Tastes of Rutherglen draws 2500 festival-goers on March 11 and 12, 2017

TASTES of Rutherglen topped all records of previous years.

The two-day North East progressive gourmet dining experience attracted increased online ticket sales and meals served over the weekend-long festival.

Winemakers of Rutherglen executive officer Natalie Ajay said online pre-sale tickets were up more than 30 per cent this year.

Ms Ajay said final ticket numbers would be confirmed on Friday.

“At this stage it’s estimated that 2500 people visited the festival over the two days,” she said.

Ms Ajay said the 19 participating wineries at Rutherglen and Wahgunyah were delighted with the response to the festival held in near-perfect autumn conditions.

The wineries teamed with regional chefs to offer a variety of savoury or sweet dishes matched to their different wine styles.

“Many wineries exceeded expectations and sold more meals than ever in 2017,” Ms Ajay said.

Ms Ajay said the regional and winery shuttle buses played a huge part in the smooth-running of the festival.

She said more than 1000 patrons used the service over the weekend.

“The live music at many venues was a huge hit with young and old, and the kids’ activities made the family-friendly festival a fantastic opportunity for all ages to enjoy the sunshine,” she said.

Campbells Wines offered a muscat cocktail masterclass at its winery on both days of the festival.

People tested their mixology skills with the world’s richest wine, all wrapped up in a Riedel glass to keep.

Lake Moodemere Estate hosted private tastings with sixth generation wine producer Michael Chambers.

It included a full range of single vineyard wines and exclusive back vintages.

Winemaker Damien Cofield and Hurdle Creek Gin co-owner Simon Brooke-Taylor teamed up to host a wine and gin mixology masterclass on both days of the festival. 

Participants discovered new trends of mixing wine and spirits to find their new favourite cocktail combination.

Stanton and Killeen Wines hosted a Portuguese Masterclass to focus on alternative varieties.

There were guided tastings of sparkling tempranillo, rose, The Prince, vintage port and two new releases.

Supported by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), many designated drivers took advantage of the free tea and coffee and bottled water at the festival. 

Wineries now gear up for the longest-running wine festival in Victoria, Winery Walkabout on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.