A completely new concept for a wine festival…
On Sunday the 3rd of March I attended the first annual Valley and Vines (V&V) festival in the Swan Valley. It’s a completely new concept for a wine festival. You pre-decide which 3 venues you want to visit out of a choice of 6 and organise your own transport (I.e. elect a sober driver) or pay an extra $80 for a seat on one of the 3 organised buses with a pre-determined route.
The festival ticket by itself costs you $30 and this gets you a V&V lanyard, a V&V plastic Plumm wine glass and 120mls of wine at your first venue free. You spend 2 hours at each venue where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music. My V&V itinerary was; Ugly Duckling Wines, Chesters and then Duckstein Brewery up last.
To be honest I wasn’t too sure what to expect with this festival, but I was eager to get stuck in and see 3 new places in the Valley I had yet to visit. Our first stop, Ugly Duckling Wines, was a pretty casual affair. As we strolled over to the cellar door a V&V staff member came over to greet us with our V&V wine glass and token for our free drink. Very nice! So next up we hit the tasting counter where we were told about the 5 wines on offer and then asked which one we wanted. We were a bit taken back to be honest and randomly decided on one each, thinking that it was strange we weren’t offered a small taste of each to figured out our preference, like a normal cellar door.
My friend and I shrugged it off and went to find a seat. We are lucky we were there early as by 10:30am seats in the shade were hot property. When we asked about umbrellas we were told that since it was forecast to rain they didn’t think it would be so hot and sunny. Hmm.. I am pretty sure umbrellas are good for rain and shine! Lucky I took sunscreen with me!! The singing duo did a great job – definitely great entertainment!
Soon enough it was time to hit up the second venue. You are given 30 minutes to get to each venue, however the 3 I had chosen were literally 1km or less between each other.
By 12:30pm the sun was scorching and my very pale white skin was starting to turn very rosy indeed. As we arrived at Chesters I immediately noticed the lack of shade, so we thought we would hit up the restaurant for lunch. Upon entering the restaurant we were told we could not dine there because we were from the festival and that we would have to order and sit outside. I have to admit it wasn’t a good first impression and it did seem to get worse when we visited the cellar door. We asked the staff if we could try a few of their Heafod Glen wines before we bought a glass and we were sternly told ‘No’ and that we either had to pay $5 for 120mls or that’s it. So much for wanting to explore their range.
My friend was also given a very stern talking to about how one glass is over 1 standard drink and since she is driving she better be careful. It wasn’t a kind ‘take care how much you drink’ talking to either, it came across very rude and made us think that maybe we don’t want to drink there at all. I mean after all since we were driving we simply wanted to just ‘taste’ what the Valley has to offer, not get blind drunk. Sadly we didn’t have much luck at Chesters, their Verdelho is absolutely delicious and the live music again was fantastic. I just got the feeling that the staff were prepared for the worst, drunk rowdy people, when in fact this very type festival was marketed at and attracted those who just simply wanted to enjoy Perth’s Valley of Taste. The large gang looking guy with a mohawk, tattoos and security t-shirt on really did upset the atmosphere for me, I felt like I was at a university pub again in Auckland.
We were a little bit let down at this stage, but we trudged onto our third and final venue. Honestly we did save the best for last! Duckstein brewery was by far the best venue that were organised and equipped to cater for festivalgoers. There was plenty of shade under the marquee, the tables were nice and big so you could actually interact with others (which is a nice thing to do if you are attending in a small group) and you could purchase anything off the drinks or food menus. The highlight had to be the German hotdog with a large beer for $15. Absolute bargain and the pilsner is a winner! The live music didn’t let us down either, playing both old and new music the duo really had the crowd buzzing and singing along.
I like the idea of the festival but I do think a bit better organisation would go down a treat for next year. The V&V staff on the day were extremely good, giving out free bottles of water at all the venues, which I thought, was an extremely awesome idea. As I didn’t visit all the venues, nor was I on one of the buses my opinions above are simply on my experience going via my own transport. Sadly for $30 I feel I could of had a much better time organising my own day out therefore I feel this festival is definitely aimed at those keen to do a tour style day on one of the buses. The Valley has so much to offer and for me the ultimate festival would simply be getting all the wineries in one place to try their wonderful elixirs.