ABOUT 3000 wine and food lovers took part in the first weekend of the Tastes of Rutherglen festival in a welcome boost for the region’s hotels and motels.
Festivalgoers wandered from winery to winery on Saturday and yesterday matching wine with nibbles like tartlets and roasted figs, slow-cooked beef cheeks and caramelised confit pork bellies.
The gluttony could be broken up by festival activities including cooking classes, wine making and helicopter rides to shuttle the more adventurous, or impatient, between the wineries.
Executive officer Judy Tanner Doyle said the first weekend was popular with tourists.
“This first weekend we had a lot of out-of-towners come in because it’s a long weekend.
"Next weekend, without the holiday, we find the circle gets a little smaller and they come from Wagga, Wangaratta and Albury,” she said.
Melbourne’s Lauren Hilbert, 29, said the slow-cooked beef cheek at Cofield Wines was a highlight.
“The food is delicious and it’s a great atmosphere with live music and beautiful weather,” she said.
The crowds were a welcome sight for hotel and motel owners in the area with many booked out during what is one of the busiest periods for the region.
Rutherglen Motor Inn’s Kevin Turner said the 15-room business was booked out at the weekend and only had one room left this weekend.
Mr Turner said most businesses rely on festivals like this.
“I’ve got 12 people booked this weekend and those 12 have booked at the pub for a meal,” he said.
“There’s a big flow-on effect for all the businesses.”