To lunch or not to lunch at Lovedale

The Lovedale Long Lunch. A marketer’s dream. A leisurely stroll (well … bus trip) from one winery to another, having gourmet meals matched with fabulous wines.

At least that’s the theory.

We arrived here yesterday. Some of us from Sydney, some from Canberra. Those of us from Sydney arrived first. We checked into our accommodation (a beautiful 3 bedroom cattage at Wirral Grange), where we sat on the verandah in the sun, enjoying the view out over the vineyards, and waited for our other friends.

A quick phone call to check their whereabouts and arrival time “We had trouble getting through Sydney. No, no, we didn’t get lost. No, no, google maps said …” Enough said! Whoever designed the program to plot routes on google maps certainly wasn’t a navigator.

So we made an executive decision to wander along to the first winery and meet them there when they arrived.

As we are staying Sunday night as well, that is our major Long Lunching day. The plan was to have a late lunch at one winery on Saturday, and tackle 2-3 on Sunday. That way we’d get the most out of our weekend.

I’m a planner. It’s my job – people pay me good money to do it for them. I’ve also read John Steinbeck. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when we turned up at the winery only to be told we couldn’t come in. At first I thought it was because there were already too many people inside. But no. “There’s no entry after 1pm” we were told.

Immediately following that piece of advice a group of half a dozen young women walked straight through.

“So how come they just went in?” we asked. Quite reasonably I thought.

“They already have wrist bands”. was the reply “You have to buy your wrist band before 1pm and then you can go into any winery you want at any time. But we can’t sell you a wrist band after 1pm.”

“Aah, I didn’t see this rule on the website.” I said

“No, it’s part of the new licensing conditions for this year. We only found out about it on Tuesday. We disagree with the conditions but there’s nothing we can do about them. Please complain to the Licensing Board, not us.”

All fair enough – don’t blame the messenger. Except there was no message. There’s a section on the Lovedale Long Lunch website with “changes for 2012”, but it doesn’t mention the 1pm rule.

I know that doing what I do for work I’m probably a bit more savvy about the uses of “modern technology” than many people my age (37 … ish). But all my friends have facebook accounts even if they don’t tweet.  My mother even knows how to facebook and she’s 80 (though don’t tell her I said so). We also know how to use websites, and we checked the Lovedale Long Lunch website before we came, to find out about things like shuttle buses, menus at wineries, etc. If they’d put something up there about “You must buy your wrist band before 1pm” we’d have noticed.

But they didn’t.

Nor did they tweet or put it on facebook. So why are so many companies still so poor when it comes to social media? Is it that they still think it’s only for “fun”, something that their staff “waste their time on”?

So we did what you do in those circumstances. We adapted and went for a long lunch elsewhere in Lovedale. The Leaves and Fishes restaurant further up Lovedale Road. And it was beautiful. A fabulous setting, great food and excellent staff.

Then we came back to our cottage, lit the fire and sat around talking, watching the view, and drinking very good wines. Not a bad outcome for a stuff up!


Permanent link to this article: