Love wine and live music? Then these Aussie festivals amongst vineyards are for you

Enotourism is one of my favourite hobbies. Visiting vineyards, tasting the wine (often straight from the barrel) and witnessing the whole process from harvest to bottling are things I could honestly do every single day.

But there’s one ingredient that can make this experience even more wholesome and complete – live music.

Thankfully, concert promoters and event organisers in Australia are a clever bunch. And they also concluded that there’s nothing better in the summer/autumn season than a music festival at a wine estate. So this week, I’m taking you on a tour of some tasty events that are (hopefully still) scheduled to take place in a winery setting Down Under.

PART 94 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

When I was in my twenties, I always said that I wanted to own a vineyard when I grew up.

That adult part of my life is supposedly happening now. But it looks like the “wine” dream is a little far from coming true. So I’ve become an avid wine estates visitor instead. And I was on cloud nine in that regard Down Under.

Aussies don’t take any prisoners when it comes to their Chardy and Pinot. Consequently, their wine industry is a solid contributor to the country’s economy. The wine estate owners are also very eager to expand their “fanbase” beyond the usual consumer groups.

And everybody knows that Aussies also love a good party with a few bangers. So a lot of wineries have partnered with concert promoters to create new experiences.

To be honest, I’d hate to be an event organiser these days.

Even in February 2022, almost two years into the pandemic that brutally knocked out the live performance sector, nothing is a given. Not the gig’s date, nor its location, nor even the line-up. Things change so quickly these days that rocking up to the festival site doesn’t guarantee it will go ahead.

For instance, Music In The Vines, a boutique “festival with a purpose” held annually at Suffoir Vineyard in Macarthur (South-West VIC) was rescheduled to 2023 four days before starting. It’s a real blow to the organisers of this community-run event that celebrates “what the local area has to offer”.

There are, however, a few events that are still going ahead this year (as of today, 9 February 2022). I want you to consider four of them.

GRAPEVINE GATHERING

Bio: This “glorious gathering of wine and music” had its debut in VIC in 2017. Even though it’s set in wineries, beer lovers will also be catered to. And when it comes to music, it focuses on electronic, pop and dance acts, with occasional additions from other genres.

Wine regions: Swan Valley, WA; Hunter Valley, NSW; Yarra Valley, VIC

Wine estates: Roche Estate (NSW), Rochford Wines (VIC), Sandalford Wines (WA)

Dates: In normal circumstances, Saturdays in November/December. This edition has been rescheduled to January 2022 first. And then WA has been pushed back even further, to April 2022.

Line-up: Peking Duk, The Jungle Giants, Vera Blue, The Veronicas, San Cisco and more

Other info: Sadly, the NSW leg for 2022 has been cancelled altogether in mid-Jan due to the last-minute COVID-related regulations, aka “no singing, no dancing outdoors”.

Fun fact: Their marketing is top. “So don’t make a pour decision” and check out the festival’s Instagram profile for all the “grape times”.

Tickets: Grapevine website

SUNSET SOUNDS

Bio: Advertised as bringing “the best home-grown Aussie artists to dream locations around Oz”. Empire Touring is behind this “festival of classics”. It’s a one-day event with around 10 acts and massive Aussie hits.

Wine regions: Yarra Valley (VIC), Hunter Valley (NSW), Mudgee (NSW)

Wine estates: Rochford Wines (VIC), Craigmoor Wines (NSW), Roche Estate (NSW)

Dates: Normally, October-November, but this year it’s between February – April 2022

Line-up: Daryl Braithwaite, Kate Ceberano, Xavier Rudd, Josh Pyke, Busby Marou and more

Other info: Not all legs of the festival take place at wine estates.

Fun fact: Depending on the location and date, the line-ups are different. And Rochford Wines are hosting the festival twice.

Tickets: Sunset Sounds website

WILDFLOWER

Bio: This is a completely new event on the Aussie festival map, but I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay. What differentiates it from others is that it celebrates women in music. So the line-up is composed of solely female artists.

Wine regions: Yarra Valley (VIC), Hunter Valley (NSW), Mudgee (NSW)

Wine estates: Rochford Wines (VIC), Craigmoor Wines (NSW), Roche Estate (NSW)

Dates: March, April & October 2022

Line-up: Missy Higgins, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Sarah Blasko, Alice Skye and more

Other info: The QLD leg in Brissie is not set at a wine estate.

Fun fact: Empire Touring’s festival game is really strong. This is also one of their events.

Tickets: Ticketek website

WINE MACHINE

Bio: The organisers emphasise that, despite it being a music festival, Wine Machine is a “stimulation for all senses”. The event is equally about sound, food and wine. And apparently, the regional produce is top quality.

Wine regions: McLaren Vale (SA), Yarra Valley (VIC), Hunter Valley (NSW)

Wine estates: Serafino Winery (SA), Rochford Wines (VIC), Roche Estate (NSW)

Dates: It’s also been rescheduled from December 2021 to March and April 2022.

Line-up: Spacey Jane, Masked Wolf, Thundamentals, PNAU, Hayden James and more

Other info: There is a Canberra leg, too. But it’s not a wine estate location.

Fun fact: Apart from all the Aussie talent, you’ll also get the NZ phenomenon, BENEE in some locations.

Tickets: Wine Machine website

Now, let’s talk about some conclusions that can be drawn from the four festivals I’ve just described.

It looks like most of the events are taking place in the same places all the time. Yarra Valley in Victoria (VIC) or Hunter Valley in New South Wales (NSW) dominate in that aspect. The latter one is the oldest wine region in Australia, dating back to the 19th century. So, obviously, its reputation is undeniable.

But there are other locations Down Under as well. And I’m actually surprised very few music festivals are happening in South Australia (SA) which has four excellent wine regions. Tasmania (TAS) could also make a case for it. Queensland (QLD) and Northern Territory have no notable places, so they’re automatically excluded.

You’ll also have noticed that some wine estates, like Rochford Wines or Roche Estate host most events. In the beginning, I thought it was a pure monopoly, but the reason is a bit different. They simply have enough space on their grounds to build massive stages and “festival villages”. That’s why they’re quite popular with the organisers.

The line-ups are fairly diverse. COVID has made it increasingly more difficult to bring acts from overseas, so promoters have no other choice but to focus on the local talent. But we all know what it’s like: if a band is releasing a new album, they’ll want to appear everywhere. So, sometimes, line-ups might be repetitive.

Not in the cases of the four festivals I’ve mentioned above. Each one of them seems to highlight a different aspect of the Aussie music scene. Wildflower gives voice to women. Sunset Sounds plays with the nostalgic note. And Grapevine relies on the dance vibes above all.

To summarise, let me ask you this question again. What’s better than sipping a glass of chilled Chardonnay on a warm Indian summer evening whilst listening to your fave band play live on a stage set amongst the vines?

Nothing.

So go support both wine tourism and live music in the next couple of months if you can.

Cover image: Wine Machine background. Source: Wine Machine website.


Get social with Silly McWiggles here:

Wanna get to know other great Aussie festivals? Check out these posts:

Why Laneway is one of my favourite Australian festivals

I have referred to Aussie music festivals multiple times on this blog because music events come in all shapes, colours and sizes in Oz. Especially in the summer you can basically spend your time following the biggest events around the country and not have a break for one weekend. Pretty cool, hey? PART 29 OF […]

Is Ability Fest the most accessible music festival in Australia?

Short answer: yes. Not only that. It’s also the first of its kind Down Under. So there’s no need for me to write an entire post about it, right? But the reasons behind its conception are definitely worth shining a light on. Because you can’t talk about Ability Fest without mentioning the festival’s founder. PART […]

Queensland – get ready for your new favourite music venture, the Coochiemudlo Island Festival

When Bluesfest was cancelled for the second year in a row and just one day before its kick-off this past March, many event organisers (including Bluesfest’s founder, Peter Noble) were surely shocked. Suddenly, questions about the feasibility of staging any outdoor gigs anytime soon started being taken more seriously again. Even the ones with proper […]