The organisers of the 2013 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival deserve a big vote of thanks, both for running such a good community event and for causing so little public disruption in the process.
The police have already voiced their praise of an event well done. Only two people were arrested at the festival site at Brancott Estate, and 10 were picked up on behaviour charges after the event, which is a minimal number considering the 7000-strong crowd that attended.
The unfortunate news is that nine stallholders were caught selling alcohol to under-age teenagers in a police sting. Various reasons will be offered for this happening, but the message is clear: It is illegal to serve anyone under 18. Everyone serving alcohol needs to be briefed on that law and on how to stay on the right side of it.
That hiccup aside, all the feedback appears to be positive. Wineries report having excellent support, the crowd was happy with the service and the entertainment and the behaviour was - on the whole - satisfyingly good.
So well done, everyone.
The benefits of having a well-run festival are numerous. The payoff in sales for the stall operators is obvious. More important is the promotional value for individual wineries and the generic branding for the region as all those captive visitors collect in a concentrated venue to enjoy themselves.
For the community, it is a chance to celebrate and show off as the largest wine-producing region in the country.
The wines on offer show our vineyards and our winemakers can produce a great deal more than the sauvignon blanc that initially attracted international attention. Savvy still forms the backbone, but the strength of other styles is growing and winemakers continue to experiment with new styles. It is clear, just from the wines available on Saturday, that this is not a region standing still as suggested last month by some peevish Australians.
The Marlborough economy is not totally dependent on wine production, but the annual festival shows why the industry is one of the key contributors. The number of winery stalls alone demonstrates the spread of companies - and the people - involved.
As these companies watch their latest crop mature on the vines, we thank them for their efforts and wish them all well for the new vintage.
- The Marlborough Express