What’s Happening In The Highlands Food & Wine Scene
Well, it’s been one helluva year so far, and we’re only halfway through it. Although it actually feels like 2020 has been three years long already, right?
As restrictions start to ease, the food and bevvie businesses of the Southern Highlands are starting to see a light at the end of a tunnel that managed to squeeze droughts, bushfires, floods and a global pandemic into it – that was some tunnel!
And while we’re not out of the woods yet and businesses are still working their way through the restrictions imposed on them by COVID-19, we thought it would be a good idea for the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association to share some positive case studies of how businesses in the food and wine industry not only pivoted but chucked in a few Riverdance kicks and fancy Elvis moves to keep their heads above water.
Many businesses will be keeping some of the changes they made to their business model post COVID because customers have liked them so much, so keep supporting your local cellar doors, distilleries and breweries, cafés and restaurants, farmers and fresh food producers, pubs, bars and clubs , bakers, butchers, deli's and more.
Oh, and seeing the way 2020 is going, an asteroid hitting Bong Bong Street or aliens landing up on The Gib is not outside the realms of possibility, so if you're a business owner, it’s good to be prepared and grab a few ideas from these case studies just in case we’re thrown another curve ball.
These guys developed their own Ration Beer in response to having to close the doors of the brewery to the public, selling it online and organising home delivery across the Highlands. How good was beer turning up on your doorstep when socially isolating? As restrictions have eased, Eden Brewery is opening up and collaborating with another awesome local business, Gumnut Patisserie to offer food and dining options that meet COVID-safe requirements.
The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop
Fiona is the owner of this beautiful store in Berrima and in a few short weeks, she adapted from the traditional retail model and embraced online sales (and all the hard work that goes with setting that up). Fiona took the opportunity to develop and showcase new products including stunning hampers, and stayed connected with her community and customers by sharing ‘how to’ videos online. We loved the baking scones for Mum on Mother’s Day vid!
Cellar doors across the Southern Highlands progressively closed as restrictions started to tighten their grip on the wine industry. But, the team at Centennial also embraced online and came up with the concept of the Wine Survival Pack because….wine! They kept their eyes on the ball and were ready to open straight back up again when restrictions on cellar doors lifted at the end of May.
Stefano Marvello Cooking School
Timing was not on Stefano’s side! The Stefano Marvello Cooking School opened its doors the week before closures happened, but he did not retreat. Instead, he created an online cooking school as well as sharing awesome videos about how to cook the basics to get you through iso. He’s now taking bookings again for face to face classes, and if how popular the online classes were to go by, they will book up quick sticks too.
Marc’s Highland Tours
This fab local business that showcases our gorgeous region to so many visitors is back in the game this week thanks to the regional travel restrictions lifting on June 1 – sooooooo good, right? Marc is ready to roll with his Beers, Pies & Wines Tour and the Wine, Wine & Cheese Tour (we love anything that does wine twice, baby!). Become a tourist in your own region and sign up, or if you’ve got friends and family visiting, book in for a fun (and safe) group activity.
The Mill Markets
The team at The Mill got their virtual farmer's markets online super quickly. The result? Awesome local producers and businesses meant they had an outlet to keep selling their amazing produce, food, creations and products. The Loch, Mussett Holdings, General Store & Café Berrima, South Hill Kitchen, Mauger’s Meats, Ms Pho Canteen, Eschalot Restaurant, Cheese etc, Sweet Retreat Gelato, Veggie Nook, Bulwarra Bees, Life at Greenlaw, Tractorless Vineyard, Black Hen Kitchen, BARE Bites Bowls & Brew, Rush Roasting Co, Abbeyvale Cookies and Heart Spring Water were just some of the food and wine businesses The Mill’s online marketplace helped keep going. And it will continue to run for the forseeable future. Such a great way to shop and support local and fill up your pantry with all the deliciousness - awesome job, guys!
So what’s next?
Well, it’s all about finding ways to balance opening up safely with business profitability and that’s still not easy at the moment! Most cafes, restaurants and pubs that offered takeaway and home delivery during COVID will start to stop that offering as they resume in house dining and drinking.
The rules at the moment (and trust us, these rules change more times than a model at a fashion show at the mo!) is 1 person per 4 metres squared allowed inside, so not all (if any) venues will be back to maximum capacity. The moral of that story? Book ahead and book early!
So, Highlanders - let's keep doing what we do best. Keep supporting our local cafes, restaurants, wineries, producers, farmers, brewers, distillers as they find their way out of this!
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.