We arrived early at Festa della Vendemmia . I was eager and hungry and we had travelled 300 kilometres to be there. Regardless of our early arrival we were given a warm welcome and I knew immediately we were in for a special evening.
Festa della Vendemmia is a “feast of the grape harvest” promoting the International Slow Food philosophy of ‘good, clean, and fair’ The dinner showcased a range of produce grown and manufactured solely in the Sunraysia area, including local wines and beers. The dinner was a friendly degustation on long tables set beneath high trellis vines on the Garreffa family vineyard in Irymple, hosted by Slow Food Mildura.
The evening air in the vineyard was hot, humid and perfectly still. We enjoyed a cold local beer while we watched two ladies expertly make zeppoli right before our eyes. Soon we were devouring these traditional Italian pieces of fried dough, stuffed with anchovies or dried fruit. Just don’t tell your heart specialist about these incredible pre dinner treats!
Over the next 5 hours we enjoyed 6 courses of magnificent food including aged free –range prosciutto, Murray Cod, handmade canneloni and goat slow cooked in camp ovens. The finale to our main meal was a delicate pistachio frangipan tart served with fresh figs from the Garreffa’s own tree.
It was after midnight when we emerged from beneath the grapevine canopy only to discover even more delights. A massive wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano sat on top of a wine barrel surrounded by muscatels. Upon a neighbouring wine barrel sat a generous pile of whole wheat sourdough crostini. Although we were absolutely full it was hard to walk past without tasting just the tiniest morsel.
Before we boarded our bus the contented crowd gathered to collect generous goodie bags and a freshly made affogato with Frangelico, home-made vanilla bean ice cream and a slice of handmade crostoli. Every bus trip should involve a perfectly made affogato I have decided.
This was the most memorable evening. We were paying guests but it felt like we had been invited into a special family gathering.
This event has left me in awe of what can be achieved when a group of passionate, like-minded people put their heart and soul into sharing their knowledge and skills with the wider community. Congratulations to all involved, we hope to return again next year.
I did some research while writing this post and decided to share some descriptions with you.
A traditional Italian fried dough stuffed with anchovy or dried fruit in this case.
Meaning “little toasts”. Toasted slices of crusty bread.
Sweet crisp pastry that has been shaped into thin ribbons, deep fried and sprinkled with icing sugar.
Espresso coffee accompanied by 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream served in a cup. Can include a shot of liqueur.