Tourism Australia is currently traveling North America with 11 winemakers from the oldest family-run wineries on the continent to promote Australia’s growing food and wine scene to groups.
“Food and wine is a key driver of destination choice for people whether they’re looking for a vacation destination or for a destination for a conference, corporate meeting or incentive program,” says Jane Whitehead, vice president, The Americas, for Tourism Australia. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve been putting a lot more emphasis on highlighting Australia’s food and wine offerings. For us, Australia’s food and wine offerings are about three things: the produce, the people and the place.”
Prevue attended an event in San Francisco and spoke with several winemakers about why groups should visit these Australian wineries. Here are five that standout for events.
Established in 1858, Tyrrell’s Wines is now headed by fourth-generation family member Bruce Tyrrell. Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley winery is located in Pokolbin (about two hours north of Sydney), and is available for tours and tastings. Attendees can visit the original iron bark hut that founder Edward Tyrrell once lived in and the Short Flat Vineyard, home of Australia’s most-awarded white wine, Vat 1 Semillon. The winery hosts several of its own events—such as Jazz in the Vines, now in its 22nd year—throughout the year and has hosted past corporate events for as many as 3,500 attendees, says Bruce Tyrrell.
Samuel Smith, a British migrant and English brewer, founded Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, in 1849. Five generations later, Robert Hill-Smith is now the managing director of the winery, located nearby Angaston in South Australia. For groups, Hill-Smith says staff at the winery can lead lessons in barrel making, wine blending and even cooking classes. The venue also has a wide variety of venues for groups, including the Signature Cellar for up to 100 attendees interested in networking amidst wine barrels from the Yalumba Signature wine, made since 1962. The Yalumba Wine Room, for smaller groups, can seat 40 to 60 people or 30 at one long dining table, and the Yalumba Side Lawn can host up to 300.
Located in the Ngambie Lakes region of central Victoria, Tahbilk uses several traditional winemaking techniques that have not changed since the winery’s inception in 1860. The winery comprises some 3,000 acres, including a 1,000-acre wetlands. Attendees can take an eco cruise throughout the area via the 30-person boat owned by the winery. Alister Purbrick, chief executive of the winery, says that winery staff can do rotating tours for larger groups. The café, garden and smaller church onsite are available for events.
The Henschke family started making wine in 1862 for family and friends, and later released their wine for commercial use in 1868. Groups can visit the winery’s Cellar Door tasting room in Keyneton, South Australia. Meeting planners can plan a private VIP Tour and Tasting for smaller groups where attendees will walk the Hill of Grace vineyard before heading to a private tasting room.
d’Arenberg, located in McLaren Vale, South Australia, does things a little differently. In the wine world, the winery is known for its range of fortified and dessert wines. In the events world, it will soon be known for its new wine-tasting room that will also be available for events up to about 200 attendees. Currently in the planning process, the building is designed to look like a Rubik’s cube with different levels jutting out from the next. Scheduled to open at the end of 2016, attendees should look forward to the wine fog room where they will be able to actually inhale wine, says Chester Osborn, chief winemaker and viticulturalist for the winery. Attendees can also test their skills at wine blending, go on an off-road tour or participate in a private masterclass during their winery visit.