9 February, 2023
Region takes on destination drinking trend
TWO “alco-tourism” ventures have been approved by Tablelands Regional Council as hotspots for wines, beers and spirits continue to pop up across the region.
Kelli Smith of Eventide Hills Distillery and Joe Barletta of Shaylee Strawberries both had their applications approved at a recent planning meeting and are in the process of getting their “destination drinking” spots underway.
Shaylee Strawberries began working on their strawberry wine late last year, hoping to give their patrons the sweet taste of strawberries all year round.
The idea sparked by Shaylee’s owner Joe Barletta was the starting point of months of perfecting the wine and he is now in the final stages of putting bottles on the shelf.
In the last six months, he has bought on a professional wine maker to help create the wine, applied for liquor license and built his own winery next to his Two Strawberry Café.
Bottles will be in production after the staff at Shaylee’s return from their break.
Ms Smith has been distilling her locally-made gins and vodkas from her garage since 2021 – a long-time dream her and her husband have had since they got married.
Over the past six months, she has worked alongside council to find the perfect location to host her business in a bid to be more visible to the public and decided that leasing the old The Peanut Place building near Tolga would be the perfect fit.
“The building owners are excited to have us there and have been amazing to work with and I think we will be staying there for a very long time,” Ms Smith said.
“You can’t get a location as public as this – it is super easy to get to, easy to see and stop at.”
Ms Smith is currently in the process of updating the business’s liquor licences and preparing the building, with hopes to open the venue for tastings in the middle of the year.
Stage one of the business will consist of tastings throughout the day at the building but Ms Smith hopes to make the venue “family friendly” by serving finger foods with drinks towards the end of the year.
“We have a few things in the pipeline,” she said.
“The Tablelands has something to offer to everyone and we are really excited to ex-pand our business.”
Cr Bernie Wilce said he was excited to see Eventide Hill Distillery expand and believes it will be a valuable asset for the Tablelands region.
“I am happy to see the new development there. It’s a great new edition to the area and I wish (Ms Smith) well,” he said.
Cr Dave Bilney echoed Cr Wilce’s comments, saying the business will be another reason for tourists to stop on the Tablelands.
“There are many benefits for the area through tourism and this adds to the offering of the Tablelands,” he said.
Eventide Hill Distillery will also be releasing a new gin in March this year to kick off their new venue, featuring local fruits and First Nation’s artwork on the label.