The Adelaide Hills’ annual Crush Festival will return in early 2014 with an abundance of cellar door parties in celebration of the region’s latest wine releases.
This year more than 40 wineries will participate in the festival, which will fall on Sunday, January 19, with a huge variety of free and ticketed events to set the Hills alight ranging from a Caribbean-inspired carnival to high-end degustation dinners. Young guns Andrew and Michael Downer, the brothers behind Murdoch Hill, will host a boutique arts market in their storage shed. This is their third year in a row taking part in Crush. “We don’t have a cellar door, but we have this huge shed (which is normally used for storing wine) so we’re going to clear that out with an outdoor area for an arts market. We’ve got about six or seven artists involved,” Andrew Downer explains.” The artists include Oakbank resident Rene Strohmayer, who will be wheeling in her very own art caravan, alongside Kitty Came Home, metal artists Anna Small and Warren Pickering, Collecte Jewellery, hand-made and recycled toys by One Little Sparrow as well as wooden objects from Delilah Devine. The arts market will be accompanied by Argentinian street eats via a food truck, which will be parked at the vineyard throughout the festival. The idea for the arts market came from a direct reference to Murdoch Hill’s latest wine release: the `Artisan’ range. “We called it the `Artisan’ range, so I guess that’s the link to the local artists. Most of the current wines in the range were done in really small batches and hands-on, with minimal ﬁ ltration,” Downer explains. “As well as the Landau Syrah, over the weekend we’ll have tastings of a slightly unﬁ ltered Chardonnay and a Pinot Meunier, which is a grape variety usually used in sparkling white that I guess you could say is a relative of pinot noir. That one’s just tasting beautiful.” Another winery embracing local artwork is Longview, which has long run street art competition Krush Klinic as part of the festival. This year, to avoid confusion, they’ve renamed the event The Piece Project, which will feature four leading street artists – Orbs, CWR, Heesco and Mike Maka – in a battle to win the label artwork of the next `The Piece’ 2012 Reserve Shiraz. Each artist will set up at the winery early in the day and have ﬁve hours to complete an aerosol work on a four-metre wide by three-metre high canvas. “We put them on big metal easels and strap them to tractors and things like that, anything that’ll support them!” laughs Longview winemaker Mark Saturno. “We provide all the paint and a loose brief – we essentially tell them to avoid obvious things like grapes and grapevines – and each artist has ﬁve hours to complete their painting.” Alongside the artwork, this year’s The Piece Project will also see the release of Longview’s hotly anticipated 2010 Shiraz, live tunes from DJ James Curd (Greenskeepers) and a US- inspired BBQ. “We don’t do face painting or bouncy castles or anything like that. Watching the artists paint is the entertainment. Instead of encouraging people to get boozed, we want them to come for the day and experience watching something really unique,” Saturno says. On the other side of the spectrum, a number of themed degustations will kick off around the region. Nepenthe in Balhannah will host a Parisian picnic; while Barrister’s Block in Woodside will embrace African food ﬂ avours complete with Burundian drummers and trade stalls. Then of course, there’s the post-tasting entertainment. Howard Vineyard in Nairne will lure costumed-up wine drinkers with a Madhatter’s Theme, while Maximillian’s in Verdun will be conducting a golf challenge – not to mention dishing up giant paella. Perhaps the most ambitious cellar door party idea yet, however, goes to Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard, who will go all out with a Caribbean carnivale Crush Festival Adelaide Hills Sunday, January 19 crushfestival.com.au