The Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival launches

Wine producers Glenda and Max Staniford (back) and Mark Foster and Ben Wallis. Picture: GREG ELLIS
Wine producers Glenda and Max Staniford (back) and Mark Foster and Ben Wallis. Picture: GREG ELLIS

The Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival was launched this week at the Mercure Resort Gerringong.

The annual festival has become so large it was the first time the launch was open to the public and it gave wine lovers a chance to meet the winemakers and sponsors.

The festival on the June 7-9 long weekend attracts thousands of visitors from Sydney and Canberra as well as many people from Illawarra’s five local government areas who have been discovering the wine produced locally is as good as anywhere in Australia.

In just over a week,  11 wineries in the region will throw their cellar doors open for three days of fine wine, food and entertainment.

The NSW government is a   sponsor of the festival,  allocating $10,000 through its Regional Flagship Events Program administered by Destination NSW.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Andrew Stoner said it was important to support such regional events which were important to help  the government achieve its goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure to the state by 2020.

‘‘I hope visitors take some time to explore everything else the region has to offer, from the spectacular beaches, bays and lakes, to the great cafes and restaurants by the water,” Mr Stoner said.

Shoalhaven Coast Wine Association deputy president Mark Foster encouraged everyone to  mark  at least one day of the  weekend on their calendars to not only sample locally produced wine but other products from the region such as Unicorn Cheese.

Mr Foster said  it was estimated that more than 7000 people attended last year’s wine festival  which made a significant contribution to the local economy.

This is one of the reasons why Integrity Real Estate, of Nowra, continued its involvement as a  sponsor.

Owner Peter Russell said he was impressed by the organisation of the festival by people such as Ian and Carole Johnston, of JAi Events, and members of the wine association.

Mr Russell said it was important to support a local industry event that had become a  drawcard for people outside the region.

It was also a way to encourage people to come to the Shoalhaven outside of the normal holiday seasons.

More  information about the wine festival,  being held from June 7 to 9, and transport options such as rail and bus links  can be found at www.shoalhavencoast or on the Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Facebook page.