Last weekend, we escaped the madness of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival for the tranquil, laid back ocean lifestyle of Torquay for my beautiful sister’s Hen’s Weekend!
We were very lucky that we unintentionally timed the weekend perfectly to coincide with the Geelong Toast To The Coast festival!
Toast to the Coast is an annual wine festival celebrating the delicious food and wine Geelong has to offer! Throw in a trio of guys playing a banjo while sitting on hay bales on the back of a red truck (I’m not even kidding – it was glorious) and you have a festival not to miss!
We started the morning at Bellbrae Estate, where our cold little bodies were warmed with the smokey aromas of paella, and our glasses were filled by a beautiful woman named Di behind the counter. I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous gold Roxy watch on Di’s wrist, which I haven’t been able to get out of my mind as the perfect symbol of the day – a classically stunning, sophisticated watch, made by a surf brand.
That’s what Toast to the Coast was to me. A sophisticated, well put together event, held throughout one of the most laid back, surf cultured towns in Victoria. (The high occurrence of dread locks and man buns was very much appreciated, although the track pants and runners at the pub later that night, not so much.)
Bellbrae Estate offer a house and premium range of wines, both of which were a delight to taste.
I have started to notice a trend in my own tasting preferences, as you can’t help but choose a favourite wine when tasting. Lately, mine has always been the Shiraz.
The Bellbrae Longboard Shiraz ticked a lot of boxes for me!
Notably, this was quite a refreshing Shiraz, which is quite a rare quality in that variety. The lovely Di explained that this is attributed to the cool climate of the Geelong coast.
Plus any wine that references surfing is a winner for me!
The great thing about Toast to the Coast, was that so many wineries wanted to be involved, but that would obviously make it tricky for Toasters to get to every place. So what did these Geelong gems do? They brought the wineries to us!
As well as being able to taste the delicious wines from Bellbrae Estate, we also had the chance to taste from three other wineries who had come to join the party!
One to mention was a variety of wine I had never even heard of before – a Marsanne from Barwon Ridge Wines.
Marsanne is a white wine variety that grows predominately in the South of France, although also grown in Australia, Spain and in regions of America.
We tasted two separate harvest years of the Barwon Ridge Marsanne, which perfectly highlighted how a change in weather conditions and oak styles can have an incredible impact on the finished product.
The 2011 vintage was a cooler year and Barwon Ridge produced a lighter, unoaked style of Marsanne. The wine is now developing complex secondary honey flavours, and a richer colour.
The 2013 harvest of Marsanne was the first made in a new style at Barwon Ridge. The winemakers used whole bunch pressing to gently extract the juice, then part of the produce was fermented with wild yeast in French Oak, and while the rest was fermented in stainless steel.
Experimenting with different techniques has paid off for the team at Barwon Ridge, as the 2013 Marsanne has already won a bronze medal at both the International Cool Climate Wine Show, and the Geelong Wine Show.
Although we could have easily stayed a Bellbrae Estate all day, we jumped on our Chardonnay Chariot (ok the shuttle bus.. The SHIRAZ SHUTTLE BUS!!) and journeyed further along to Mt Duneed Estate (photo courtesy of @mtduneedestate Instagram).
My immediate reaction after walking through the elegant foyer bar into the restaurant? Wow. Just wow.
The Barrel Hall is huge. There was such a terrific industrial style about the place, from the giant metal silos lining the walls, to the few now unused silos protruding down from the roof, not to mention the giant blackboard wall on one side and the wall of wine barrels on the other.
This was the perfect place for us to sit down and enjoy a meal (which was delicious by the way) and a number of girls in our group agreed that if we were not already married, Mt Duneed Estate would be in serious contention for our venue! The lush green vines surrounded the building, and the view was just breath taking, so I couldn’t help but imagine posing for wedding photos against these gorgeous back drops.
And I haven’t even gotten to the wines yet!
Once again, the Shiraz was the winner for me. A beautiful smooth Shiraz with a hint of spice that gently tickles your tastebuds – how could I say no to a glass?
We sat down to wait for our meals, and our drinks were out straight away. I think this is the smartest form of service, because I will happily sit and keep drinking until my meal is delivered!
Our darling waiter seemed nervous while carrying our tray of drinks to our table, which was fair enough because there were probably 9 drinks on it! He made it all the way around the table until he has two glasses left – my deep red Shiraz, and another crisp clean Pinot Gris.
As our nervous cutie bent slightly to deliver the Pinot Gris to my friend on my left, he knocked the edge of the table and accidentally showered me with the contents.
Oh the poor thing! He was so apologetic and so worried!
But luckily for him, there were only a couple of thoughts in my mind:
1. I would happily bathe in wine if I didn’t think it was a waste not to drink it, and,
2. I was just glad it wasn’t the Shiraz, otherwise I would have to explain the Dexter-esque stains on my outfit..
“No officer, I promise I haven’t been out on a murderous rampage, just at a winery tour!!”
The staff at Mount Duneed Estate were just beautiful and did everything they could to make sure we were ok, but honestly, I was at a winery tour with a great group of girls celebrating the fact my sister is getting married in a couple of weeks – what else could I need to keep me happy?
So a big thanks to everyone involved with Toast To The Coast for a wonderful weekend, we’ll definitely be back next year!
For more details, follow @geelongwine on Instagram, search for Toast to the Coast on Facebook, or head to their website http://www.winegeelong.com.au/toast_to_the_coast.