A popular wine-growing region known for its fantastic varieties of red, particularly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Grampians region west of Melbourne comes alive for the 18th annual Grampians Grape Escape Wine and Food Festival on May 1 and 2, 2010, on the Halls Gap Village Oval. By Alex Hargraves

Nestled in the heart of the Fyans Valley, the two-day program serves up a feast of fine food and wine with displays, demonstrations, children’s entertainment and much more.

This year the centrepiece of the festival will be one of Australian television’s most prominent chefs, Manu Feildel.

The Sydney-based Manu will host the festival’s popular Celebrity Chef sessions, enabling food lovers to learn from the master in intimate settings. Twice daily he will be teaching you how to cook up a storm using the finest local and regional produce.

He will also host two special events, the first being ‘Moulin Rouge’; a French inspired festival dinner on Saturday night, which promises an evening of decadent food, luscious wines and some very special entertainment (7pm, $120 per person). The second is an intimate festival breakfast experience for 50 lucky people on Sunday morning (9.30am, $80 per person).

The Sydney-based Manu will host the festival’s popular Celebrity Chef sessions, enabling food lovers to learn from the master in intimate settings. Twice daily he will be teaching you how to cook up a storm using the finest local and regional produce.

The Celebrity TV chef is co-host of Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules, and a regular guest on Ready, Steady, Cook, but it is his talents as one of the country’s great chefs for which he is best known in food circles.

In 2004, Manu was approached to spearhead a new restaurant, Bilsons, at Sydney’s Radisson Hotel. In its second year, the restaurant won two Chefs’ Hats, taking it to three the following year.

In March 2009, he took over his first restaurant, L’Etoile, in Paddington, Sydney, where his passion for modern French bistro food was rewarded in August with his first Chefs’ Hat.

As well as the appearance of Manu, Grampians food and wine producers will be conducting special master classes every hour over the weekend, and with over 80 vendors showing off the region’s best food and wine, it is sure to be a fantastic event.

Local acts Rickety Bridge and Ducks in the Mud will provide a mix of live world music, and kids entertainment will be provided by Tubby the Robot and family favourite Thomas the Tank Engine. A shuttle bus will run throughout the festival.

What //  18th Annual Grampians Grape Escape Wine and Food Festival.
Where //  Halls Gap, Three hours drive west of Melbourne.
When //  May 1 and 2, 11am-4.30pm
Cost //  General Entry $5, Wine Lover’s Package $30.
Contact //  www.grampiansgrapeescape.com.au