The Australian wine industry has had its ups and downs over the past 20 years.
It began with a big “up,” as American consumers discovered that Down Under vintners were making wines packed with personality, and selling them at bargain basement prices.
That success prompted the planting of additional vineyards, but some now say there was too much planting—creating a wine glut a few years later when all of those new vines came into production.
Then came the global economic crisis, which was part blessing and part curse for the Aussies. It was a curse because people bought less wine, but a blessing because many turned to Aussie wines because of their generally lower prices.
Some wineries did not survive the economic turmoil, but those that did continue to make expressive and impressive wines. And those wines are being showcased over a 20-day period in the 20th annual Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, which began over the weekend and continues through March 21.
We’ve perused the festival’s schedule and press releases, and offer a few highlights…
- Superstar restaurateur René Redzepi of noma in Copenhagen will be among the presenters at the Langhorn Melbourne MasterClass, set for March 10-11. He’ll be joined by Massimo Bottura of Italy’s Osteria Francescana and others as they share their thoughts on global gastronomic trends. (Yes, the MasterClass will include plenty of food and wine.)
- Also this coming weekend, as well as March 17-18, “Tastes of Rutherglen” will feature open houses and special events at that region’s many wineries. It’s a great way to combine wine tasting with sightseeing, as the Rutherglen area is drop-dead gorgeous.
- On the festival’s final day, visitors can enjoy a fabulous “dessert” by attending “Sweets” at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum. It’s an opportunity to learn how different cultures use sweet foods in important rituals, celebrations and life events.
There are literally hundreds of events scheduled from Melbourne to Mornington, and from South Yarra to Swan Hill—including 80 that are priced at under $50.
The festival’s website includes full information and an impressive calendar—simply click on a date, and get a detailed listing of all events scheduled that day.
It may be a little too late to plan a trip to Melbourne for this year’s festival. But once you peruse the schedule, I bet you’ll be motivated to begin making plans for the 2013 edition.