You won’t have to travel to the Hunter Valley to take a tour of our region’s best produce with this weekend’s Newcastle Wine and Food Festival in the city’s historic east end.
The event, which was formerly the Lambton Park Wine and Food Festival, will feature more than 35 exhibitors, offering food, market stalls and a selection of Hunter Valley wines sure to tempt every palate.
Event organiser Will Creedon, who wears many hats including co-owner of Rustica and Maitland’s recently opened Fox Bar, explained the reasons for the shift from Lambton to the CBD location.
“One of the reasons we’ve chosen Pacific Park is for the natural amphitheatre,” Creedon said. “People will be able to bring a picnic rug, sit in the sunshine listening to live music and sample some of the Hunter Valley’s finest produce.
“The park has such a lovely community feel about it. We can’t wait to see it buzzing with gourmet food producers, boutique wineries and superb local restaurants.”
There will be plenty on offer for foodies and wine lovers alike, with stalls offering everything from olive oil to cheese, wine, preserves and plenty more.
Muswellbrook’s Hunter Belle Cheese is just one of the stall holders talking part in the festival.
Hunter Belle Cheese’s Geoff Chesworth told GT the cheese maker’s full range of products would be on show at the festival for punters to try and buy. Cheese platters will also be on sale to tuck into with a glass of wine.
‘‘From soft cheeses right through to marinated fetas and hard cheeses, as well as our relatively new club cheddar range, which has some flavoured cheddars, will be on offer,’’ he said.
‘‘Our handmade gourmet cheese is very special and there is a certain amount of people interested in that.
‘‘But there’s another group of people interested in flavoured cheeses so we’ve developed two flavours: Italian herb and garlic cheddar, which is very popular, but the one that creates most interest is the beer cheese ... We’re also going to launch a new product at the festival, a smoked cheddar. It’s the first time we’ve tried anything like that.’’
There will also be cheese makers on hand at the Wine and Food Festival to talk all about the cheeses on offer.
‘‘It’s a great opportunity to talk to the people who do make it. We have various outlets around Newcastle, but it’s not very often you get the chance to talk to the cheese maker,’’ he said.
River Flats Estate, a producer of olives and oils from 3500 trees on a Broke property, will also have a range of products on offer at the Newcastle Wine and Food Festival.
‘‘We do four different oils, we do a large range of infused olives, gourmet chutneys and vinegars and mustards, everything,’’ proprietor Marian Waite told GT. ‘‘My daughter also makes soaps using our olive oil under the name Bare Nature Skin. We’ll have all of our olives, chutneys and oils available for tastings.’’
But the festival isn’t just about food and wine. It has two new partners to coincide with the shift to the CBD – Bikefest Newcastle and Hunter Animal Rescue. Hunter Animal Rescue will have foster dogs on show and there will be plenty of information on how to foster and adopt animals. Fittingly, the event is animal friendly.
Valet bike parking will be available over the entire weekend, meaning you can simply leave your bike at the gate and head inside. The team from Bikefest will also be on hand to provide maintenance tips and make repairs.
Newcastle Wine and Food Festival tickets are available at the gate or online at wineandfoodfestival.com.au. Adult entry is $15 and includes a souvenir wine glass, first wine taste, coffee experiences with Segafredo and live entertainment. Children aged 14 to 18 cost $5, and must be accompanied by an adult. Tokens to buy wine by the glass are $3, or $15 for a book of 5 tokens. Sample wine by the glass will be priced from one token. Entry is free for under 14s.
What’s your favourite Hunter flavour? Download the Herald’s new iPhone app, complete our My Hunter, My Taste assignment, and earn a shot at a night’s bed and breakfast for two at Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens.