6 October 2023

Liquor licence approved for new regional wine tasting hub in Griffith

| Oliver Jacques
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Politicians behind a table with platters and wine

RWA’s Carrah Lymer and Calabria Wines’ Andrew Calabria (centre) flanked by then NSW government ministers Dugald Saunders and Paul Toole, when funding was announced for the new wine hub in 2022. Photo: Facebook.

The state’s alcohol regulator has approved a liquor licence for a new regional wine tasting hub to be set up in Griffith, which is poised to open before the end of 2023.

In April 2022, the former NSW Coalition government announced that a $450,000 grant would be provided to convert the town’s old ambulance station into a hub that would showcase the wine sold across the region in one central location.

For the past 18 months, the representative body Riverina Winemakers Association (RWA) has been driving the project to build what it has called Harvest HQ.

“Showcasing the range of wonderful Riverina producers we have in our region, Harvest HQ will represent the local wine region and its members, while also providing bookable tasting experiences, pop-up events, corporate packages and produce sales, all under the one roof on Banna Avenue,” RWA stated.

READ ALSO A $1.5 million McLaren and a $400,000 Mercedes truck among 21 vehicles listed in Griffith winery liquidation sale

A major milestone for the hub was passed on 26 September 2023, when the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) approved a liquor licence for the venue.

ILGA licensing coordinator Kieran McSherry noted the positive benefits of RWA’s venture in his decision.

“The licensee will host a variety of events relating to regional wine promotions, education which may on occasion be organised in tandem with local community groups,” he wrote.

“I am satisfied that the granting of the liquor licence, with the condition imposed, will ensure that the lawful operation of the premises will not be detrimental to the local or broader community.”

He also noted that no public submissions were received relating to any matters with the application.

Old ambulance station photo from 1959

The opening of the ambulance station in 1959. Photo: Riverina Winemakers Association.

The Riverina is the largest wine growing region in NSW, producing more than 108 million litres of the product annually. While it’s never attracted the levels of tourism that other viticulture areas such as the Hunter and Barossa Valley have, plans are afoot to change this.

Griffith wineries tend to be located out of town, making it difficult for visitors short on time to see them all. A new hub in the centre of town, located next to the tourist information centre, is expected to make local produce more accessible to visitors.

The location at the bottom block of Banna Avenue is also one of two sites mooted for a proposed new art gallery in town, with advocates saying having the three attractions together would improve the vibe of the main street.

The site for Harvest HQ, which is comprised of two brick homes adjoined by a large undercover garage, became Griffith’s third ambulance station when it was opened in 1959. It was vacated in 2019, when a new ambulance station opened on Wakaden Street.

“We are excited to breathe new life into this gorgeous old building. No changes will happen to the exterior other than ensuring it is more accessible to enter, with full modernisation commencing inside the building soon by [local] Forlico Builders,” RWA said.

Progress on Harvest HQ can be found on the Riverina Winemakers Association Facebook page.

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