Free food and wine event a timely pick-me-up
AT A time when business is down, jobs are at a premium and tourism is flailing, promotion of the Granite Belt has never been more important.
That's why events like this weekend's Regional Flavours in Brisbane, Australia's largest free food and wine event, is so integral.
"It's become bigger than Ben Hur," Sue Smith from Pyramids Road Wines said.
"I think they've done a fair bit of advertising and there's a lot who go now and it's growing and growing.
"You put your wine in front of a very large audience, over a very short time, so it's probably the best form of marketing.
"We missed out last year but have been going every other year. It's a bit of a ballot these days."
Fourteen businesses from the Southern Downs will attend this Saturday and Sunday, where 80,000 people are expected to pour into Brisbane's South Bank Parklands.
The event lives up to its name by grouping the businesses from their respective regions together.
It means the 10 Granite Belt wineries will be bunched together, while the four food operators will also be grouped together.
"It's great for the consumer because they can go along and say 'okay, I want to see what's happening in this region'," Mrs Smith said.
"It helps for tourism because they think 'oh well next time I'm out there I can do all these things'."
Martin Cooper from Ridgemill Estate has been going for about a decade.
"It just gets better and better. It is very, very worthwhile - not necessarily for sales on the day, but the market you reach," he said.
It will be the second time Matt Hibberd from The Summit's Truffle Discovery Centre has attended.
"We've been allowed back for the second time this year so it's fantastic," Mr Hibberd said.
"There's definitely some visitation we get to Stanthorpe after it, as well as some online ordering, so there's a number of benefits that can come from it."
He's pleased Southern Downs Regional Council is a partner of the event this year, after opting not to take part in 2018.
"I would love to see them doing more tourism promotion in the future."
Aside from business promotion, it's an opportunity to promote the drought plight the region is suffering through right now, he said.
"It's important we get the message out that we are still open for business here."
FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH: Council commits to event despite last year's snub
AFTER controversially deciding not to participate in 2018's Regional Flavours event, it seems Southern Downs Regional Council has had a change of heart this year.
Council announced last week it was "delighted" to be heading along to the two-day event in Brisbane.
It's a move away from their attitude towards the event last year, when council opted to give Australia's largest free food and wine event a wide berth.
"SDRC felt the money could be better utilised by undertaking the marketing activities and plans that have been set in place by EDT (council's economic development and tourism team), which are reaching far more people than the Regional Flavours attendees and benefiting more businesses in the region," a council spokesperson said in July last year.
This year the council is a regional event partner and Councillor for Economic Development, Regional Promotion and Tourism Rod Kelly said he was excited to attend.
"We all know the Southern Downs and Granite Belt is Queensland's premier wine region and is home to a sensational abundance of produce, so it's great we can show this off to food and wine lovers in Brisbane," Cr Kelly said.
"Ultimately, this event is about raising awareness of our region."
Local companies attending include: Ballandean Estate Wines, Casley Mount Hutton Winery, Granite Ridge Wines, Hidden Creek Winery, Just Red Wines, Pyramids Road Wines, Twisted Gum Wines, Robert Channon Wines, Symphony Hill Wines, Ridgemill Estate, Barambah Organics Dairy, Lirah Vinegar, Truffle Discovery Centre and Vivienne's Cottage Spice Shop.