THE Grampians Grape Escape has been voted among the top food and wine festivals in the world.
The Amex acknowledgement includes wine festivals in Spain and Italy. The Halls Gap-based festival ranked at number 14.
Grampians Grape Escape co-director Kate Kirkpatrick said she was speechless at the news.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, how did they hear about Grampians Grape Escape in our tiny little town of Halls Gap?’,” she said.
The annual festival showcases regional wine, food and music in Halls Gap and the wider region.
Ms Kirkpatrick said festival-arranged surveys had shown 85 per cent of festival patrons would return to the region within 12 months.
“This is a fantastic outcome for the Grampians and the wider region,” she said.
“It shows that the festival is a great promotion for the area and once people come, they like what is on offer – not only at Grampians Grape Escape but all year around. That shows from the number of return visits.”
The festival will celebrate 28 years in 2019 and has announced Colin Fassnidge and Sarah Glover as the special guest celebrity chefs.
Ms Kirkpatrick said the process of selecting the chefs included brainstorming with the board.
“We look at who has been here in the past. We also brainstorm for guest chefs who will have a good fit with the festival. We like to celebrate local produce, reducing food miles sustainability and also back-to-basic cooking,” she said.
Ms Kirkpatrick said Fassnidge had a strong following and was a good fit due to his knowledge of nose-to-tail cooking.
“Everyone knows who he is. Since announcing he will be coming along, we have had a great response,” she said.
Ms Kirkpatrick said Glover was selected because she related well to the visitors the festival attracted.
“A lot of our visitors are caravaners, campers and people who love road trips to the Grampians. We have plans for Sarah to do demonstrations on campfire cooking, which will really appeal,” she said.
The 2019 festival is Ms Kirkpatrick’s third as co-director and she said the announcement of the Amex list was reward for the hard work behind the scenes.
“Grampians Grape Escape has been going for a very long time and has a great reputation. In the past year we have looked at ways we can develop. It really is a big team event,” she said.
Ms Kirkpatrick said the 2019 festival was scheduled for May 4 and 5 and tickets were now on sale.
She said people wanting more information could go to www.grampiansgrapeescape.com.au
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