OUR region’s signature export – wine – took top billing at the long weekend as thousands sampled country hospitality Griffith-style.
Some of the district’s biggest wineries threw open their cellar doors for the annual unWINEd event, an epicureans delight that was in parts indulgent, entertaining and oh-so-relaxing.
The wine festival headlined a jam-packed weekend in Griffith, which included the colour and energy of the Sikh Games, the community heart of the Italian Republic Day dinner and Nick Scott Fundraiser and two major sporting events.
And with accommodation houses and local restaurants full on Friday and Saturday nights, council’s tourism manager Rick Matkowski said the June long weekend was fast becoming Griffith’s number one tourism event.
“Easter tends to be more locals than visitors and the town doesn’t get as booked out as it did this weekend,” Mr Matkowski said.
“The amount of outside money coming in is incredible and it has a huge benefit for the private sector – from supermarkets to service stations.
“unWINEd is becoming recognised as one of the best wine events in regional Australia and the wineries should be congratulated for putting on a very classy event.”
McWilliam’s cellar door manager Karin Penninga said visitor numbers had been strong at the Hanwood winery.
“It’s been really good and the wine blending masterclass we held has been an absolute success,” Ms Penninga said.
“We’ve been surprised by the amount of people wanting to taste high-end wines and it’s been a very educated crowd.
“The weather’s been beautiful and we’re really happy.”
Other wineries to host events included Yenda’s Yarran Wines, Westend Estate, Berton Vineyards and De Bortoli.
The weekend was estimated to bring in more than a million dollars of outside money to struggling businesses.
Mr Matkowski said the mere fact Griffith could host an event like the Sikh Games was testament to the city’s multicultural harmony.
“It’s incredible a place with such a small population could have such a unique thing like the Sikh Games when we’re really known for our Italian community,” he said.
The MIA Tennis Open and the NSW Country Cup soccer also lured hundreds of outside visitors to Griffith, he said.