Guest Post: Valley & Vines Festival 2014

By Katrina Kelly

When the lovely Travelling Corkscrew mentioned she would be away during the 2014 Valley & Vines Festival (V&V), she absolutely had to twist my arm to attend…not! I agreed straight up – what better way to spend a Saturday than in the beautiful Swan Valley at three different venues soaking up wine, beer, cider, food and live music!!

We arrived at the first venue, Jarrah Ridge Winery a little early as we had to pick up our festival lanyards and wine glasses. The V&V staff were friendly and well organised, directing us to the cellar door for our included free drink.

The Jarrah Ridge staff were nice, but seemed unprepared for guests (even though we were now right on time). They asked us what we would like to drink, which was difficult to choose when we weren’t allowed to taste the wines before making a decision. They filled our wine glasses right up though – score!

We also bought some cheese and nibbles from the venue’s selection, but when we asked about plates or cutlery the staff had to actually go searching. Not ideal when hosting an event at which you’re encouraging people to buy food and drinks at your venue.

Blake Skinner played a lovely acoustic set, a mix of old and new hits which suited everyone in the audience.

The weather turned out to be a lot warmer than the email prediction that V&V had sent earlier in the week and there was not enough seating or shade available for all guests. The tables that were available had to be moved by guests into more shady areas.

There was a nice, relaxed vibe, perfect for sharing a lazy bottle of wine with friends. But the lack of seating and shade meant a lot of guests left the first session early.

We attended Carilley Estate for the second session. V&V staff were front and centre at the venue, directing guests to the designated area overlooking the vineyard. What a truly gorgeous spot it was! There was plenty of seating at Carilley, both undercover and outside with air conditioning and fans.

Some wines were available to taste, which made choosing a glass or bottle much easier! Lunch menus for food were readily available on each table with lots of delicious options. We tried a couple of the pies from the menu (the seafood medley and the beef and red wine) – delicious! Definitely in our top 5 pies in the Swan Valley. We also had the salt and pepper squid. The lunch menu prices were really reasonable and given the number of people in attendance, the food arrived quickly.

Disappointingly, the Carilley Estate staff looking after V&V guests appeared like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were, and one even mentioned they were hungover from the night before. Bad customer service seems all-too-common in Perth, which is such a shame.

Earl Cole played a fun, relaxed jazz-style set – a total crooner. Swoon!  I could have easily spent the afternoon with a bottle of wine overlooking the vines, listening to him sing. But alas, we still had one more venue to visit.

Lastly, we visited Duckstein Brewery – it was here we found the party! The venue had a roped off section for V&V guests, as well as a separate bar. Their full menu was available for guests to order from and they also had a BBQ set up with various German delights!

The atmosphere and vibe at Duckstein was definitely the stand out of the three venues we visited. The staff were so upbeat and fun and by the end of the day, having followed each other around the Swan Valley all day, guests on our itinerary started to mingle.

It really was a mixed crowd – young, old, singles, couples and larger groups but that didn’t matter. The band (who I unfortunately didn’t even get a name for) started up, playing a mix of 70s and 80s hits and the dance floor was a hit! No one wanted to leave at the end of the session.

All in all, we enjoyed the day. However, I think ticket prices might be a sticking point for this event. Other than a designated area at 2 of the venues and 1 free drink at the first, there wasn’t anything on offer that couldn’t be done by simply visiting the venues on your own for free. Some would argue that those things are enough to justify the $30 per person ticket price, but I think reviewing the fees could potentially attract more guests.

I definitely feel there’s a great opportunity for the Valley & Vines Festival to learn and grow into the future.

Thanks to Travelling Corkscrew for the opportunity to attend and blog on your behalf.

Disclaimer: I received 2 tickets to the Valley & Vines Festival in exchange for this review. My opinions remain my own.

Katrina Kelly is a Digital Marketing Guru who is currently building a house in the Swan Valley and simply can’t get enough of her soon to be new backyard.

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...

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