Previously named ‘Hot Dub Wine Machine’ and held at Serafino Wines, Wine Machine have rebranded and made Penny’s Hill their new, more spacious home this year.
VIP Lunch Experience ($150 + booking fee)
In order to arrive at the festival with a belly full of food to soak up all the alcohol I knew would be drinking, I decided to attend the VIP Lunch Experience beforehand. Penny’s Hill Wines have their own on-site fine dining restaurant named The Kitchen Door, which made it a convenient two minute’s walk to the festival itself. Seated on a long dining table next to a large open window with a picturesque view of the endless vines, we were served an exclusive menu consisting of a four course feast paired with matching wines.
For our appetisers, we were served crispy house-made sourdough bread on a rustic wooden platter as well as a sundried tomato-infused hummus with wholegrain crackers. This was followed by snacks to nibble on including Willunga spiced almonds and marinated olives. To pair with these light refreshments, on arrival you could choose from either a local beer or The Black Chook Sparkling Cuvée. I tried the latter, which was a light and delicate bubbly that showed hints of citrus fruits, green apple and melon.
Beginning out entrees was a uniquely presented dish consisting of grey hues and earthy tones. Little dollops of black sesame mayo surrounded crispy parcels of fried nori seaweed, providing a nice juxtaposition of textures. The sashimi of kingfish was silky smooth, with the mayo adding a subtle saltiness to the dish. Drizzled with a sesame and soy dressing, the small portion size was justified by the full-bodied flavour. This meal paired perfectly with the lemon, kaffir lime and green melon notes of the 2017 Penny’s Hill Agreement Sauvignon Blanc.
The chicken and liver parfait was next on the menu, served in a small rectangle along with a jam and wooden spatula for spreading. Being nervous to try liver, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flavour was not too harsh of an assault on the senses. Topped with a crack of salt and pepper, the parfait paired perfectly with the red onion jam which came dolloped on the side. The wooden spatula added an adorable rustic touch to the dish, creating a do-it-yourself parfait serving station of sorts.
Our last entree was an eggplant slice, which was the perfect vegetarian option. The eggplant was char-grilled to perfection, lightly scored with a diamond pattern on top to release the juicy flavour from within. Sitting on a bed of creamy sauce much like hummus, the dish was topped with a refreshing green salad and pickled onions. I paired this meal with the 2016 Penny’s Hill Minimalist Chardonnay, which revealed notes of white stone fruits, lemon curd, cashew and flint.
Moving on to the mains, we were provided a generous serving of the most mouth-watering potato gnocchi I’ve ever taste-tested! Soaked in a butter-based cafe de paris sauce, the gnocchi was given a herbal boost as it was mixed in with a hint of pesto, olives and beans. The parmigiano-reggiano brought the dish together, the warmth of the potato melting the cheese to make it stringy and creamy as you wrapped it around your fork. We had to ask for seconds (and even thirds!) of this dish as it was so addictive!
Last but certainly not least was the Black Angus Sirloin Steak, which proved to be the most meatiest and filling dish of them all. Semi-dried and fried tomatoes added a juicy tang as well as a pop of vibrant colour to the dish. Fried basil leaves and small cubes of blue cheese paired perfectly with the medium-rare meat, creating a creaminess as it melted in your mouth. The steak was cooked medium-rare to utter perfection, cutting with ease and soaking up the flavoursome sauce it was steeped in. The 2016 Penny’s Hill Cracking Black Shiraz complemented the dish exquisitely, the notes of milk chocolate, licorice and finely integrated oak also acting as our dessert for the afternoon!
VIP Ticket ($139 + booking fee)
Once our appetites were satisfied and our thirsts were quenched with plenty of vino, we were then personally escorted past the labyrinth of vines to an express entrance into Wine Machine!
Our VIP area was called ‘The Goonies’ (love the wine-themed pun!), and consisted of a large private bar offering drinks ranging from all your classic reds, whites and sparklings, to crowd favourite Pimms and even Frosé (just imagine an alcoholic version of a frozen raspberry fanta from Maccas!).
A large undercover canopy decorated with bunting, flags and fairylights revealed a deck filled with bohemian rugs, cushions, pallet tables and chairs where we could kick back, relax and share a drink (or far too many!).
A few outdoor bench sets were set up amongst the lush, green lawns, which made for the perfect backdrop to some killer photoshoots as the golden hour came upon us.
We also had our own private food bar as well as our own toilets, which meant we never had to wait long in line at all!
A massive thank-you goes to the lovely Hayley from PR Galleria for being so hospitable throughout the entire afternoon and generously providing us with two free drinks cards each. Thank-you so much for bringing the most lovely and inspiring group of creative souls together to connect and form friendships that will last for many years yet to come.
The only downfall to the festival was that unfortunately the weather gods were not on our side at all and certainly tried their very best to rain on our parade. Starting the festival off with a bang, a storm rolled through and put on a show of thunder, lighting, gale-force winds and near-torrential rains.
After huddling close together under the middle of our canopy to stay dry, fortunately the weather eventually cleared enough for the show to go on!
Although acts such as San Cisco and Confidence Man had to be cancelled due to rescheduling, several DJs, Fisher and of course Hot Dub Time Machine pulled through and delivered plenty of beats combined with fireworks, streamers, smoke and fire displays on stage to raise everyone’s spirits!
Hot Dub Time Machine were absolute legends and performed for two and a half hours, delivering all their classic remixes, throwbacks and bangers to keep everyone entertained all night long.
One last thank-you goes out to the amazing creatives that I had the opportunity to connect with on the day – especially Amy, Nick, Noma and Nobuhle. I was instantly in awe of your creativity, drive and ambition, and I wish you all the best in your creative endeavors! Here’s to attending more festivals together in the future!
Wine Machine – although you were more like ‘Wind Machine’, you were still an absolute blast, and I cannot wait to see what next year has in store!
Catch you at another cafe,