New-look Gibbston festival

Gibbston Wine and Food Festival co-ordinator Julie Hughes (left) and Queenstown Resort College...
Gibbston Wine and Food Festival co-ordinator Julie Hughes (left) and Queenstown Resort College business development manager Clodagh Hall toast the new partnership between the rebranded festival and tertiary college. Photo by James Beech.
A dozen wineries will be featured in a rebranded and revitalised festival with the support of the Queenstown Resort College.

The Gibbston Wine and Food Festival is the new name for the annual Gibbston Harvest Festival. The event, which attracted 1300 people last year, will be jointly hosted by Brennan Wines and Mt Rosa, in Gibbston Back Rd, for the first time on March 16, from 11am to 5pm.

Festival co-ordinator Julie Hughes, of Arrowtown, said yesterday the rebranding idea was to ''focus attention on the wines of the region and the fact these wineries have achieved awards throughout the world''.

''We've called it the wine and food festival because it's instantly recognisable what it's about,'' Mrs Hughes said.

The Queenstown Resort College (QRC) has come on board as a partner for the first time. The recognised leader in its field was looking for an event to align itself with, she said.

''They will run the master classes, which are how wine and the food complement each other and how food can change the taste and texture of wine.

''We're also looking at education classes, by QRC, to get people back to basics and introduce people to different wines and try something new if they've always appreciated a certain variety.

''The classes will teach them what to look for in quality wines and appreciate the differences between them.''

Blending classes at Mr Rosa will enable patrons to experiment with blends and ask questions of professional winemakers.

''It's a fantastic opportunity for people to come in and talk with the winemakers themselves,'' Mrs Hughes said.

Traffic will be managed on the day and the festival will be signposted off the Gibbston Highway. Buses will run from Queenstown and Arrowtown to the festival and back. Food stalls will be open and heli-tours will offer fly-overs of the area at a special price. Entertainment for youngsters will be provided and musical entertainment will be supported by the Rockformation trust.

Traditional barrel racing will be the grand finale for the young and young at heart.

''The festival is not just for the wine buff; it's for people to come out and enjoy a relaxing day in a fantastic location,'' Mrs Hughes said.

Entry costs $15 and includes a glass and three ''taste tokens'' for the 12 wineries. Children aged 14 and under enter free. Cash and eftpos payments will be accepted on site. Online bookings will be available on the festival website within the next week.

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