Update (14 August 2019, 7.14pm)
Festival organisers IMG wish to provide a correction.
IMG has confirmed that exhibiting at the Festival’s Gourmet Feast in the Valley in the Swan Valley is open to everyone and breweries can be involved in other events in the Swan Valley as well. There has been a miscommunication and they will rectify it and talk to Mash Brewing direct.
In coming weeks we’ll be announcing the full program for Gourmet Feast in the Valley and look forward to sharing this with you.
Swan Valley breweries have been locked out of a major food and beverage festival in their own backyard in another blow to increasing beer tourism in the district.
Organisers of the expanded Gourmet Escape, a State Government-backed initiative with international exposure, told breweries wanting to participate in the new segment being held in the Swan Valley in November they would not be accepted because of the event’s partnership with rival Gage Roads.
The Gourmet Escape started as a food and wine extravaganza in Margaret River, attracting luminaries including Nigella Lawson and Rick Stein. It has also featured many breweries from WA’s South West.
The State Government expanded the concept this year to include a satellite festival in the Swan Valley. It was hoped the changes would increase tourism exposure in the food, wine, artisan and brewing district on the edge of Perth’s metropolitan area.
But Mash Brewing Sales Manager Paul Fahie said his company’s application to be a stallholder at the new event was denied by State Government-appointed organiser IMG.
“It was indicated to us by IMG that no other brewers apart from Gage Roads would be at the Swan Valley event,” Fahie said. “They said there was nothing they can do for us.
“We would have liked to showcase our brewery as part of the producers in the Valley and let people know there are good beers in the area.
“If people are coming to the Valley for the first time for the festival it would have been good to let them know we are around if they make return trips to the area.
“We thought the festival might open up opportunities for local producers but we’re locked out.”
Apart from Mash, Feral, Duckstein, Elmar’s, Ironbark and Homestead have breweries in the district.
Mash, which won the Champion Beer Trophy at the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, wanted to point out they didn’t have an issue with Gage Roads, based in Palmyra almost 50km away from the Swan Valley, but were disappointed with the IMG decision.
Premier Mark McGowan weighed into the debate on Radio 6PR this morning, saying, “I’d prefer the Swan Valley breweries get exposure” from the Gourmet Escape.
He vowed to look into the issue with IMG.
In a strange twist, the Margaret River segment of Gourmet Escape, which also has Gage Roads as a senior commercial partner, will feature breweries from the South West. Indeed, there is a special “Battle of the Breweries” afternoon at Leeuwin Estate.
The snub for the Swan Valley breweries follows the collapse of a special bus service that was bringing interstate and overseas visitors to the region at a time when venues are struggling for tourism dollars.
The Swan Valley Hop-on Hop-off bus, also backed by the State Government, was pulled when funding for the service ran dry.
“We had some good traffic from the bus,” Fahie said. “Now we have another disappointing result.”