Promoted as one of the state's best regional wine-based festivals, this year's Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations is set to be a feast for the senses with a program boasting over 60 events held across October.
Hosted by Coonawarra Vignerons, the festival kicks off on Thursday, October 1 with bespoke tastings and special events proudly in place to provide locals and visitors unique experiences.
Acting executive officer and events and marketing manager Heidi Eldridge says a highlight on the region's wine event calendar, the month is designed to showcase and celebrate the Coonawarra signature red wine - Cabernet Sauvignon.
"With October offering five weekends, organisers have themed each one to appeal to a wide variety of tastes," she said.
The first weekend will see the Coonawarra Golf Day and Family Fiesta begin the festival, coinciding with the October long weekend.
The following weeks will see themes around blending wine, the region's heritage and new release wines - 'from barrel to glass', wrapping up with a 'showtime' theme - on the weekend that would have played host to the Penola show.
With October offering five weekends, organisers have themed each one to appeal to a wide variety of tastes.Acting executive officer and events and marketing manager Heidi Eldridge
Furthermore, Ms Eldridge says there will be plenty of opportunities for wine lovers, foodies and families alike to discover Coonawarra, while enjoying the world-class wines, country hospitality and sense of community.
"It is a great showcase and collaborative effort of our members with 24 of wineries hosting events or participating in combined regional events," she said.
Visitors to Coonawarra will enjoy a wide range of activities to 'celebrate, educate and activate their senses', including vertical tasting flights, chocolate and cheese wine pairing, make-your-own-blend activities, a golf day, dining experiences with winemakers, and live music and outdoor games on picturesque winery lawns.
One of the feature events on the calendar is the Regional Cabernet [Decade]nce Tasting, which Ms Eldridge said is a fantastic example of wineries co-presenting.
"The Cabernet [Decade]nce Tasting will bring together at least 15 producers and winemakers in one location to taste and compare 10-year-old wines with current releases," she said.
The event, which is typically held on a Friday evening has been rescheduled to Saturday afternoon, October 17 and is hoped to attract up to 100 Cabernet-lovers in the spacious Raidis Estate Event shed.
This seated, speed date style arrangement will feature winemakers and producers circulating the room to showcase their wines to each table of guests.
Tickets are available online for only $35pp and must be purchased in advance.
The Coonawarra Golf Day also returns as a feature event in the October program and begins the first of five weekends of events.
Presented by the Limestone Coast's 96.1 SAFM and 963 Triple M, the Coonawarra Golf Day will host teams of four in a day of social yet competitive Ambrose golf, at the well manicured Penola Golf Course.
"We have had a tremendous response to this year's Golf Day with team registrations filling well in advance of the day," Ms Eldridge said.
Teams will be vying for a chance to wear the coveted perpetual 'Red Jackets', along with other prizes presented throughout the day.
Like many events and festivals scheduled in 2020, the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations program of events has been affected by the circumstances surrounding COVID19.
"Our wineries have certainly had to consider the restrictions in place and adapt their offerings to ensure that capacity limits can be safely managed," Ms Eldridge explained.
"Events that have typically drawn a large crowd, combining live music, drinking, and dancing unfortunately were among the first to be withdrawn. Despite this, the program is still as extensive as ever.
"There is great emphasis being placed around the intimacy and exclusivity of events, with bookings highly recommended to avoid disappointment."
Examples of wineries modifying their events to suit the current climate is evident throughout the program.
"One of the much-loved events that sells out every October is the Balnaves of Coonawarra Sparkling Breakfast, a seated affair that attracted up to 100 people in their winery."
This year the family takes on a casual approach, serving up bacon and egg rolls from their Cellar Door for guests to grab and go, or to enjoy on the lawns with their signature Sparkling Cabernet.
"A great way to start the day of touring in Coonawarra," Ms Eldridge said.
Zema Estate is one of two wineries to offer a Virtual Tasting Event, inviting attendees from all over Australia to meet owner Nick Zema and Winemaker Joe Corey, while tasting their wines.
Pre-registration is essential for wine-packs to be received in time for the online event on Friday, October 9.
A shuttle bus, hop on, hop off style, will operate from Penola, travelling the Coonawarra Strip on weekends in October (excluding Saturday, October 31), to help visitors travel between wineries affordably at $20pp per day. Call 1800 861 190 to pre book.
"With spring in full flight, there's no better time to soak up Coonawarra. Take the time to celebrate, educate and activate your senses from October 1 to 31," Ms Eldridge added.
The event is made possible by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia with funding made available through the Regional Events and Festival Program.
For more information and to view the program of events, visit www.coonawarra.org.