Bridge Pa Wine Festival 'huge success'

By Roger Moroney

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WHEELING IN: For Leigh Youngman (left) and Shirley Richardson, the day was perfect for two-wheel travel between the participating wineries. PHOTO/ Paul Taylor
WHEELING IN: For Leigh Youngman (left) and Shirley Richardson, the day was perfect for two-wheel travel between the participating wineries. PHOTO/ Paul Taylor

The "huge success" of Saturday's second Bridge Pa Wine Festival which saw more than 1500 people enjoy the hospitality of seven wineries in that region meant it would become an annual summer event "on the Hawke's Bay map for years to come," event co-ordinator Paul Ham said.

"It was overwhelmingly successful and we have been getting a lot of very good feedback about it."

The success of the festival, which started out with 900 guests attending in 2015 and which was upped to over 1500 this time, meant it was likely to expand further, Mr Ham said.

"I think we could probably handle 2000 or more but we have to make sure we can deliver really good service to everyone because that is the key thing."

He said the Bridge Pa Triangle committee, made up of representatives from Alpha Domus, Ngatarewa Wines, Hawke's Ridge Wines, Ash Ridge Wines, Sileni Estates, Paratua and Abbey Cellars, would be meeting for a "de-brief" next month.

A date for the 2017 event would be finalised then, as would the proposal of expanding guest numbers even more.

"We will also look at how it went throughout the day and what needs streamlining."

Mr Ham said Saturday's festival was a crucial one, as with extra numbers of guests being catered for and transported throughout the day it tested the whole management set-up.

"And we got it pretty well 90 percent right," he said. "It was a good team effort and it worked out well."

Mr Ham said he had spoken to several people attending the day's events of wine, fine food and entertainment, and said it came through that many locals who attended last year had invited friends from out of town to join them this year.

The one thing they proudly told their friends, and he heard it several times, was "this is Hawke's Bay".

He said the crowds were well behaved and many had decided to take water along with them.

"I only had one concern first thing in the morning though," he said. "I was really afraid it was going to be too hot but then a nice sea breeze came through so it all worked in nicely."

Some transport issues from last year had pretty well been sorted out, Mr Ham said.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said January was traditionally the busy month for the region and the festival added a real "point of difference" to what was on offer.

"For this to become an annual event is absolutely great because there is a gap in the calender at that time and it all plays to the strengths of Bridge Pa and the wineries - it is so good."

Mr Ham said many festival-goers had called at the wineries yesterday to pick up the wines they had bought, as taking bottles back aboard the buses was not allowed.

"And from what I have been hearing they are all coming back next year."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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