Wine appreciators drink to the long weekend | Photos

The fact the Winter Wine Festival was called off this year didn’t deter wine drinkers from far and wide from partaking in festivities.

Thousands converged on local wineries to socialise over the long weekend. 

Earlier this year, it was announced the Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival had become a victim of its own success.

The 15th annual festival was cancelled.

One of the festival organisers and owner of the Silos Estate, Raj Ray said the popularity and growth of the event, along with meeting requirements from the various stakeholders involved, had proven a huge challenge.

“The event has gone from 120 people 15 years ago, to more than 10,000 last year,” he said.

“The level of compliance and regulation for an event that size is huge.

“We have been working hard to meet all the requirements from the likes of NSW Police, Roads and Maritime Services, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing [OLGR], Shoalhaven City Council as well as wineries themselves for the past six months.

“We all want a safe, enjoyable and happy event.

“Last year’s growth took everyone by surprise. Numbers were up by 20 per cent on the previous year.

“The festival has virtually grown by 20 per cent year on year. That’s fine when it is a small event.

“The bigger the event gets the more layers of regulations there are.

“It was not just the regulations of the various authorities involved but also the criteria the wineries put on themselves as well.

“Unfortunately, we have simply run out of time to ensure we have a safe and enjoyable event.”