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Italy via King Valley: Your spring foodie escape

Elisabeth Sander O'Hearn

Is your dream European summer holiday slightly out of reach?

Don’t unpack your suitcase just yet. With a backdrop of the picturesque Victorian Alps, the King Valley is a little piece of Italy right here in Australia and this year, 11 King Valley wineries have collaborated to host the annual La Dolce Vita Wine and Food Festival.

Held across two days, 19 – 20 November, the festival offers tastings of new release and carefully cellared wines, a chance to chat to the winemakers, plenty of activities for adults and kids alike, and a menu to match – think Sicilian style seafood, Nonna’s gnocchi and sweet cannoli. Tickets are $20 per person, valid for both days. King Valley is located just four hours down the Hume Highway from Canberra.

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Here we recommend the best ways to celebrate with gusto at the participating wineries during La Dolce Vita.

BROWN BROTHERS 

Sample the new release Brown Brothers Dry Rosé at the Pop Up Bar, matched with chilled King prawns – tastes made for the warmer weather. Or pop by the Barn Food Hall and do a little food and wine pairing yourself – maybe a beef brisket and slaw roll with local Pinot Grigio? If you’ve got a little more time to spare, indulge in the midday three-course lunch held by winemakers Katherine Brown or Joel Tilbrook at Patricia’s Table Restaurant.

Find more information here.

CHRISMONT

Taste Chrismont’s range of Riserva handcrafted wines as you relax to house tunes overlooking the Black Ranges of the upper King Valley at Chrismont. This architecturally-famous winery restaurant, larder and cellar door also offers La Zona Mediterranean and Classic European styles of wine that pair perfectly with antipasti and sharing dishes offered for casual visitors.

Find more information here.

DAL ZOTTO WINES

When he migrated from north-east Italy, Otto Dal Zotto had a desire to produce the Prosecco wine style of his homeland. Together with Otto, Michael and Christian Dal Zotto have been able to achieve this in the King Valley. During La Dolce Vita you can enjoy the fruit of their labours – delicious Prosecco – alongside traditional and fun cichetti, Italian-style tapas. Stay into the evening for Otto’s porchetta rolls, DJ, dancing and prosecco cocktails.

Find more information here.

DARLING ESTATE

This family-run winery will greet with you with a hearty welcome, carefully cellared wines and home-made smallgoods – all part of a personalised experience. This year, John Darling will be releasing his 2010 Nebbiolo and 2011 Riesling, both full of flavour from premium fruit If the weather calls for it, he doesn’t mind at all if you drink his aged Gamay chilled, and he’ll happily mix his Koombahla Estate white and rose wines into a spritzer with soda, mint and Christine’s grapefruit syrup.

Find more information here.

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PIZZINI WINES

There’s no shortage of things to do, taste and eat at Pizzini Wines during La Dolce Vita. Gnocchi is presented in three ways made from potatoes grown on site – and you can try your hand at rolling your own. Or, join in the wine-spitting competition – can you get the furthest? Children will enjoy kite flying and circus workshops, whilst parents taste new release wines and chat with the winemakers.

Find more information here.

POLITINI WINES

Located in the upper King Valley, with vineyards spread across red soil, the Politini family offers wine from both French and Italian varietals. Their heritage, however, is undeniably Sicilian. Pair the crisp, white Grecanico style with fresh seafood over lunch amongst the vineyard and orange groves. You might even catch Salvatore playing his accordion alongside the live music on offer.

Find more information here.

FRANCESCO WINES

Eat, drink and dance like an Italian across the festival weekend at this winery who will deliver a truly authentic Italian experience. Francesco’s full bodied Shiraz and Cabernets pair perfectly with their pasta and gnocchi with meat sauce, followed by coffee and Italian sweets.

Find more information here.

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LA CANTINA

Take some of the festival tastes and treasures home with you: you won’t be able to resist purchasing some local produce or handmande goods in the festival market at La Cantina. The Corsinin family make wines the traditional way, with no preservatives added, and varietals include the popular Sangiovese and Saperavi Match the wine with Nonna’s lasagna, finish with traditional apple cake.

Find more information here.

MERKEL WINES

Taste the finest of cool climate wines from Merkel Wines, sourced from a single vineyard winery in Myrhee. This is the first time the Merkel family is bottling this wine under their own name, but the family has a long history in the King Valley. Be sure to check out the new cellar door added to the beer garden, transforming the Moyhu Hotel.

Find more information here.

SYMPHONIA WINES

Start your day with Brunch in the Vines at one of the highest vineyard sites in the region, then continue in King Valley style with tastings of unique alternative varietal wines. This winery has recently relaunched their unique wine known as Quintus, but there’s also classic, aromatic whites such as Arneis and Pinot Grigio to celebrate the warm spring weather. Rake in a game of croquet on the lawns, and pick up a famous meringue to tide you over until your next stop.

Find more information here.

SAM MIRANDA

A tasting bar on the piazza out the back of Sam Miranda will be serving the winemaker’s Mountain Range wines, as pizzas come out of the oven. Get into the spring festival spirit with a Sam Miranda Frose – a slushie made with their fine 20-16 Rosato. Because wine should be fun! It might be the kids or the adults who most enjoy the treats stocked in Allegra’s Corner (read: lollies).

Find more information here.

Visit one winery or visit them all, you’re guaranteed to leave the King Valley beyond content. With a full stomach and having sipped some of Australia’s finest Italian wines, La Dolce Vita is the perfect destination to welcome the warm weather.

the essentials

What: La Dolce Vita | Wine and Food Festival
When: 19 + 20 November 2016
Where: King Valley Wine Region
How to get there: The Hume Freeway, the Maroondah and Midland Highways, and the Great Alpine Road. 4 hours from Canberra and 3 hours from Melbourne. Daily flights also operate from Albury airport.
For more information and ticket booking: www.winesofthekingvalley.com.au/events/la-dolce-vita

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Elisabeth Sander O'Hearn

Despite struggling to throw together a few catchy sentences about herself, Elisabeth hopes she can portray Canberra in a much more positive light. Although she’s read Her Canberra articles meticulously, Elisabeth has still fallen prey to making poor dining choices- a fate she wouldn’t wish on anyone. She may be leaving the country’s capital in a few weeks for some overseas travel – but she’ll only speak fondly of the city that’s been her home for the past nine years. More about the Author

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