The Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival was held this weekend at the beautiful Corbett Gardens in Bowral. The festival is held to celebrate and showcase the fine food and wine available in this culinary inspiring region of NSW . The easy drive to Bowral from our home in south west Sydney took just over an hour. We arrived in time to enjoy a coffee and have a look at the fashionable shops before progressing on to Corbett Gardens which were ablaze with colour from the many  blooming tulips on display.

B tentsandflowers  BF creek  B ptulips  

The food and wine festival was small but stunning. The merchants that attended the festival represented some of the areas finest food, wine and restaurants of the region. Combined with the atmosphere created by the picturesque gardens we felt like we had stepped into a very sophisticated picnic.

B pergola  B picnic  B oliveoil

We started out by tasting wines produced closer to home from Fussy Grape of Camden and Razorback Wines in Menangle before browsing through and tasting the quality eats from the other tents scattered around the garden.

B fussygrape BF daff B-razorback

There was a big wine presence at the festival this year, not surprising given the area is a notable wine producing area. We attended the sparkling and pinot noir masterclasses which were hosted by Eling Forest Wines.

B masterclass  B tulippath  B winetents

At the sparkling masterclass we were intrigued to learn about the traditional way of making sparkling wine using yeast and a second fermentation to create the bubbles. The yeast needs to be removed prior to drinking. To achieve this bottles are stored to ferment tilted on wooden riddling racks and turned a little each day. This process takes a few weeks with the yeast accumulating in the bottle neck.

B RRacks  B wineb  B glasses

The yeast is removed by standing the bottle neck, upside down in liquid nitrogen for a few minutes creating a frozen plug of yeast. The bottle cap is then removed and pressure in the bottle expels the yeast plug.The bottle is then topped up and corked ready for chilling and drinking. We were told this more arduous method of making sparkling wine is the reason that traditionally made sparkling are more expensive. They do seem to be made with a little more skill and love. Maybe that's also the reason for the better bubble this method produces.We also compared a few ciders, meads and beers as they have bubbles too.

B lagers  B yellowflowers  B beer

Later in the day we attended the Pinot Noir Masterclass and learnt about flavours. The interesting comparison they shared with us was the difference between boutique and commercial wine flavours. Artisan or boutique wines may have flavour changes year to year depending on the growing conditions. Rain, heat or lack of it will naturally affect the flavour of the grapes each growing season. Commercial producers are required to maintain the same flavour due to their marketing requirements.

B pinot  B rockery

At lunch time we sat on the grass and shared same various plates of food. It took a while to decide what to have as we wanted it all. We ended up choosing a gnocchi and risotto dish to start then after another walk picked up some satay pork and fresh spring rolls.

B alpaca  B bread  B duck

B lunch1  B ricerolls  B satay

 While we ate lunch we watched the filming of an episode of 'Alive and Cooking' with celebrity chef James Reeson.

B aac1  B bridge  B-aac2

B icedtea  B olives  B tarts

B rosepetals  B tea  B hampers

When we had absorbed everything the food festival had to offer we stepped out into the Bowral streets to explore some of the stores we spotted earlier in the day. We were in awe of all the lovely cheese at Bowral’s cheese shop and couldn't leave empty handed. It was a similar story at the chocolate shop.

  B cheese  B tulips  B loot   

As we knew we would be wine tasting we sensibly preplanned to stay overnight in prebooked accommodation. Sunday morning we completed our Southern Highlands food experience with a nice breakfast at Janeks Cafe. We both quickly chose the same dish from the menu. House cured ocean trout with poached eggs, dill, guacamole and made to order hollandaise sauce. It was delightful, as was the coffee.

BF breakfast  B latte 

 Finally before heading home we popped into the Gumnut Patisserie and grabbed some sweet sensations for the loved ones waiting at home.

BF gumnut  B redtulip  B Pastry

The Southern Highlands is an exciting region very easily accessible from Western Sydney for day trips or longer stays. The area is renown for good food and wine, hatted restaurants and guided food tours. Complimenting its fine cuisine are the plenty of things to see and explore. In past visits, we have enjoyed drives, waterfalls, caves, bushwalking and museums in the various communities that are part of this beautiful region.

B tastetours  B tulip  B trike    

Hopefully we will see you at the festival next year!