out in force and it will be a great celebration of the region’s wine and food culture.”
The festival, which will be held on the hotel’s sprawling grassy lawns and in the stately new marquee, will also be alive with entertainment throughout the day, including guest speakers, live music and a program of family-friendly activities.
Unlike other Hunter wine events that require transport from vineyard to vineyard, the Hunter Valley Wine Festival will be held in the one place, allowing festival-goers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the day at their own pace, between 11:00am-5:00pm. For the ultimate wine festival experience, stay on-site in a deluxe room or self-contained two- or three-bedroom villa at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
Hotel guests can break from the festival any time to enjoy the range of facilities around the grounds, including an 18-hole golf course, day spa, outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, oversized chess set, two restaurants and two bars -including Vista Lounge, renowned for having one of Australia’s largest whisky collections.
Wine lovers who don’t want to share the day with the ‘whine’ of young children can stay at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and take advantage of resort’s Water Dragons Kids Club, the only complimentary fully supervised hotel kids’ club in the region.
Tickets to the festival are $30 pre-sale and $40 on the day (if available) and include 10 tastings. Children under 18 years receive free entry.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is offering a special Hunter Valley Wine Festival package, including two-night stay, breakfast for two and festival tickets for two, starting from $450 per night for a deluxe room*. For more information or to make a booking, visit www.huntervalleywinefestival.com or call the hotel on (02) 4991 0970. *Minimum 2 nights stay. Terms and conditions apply and are subject to availability.
For more information, or to book tickets, visit www.huntervalleywinefestival.com