BRING ON 2020 // Why We’re Excited About The Southern Highlands Food and Wine Industry
The Southern Highlands has long been a foodie fav and awesome region for producing amazing wines, produce, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, events, experiences and more.
And you know what? In the last few years we’ve noticed a huge upswing in quality (so many award winning producers here!) and talented growers, chefs and biz owners setting up in the Highlands and producing amazing products.
Think funky breweries, cutting edge wineries and distillers, hatted restaurants, super fab gourmet and destination experiences, events that are truly unique to our region…….we reckon it would be difficult to top what the producers of the Highlands offer up.
That’s why we’re pretty revved up about 2020. We caught up with Renee Wallace, President of the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association, had a peek at the event calendar for the year ahead and got super excited about all the amazing food and bevvie businesses and events happening across the Southern Highlands in 2020 – bookmark this one, peeps!
“There is a lot happening behind the scenes in the local food and wine industry at the moment,” says Renee.
“There's loads of opportunity in the pipeline which is going to be grabbed, shaken and stirred this year. It’s very exciting.”
Bring it on!
JANUARY // Celebrate in the sun
It’s hot, sunny and fabulous in the Highlands in January and locals go off on the long weekend! Joadja Estate’s Music in the Vines is always popular. The local pubs always have something fun on too. Bundy Hotel’s pool party is a cracker, get the competitive juices flowing with some keg throwing at Robbo, or join in with a game of garden cricket at Burrawang Village Hotel. And of course, the gorgeous and iconic town of Berrima throws a massive community party with market stalls, live entertainment and more. Pop into the Surveyor General Inn and have a peek at their recent refurb – snazzy! If you’ve got friends coming to visit and your house is chockas, click here for a list of accommodation to help them out.
Plenty of new foodie hangouts have popped up in the new year too. Check out Foodie’s Corner and Mint Lebanese in Mittagong, Will’s Kitchen in Bowral, Thai Som Boon in Mossy and Pecora Dairy’s new store in Robbo.
“The Highlands is such a great location for Australia Day. We’re encouraging everyone in the community to invite friends and family to experience the Highlands – long weekend style!” says Renee.
FEBRUARY // Ramp up the romance
It’s the month of love and us Highlanders know how to get our mush on! How about a romantic picnic? Order a gorgeous hamper (with bubbles!) from Peppers Manor House, find a spot in the gardens to throw a blanket down and enjoy! Or ask the Posh Picnic Co to create the whole set up for you – in your own backyard or wherever!
Or how about a romantic dinner under the stars on the Cedar Lawn at Milton Park? Or a fine wine and gourmet deliciousness at PepperGreen Estate’s Tasting Room in Berrima. So many opportunities to get starry-eyed – check out our list of Valentine’s Day events here.
MARCH // Quintessential country
Oh we love March! The weather cools, the leaves turn to gold and we head to quintessential Highlands events like the Robertson Country Show (we love the potato races and Spud Olympics!). Why don’t you enter something in the show? Whip up a sponge, make some jam, the kids can enter their very own craft project, harvest and enter something from your veggie garden – so many opportunities to get involved.
March is also busy for conferences and the Highlands is quite the boutique conference destination thanks to some fab offsite experiences unique to our area offered up by local destination experts – think fly fishing with Aussie Flyfishing, stone-walling workshops at Ashton Park, a Maugers Paddock to Plate farm tour, the amazing exotic mushroom tunnel tour (yep! It’s a thing!) or a truly bespoke Southern Highlands experience created by Experience Nature Group. Add in a huge range of meetings and event venue options from five star to glamping – here’s a list! – and you’ve got yourself an awesome location for your next work conference, training session or networking catch-up.
APRIL // Time to get harvesting
Time to get our harvest on! This is when all our local vineyards get busy and get harvesting. It’s an awesome time to visit the cellar doors and get the lowdown on how these guys make their delicious cool climate wines. and you can get hands-on / feet-on at Tractorless Vineyard and get involved in the crushing of the grapes yourself!
“The wineries and cellar doors are very vibey at this time of year. People here are so passionate about they do and all they want to do is share it and talk about it,” says Renee.
“Being able to visit a producer and hear, see, watch and learn from the business owner or grower themselves is a unique aspect of what we do here in the Highlands.”
And of course in April, Bundanoon becomes Brigadoon! One of the biggest annual events in the Highlands (this event triples the population of Bundy!), this is a great family day out!
ANZAC Day in the Highlands is also super special. Most towns and villages host a Dawn Service (always so emotional and beautiful).
MAY // Dramatic landscapes and events
The Loch is a stunning and unique venue in Berrima and in May they are hosting another unique event. Dine with Australia’s greatest thespian, John Bell at an intimate performance of ‘A Few Of My Favourite Things’ in the beautiful garden marquee. Dine on an amazing Elizabethan feast served with craft ales and local wines. Can you imagine how delicious this will be?
And of course we celebrate our gorgeous mothers in May. If she likes her bubbles, take her along to a private sparkling tour and tasting at Cuttaway Hill Wines. Or treat her to lunch at one of our fab restaurants, pubs or bars – here’s a list here!
JUNE // Forest feasts and celebrating all things pie
We celebrate all things pie in June. So many local cafes, pubs, restaurants, bakeries, wineries and more get involved. There’s a pie trail, special pie creations, a competition, events, experiences and specials that will get your tastebuds singing and your tummies full!
Feast of the Beast is another popular and unique event in the Highlands that locals have totally embraced. This magical feast in the forest celebrates winter solstice with an experience like no other. And you get to dress up!
JULY // Rugging up for Winterfest
If hibernating inside next to a cosy fireplace with a drink in hand is your idea of wintery Highlands heaven, here’s some of our fav fireplaces to hang at - Bertha’s Meats, Hickory’s at Peppers Craigieburn and The Gin Trading Co bar at Bistro Sociale).
We also love rugging up and hitting Winterfest, Bundanoon’s awesome street party with so many local producers and restaurants setting up in stalls on the main road (it’s okay, they shut the street down!). Add some live music to the mix and its party central!
AUGUST // Celebrating (and tasting!) cold climate wines
The Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association also host the highly acclaimed Australian Highlands Wine Show. Winemakers from all the major high altitude cool climate regions – Orange, Mudgee, New England, Canberra and more – converge on the Southern Highlands to take part in this popular competition. Locals can get involved with tastings during the judging and come along to the awards night and celebrate wines with altitude!
Winter is the perfect time to snuggle under a blankie on the couch with a good book. To keep across the latest in the literary world, keep an eye on Bowral Bookshop’s Literary events, held regularly at Centennial Vineyards Restaurant.
SEPTEMBER // Spring into action
Spring is stunning here and we bloomin’ love Tulip Time. Bowral and the Highlands is pumping and there are so many fun and fabulous events on to celebrate all things spring and tulip-y. Open gardens, posy workshops, community parade, outdoor cinema and lots more.
Bendooley Estate’s The Stables is one of the newest additions to the local event scene. Since they opened last year, there have been some pretty spesh events held there – think intimate musical performances with delish food and fab wine – keep updated with what they’ve got going on here.
OCTOBER // Festivals and live music fun
You know what we likey? All our fabulous producers in one place! That’s what the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival does – showcasing the creative food producers, innovative wine makers, craft brewers, distillers, chefs and venues with two days of deliciousness at Bradman Oval. A fav on the local event calendar.
“We have a lot of characters in the Highlands and a lot of those characters are the owners, the makers, the growers and the producers,” says Renee.
“When people have firsthand access to these guys it heightens the whole experience for them that little bit more. And the good thing is, you don’t just get that firsthand access at a festival. You’ll most likely meet the owner the next time you visit their venue, store, vineyard, brewery or whatever it might be.”
And this October we’ve also got Sir Rod Stewart performing at Centennial Vineyards for one night only. We’re so excited that these large scale music events are back at Centennial! Lock up your mums, people!
NOVEMBER // First past the post
We get our Bong Bong on in November. The Bong Bong Picnic Races is such a fun day out. You can VIP it up and get your hands on a marquee pass – we loved The Taphouse’s marquee last year. So much yumminess and bevvie-ness! Fashions on the Field is always fun and well, everyone has so much fun catching up and people-watching, sometimes we forget that there is actually a horse race or six happening!
November is Christmas party season too. If you’ve been tasked with the job of sorting the work Christmas party out, here’s an article of ideas we put together. Lots of venues doing cool and interesting things!
DECEMBER // Cheers to Christmas
Christmas in the Southern Highlands is pretty spesh. So many special menus, culinary Chrissy delights, special brews and New Year’s Eve shindigs to choose from. Lots of local cellar doors, breweries and distilleries have awesome gift ideas too – we’re talking crisp gins from Artemis, bottles of bubbles from Cherry Tree Hill, growlers of craft beer from Eden Brewery and smooth whiskeys from Joadja Distillery. Merry Christmas indeed!
For local foodie and wine businesses...
If you want to become a member of the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association, click here or if you would like to be kept up to date with what the association and all their members are up to, be sure to check back in here at The Fold - we’ll be updating this awesome page monthly. You can sign up for the Association’s newsletter here or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.