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It’s time to raise a Toast to the Coast

Words by Penny Cordner 
Images supplied

There’s no better way to celebrate Geelong’s award-winning wine regions than raising a glass (or two) at the highly anticipated Toast to the Coast!

If you haven’t heard the news, this year’s two-day festival is set to be bigger than ever.

On Saturday 2nd November, cellar doors in the Bellarine and Moorabool wine regions will welcome you with live music, wine tastings and good vibes. And then, in a festival first, on Sunday (3rd November) 19 winemakers will showcase their finest drops at The Pier for the ultimate one-stop wine-tasting party.

Now in its 18th year, the beloved Toast to the Coast has well and truly earned its reputation as one of the region’s biggest events of the season. Only one hour from Melbourne, this outstanding yet under-the-radar wine destination should be on every wine lover’s list.

For those who want to enjoy the best elements of the festival without having to travel, the new Sunday format at the iconic Pier is for you. Spend your day sampling wines from all three regions under the one roof, with plenty of delicious food and smooth tune from live jazz bands.

If you are planning to visit the cellar doors themselves, a Saturday ticket will cover tastings of new wine releases and rare vintages at all of the participating wineries.

In the Moorabool Valley, you can visit seven different wineries, including Lethbridge Wines, Clyde Park and Austins & Co. While on the Bellarine Peninsula you can stop in at Oakdene Vineyard, Bellarine Estate, Basils Farm, Scotchman’s Hill and Leura Park Estate, to name a few.

Each cellar door will provide their own unique experience of music and entertainment, so the only real downside is deciding which wineries to visit.

To make things more enjoyable (and ultimately a lot easier) you can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus which offer hop-on-hop-off style all day long so you can easily travel from one venue to the next.

If you’re heading to the Bellarine Peninsula there is no better place to start than Basils Farm. This winery has one of the most breathtaking views across Swan Bay, and with plenty of space to enjoy tunes from local musician Anthony “ Della” Dellamarta and his band, you won’t want to leave.

In addition to a selection of wine and refreshing cocktails, you’ll be able to enjoy craft beers and tapas-style food using fresh ingredients from their own garden and other local suppliers. These tasty dishes will be served from their very own Basils Garden Bar – a converted 1970’s Viscount caravan, made lovingly by the in-house team.

If you can’t choose which drink to start with, Kim Dema, General Manager at Basils farm recommends their rose.

”It’s perfect for the springtime weather, made predominately from local Pinot Noir and it goes well with our fresh, seasonal spring/summer menu. It also makes a smashing Basils version of sangria, which you can taste at Toast to the Coast,” she says.

As this is the sixth time Basils Farm has been part of the event, Kim says that over the years they have noticed an increase in the number of visitors as well as their openness to trying new wine varieties. She also thinks the change to this year’s format means there truly is something for everyone.

“Saturday offers a fun, festival-type experience – great for relaxing and enjoying this beautiful region and then the Sunday is perfect for those that prefer to stay in one location and maximise their tasting experience.”

The launch of the ferry service from Docklands to Portarlington also means the region is more accessible than ever, with many first-time visitors to the area surprised by the beauty of the Bellarine.

“There is a lot of natural beauty with birdlife and protected wetlands around Swan Bay. There is also a good mix of old and new, with small boutique cellar doors where you can talk to the winemaker as well as modern wineries offering state of the art facilities,” says Kim.

WHAT: Toast to the Coast
WHERE: Geelong wine regions
WHEN: 10am-5pm on Saturday 2nd November at the wineries
11am-2pm OR 3-6pm on Sunday 3rd November at the Pier in Geelong

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