What’s Happening In The Highlands Food & Wine Scene

Ooooookay, to say we’re in crazy times is a bit of an understatement right now. But you know us! We are ALWAYS determined to stay positive and focus on how we can make a difference to our awesome region and our even awesome-er (is so a word!) businesses. 

We spoke to Renee Wallace, President of the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association about how our local food and beverage industry is showing initiative, tenacity and resilience through this latest challenge

This what they’re doing….and this is how you can help their businesses be there at the end of all of this.


Renee Wallace President of the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association

Renee Wallace


1 // What we are going through is unprecedented. How have food and wine businesses in the Highlands responded to this latest crisis?

The food and wine industry has been impacted collectively like never before. The operational restrictions put in place has required every single business to adapt dramatically if they want to remain operational. While some have chosen to hibernate to preserve what they have, those that have chosen to remain open have transformed their businesses, seemingly overnight, and continue to adapt as the situation evolves. New collaborations and collectives have emerged, businesses have diversified their product offerings and the network of support has strengthened.


2 // What else can businesses be doing to keep their doors open (metaphorically!)?

Every single businessperson I have spoken to that has their doors open for business are literally already doing everything within their capabilities to be open. They are diversifying their product, accommodating changing consumer behaviour, adapting their purchasing channels, collaborating with other businesses and much more. Keeping their doors open is now reliant on support.


3 //  How can locals support our cafes, restaurants, wineries, breweries, farmers and producers?

Simply choose to support local! From buying coffee at a local cafe, meat from a local butcher, a meal from a restaurant, subscribing to a veggie box delivery, pick up a local drop from a Highlands vineyard for date night  at home (or any night!) - just be mindful of these choices and make sure you are choosing the most local option possible.

Following your local providers on social media and sharing and liking posts is another super simple way to show support.

Tell your friends and family about what these awesome businesses are doing. I know it seems like we have been saying this since the bushfires, but supporting a local business has more benefits and positive impacts than you can imagine, and right now this support is what is needed to ensure these beloved businesses are here at the end of this crisis.


Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association Advice for Businesses during COVID-19


4 // How is the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association providing support to their members and the industry through this?

The information businesses needed to understand their position, as well as understand what support is available to assist with their survival has been slow and undefined, so it has been a difficult few weeks working our way through all of that.

The Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association has been focussed on collecting and sharing more immediate and practical assistance that we’ve identified is needed through our own experiences. This includes mental health services – so important right now! - initiatives available to the beverage industry to access new distribution channels, social media and marketing education and more.

We’ve also been available to assist the industry in those day-to-day practical issues experienced from those pivoting such as where to find food packaging and who to use to update websites to accommodate online purchasing.



5 // We know you don’t have a crystal ball (although that would be handy right about now!) but tell us how and when you see the Highlands food & bevvie scene bouncing back from this.

The landscape will be different. Not just here, but everywhere. How different I don't think can be estimated at this stage. And when … well you’ve struck gold if you find someone with that answer!

It can be said that crises drives resilience, and there has been a mountain of this demonstrated over the past few weeks. This resilience along with the adaptive business remodelling we have seen, I believe bodes well for the quality, strength and innovation of our industry.

However, time will be our greatest threat, and how many businesses can manage and adapt to this  very likely, lengthy hiatus. But how they bounce back will be intriguing to watch as there is an opportunity right now for business owners to stop and assess their models, their relevance, their products, their delivery and use this time to effectively survive and thrive.


Thanks Renee! So, Highlanders - let's do what we do best. Keep supporting our local cafes, restaurants, wineries, producers, farmers, brewers, distillers and do what we can to help keep them operating.

And if you're a local food & bevvie business and need some extra support and direction, check in with the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association - they are there for you. 



For local foodie and wine businesses...

If you want to become a member of the Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association, click here or if you would like to be kept up to date with what the association and all their members are up to, be sure to check back in here at The Fold - we’ll be updating this awesome page monthly. You can sign up for the Association’s newsletter here or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.


Food and Wine



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