Feb 10 2012

What’s the point of a picnic in a winery without the picnic?

I’m going to a Rod Stewart concert in a Hunter Valley winery tomorrow night. At least I hope I am, the weather is not looking good with severe weather warnings for the area.

This is something my girlfriends and I do often. Girlie weekends away for Day on the Green concerts. It often doesn’t even matter to us who’s playing – we just like getting away for a couple of days, wine tasting, shopping and having a picnic at a winery, under the stars with live music accompaniment.

I love doing picnics. It’s something I’ve always done and my mother did when we were kids. I spend a day shopping and cooking fresh food. I pack it nicely and if circumstances permit I take along china serving plates, and crystal glasses to drink from. At one concert in Centennial Vineyards Bowral (a lovely winery) we even won a prize for best picnic.

And we’ve seen some fabulous concerts – Leonard Coen at Bowral jumps to mind.

Only once has the act been so bad that the surroundings didn’t make up for it. I won’t say who it was, but we won’t go and see somebody nobody has ever heard of again no matter who they’re married to.

We even booked in to see Hall & Oates last week. It was the support band – Icehouse – that clinched that one. Well, that and the fact that tickets were half price.

Unfortunately (or not depending on what you think of Hall and Oates), the concert was cancelled. The amount of rain in Bowral meant the winery was practically under water. The promoters sent out emails to everybody the day before the concert informing them of the cancellation, and we got our money back. No worries.

Which brings me back to Rod Stewart.

Even though it’s in a winery in the Hunter, Rod Stewart is not a Day on the Green Concert.

This concert is being held at Hope Estate winery, and they want total control of everything. Because it’s a winery you’re not allowed to bring in your own alcohol – fair enough, they all have that rule and they need to get something back for promoting the acts.

But at Hope Estate you’re also not allowed to take in your own food, or even your own water. You’re only allowed to take an empty plastic bottle which you can fill up with free water once you get inside.

So that means no picnic in the winery.

And even though it has barely stopped raining for over a week, and there are thunderstorms predicted in the Hunter for tomorrow night, the concert hasn’t been cancelled.

Their policy is “play rain or shine” unless there are “weather conditions that are deemed dangerous for the artist to perform or patron’s safety is at risk”. So they haven’t cancelled the concert – not yet anyway, despite the warnings of thunderstorms in the area tomorrow night.

A check of the concert website shows that if the concert is cancelled on the day of the performance then there are no refunds of food and drink packages – that is ordering and paying for a picnic hamper or other meal and wine with your concert ticket. And I bet because of their no food policy there have been a few of these sold.

The over-the-top rules and officiousness of the people at Hope Estate  mean that we’ll never book another concert there again. No matter who it is. And even if Rod Stewart goes ahead we won’t buy any food or wine while we’re at the concert. We’re packing our picnic basket – with wine this time – and will have our picnic before and/or after the concert.

Nor will we buy Hope Estate wines – ever.

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