FOLLOWING a triumphant debut last year, the Hunter Valley Cheese & Chocolate Festival is returning to Hope Estate in 2019.
More than 6000 people attended the inaugural event and organisers are expecting a similar crowd on Saturday, July 6.
Hope Estate owner Michael Hope said there were many benefits to hosting the Hunter Valley Cheese & Chocolate Festival in the region.
"We already know that large concerts, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, bring in thousands of visitors for the weekend," he explained.
"What we are learning is that there is also an appetite for lifestyle events.
"People are travelling to the Hunter Valley for more reasons than just filling their car boot up with wine.
"In creating the cheese and chocolate experience within Wine Country, we are exposing the Hunter to a broader market.
"I am a big believer that we need to evolve to survive."
Lifestyle events enable many local businesses to showcase their products to not only Hunter residents but also those travelling from Sydney and regional NSW.
"Cheese & Chocolate 2018 was incredible," Hunter Belle Dairy Co's Jason Chesworth said.
"Never have we seen crowds in such large numbers that were all seeking gourmet artisan products.
"We sold out of cheese twice and, after two quick trips back to restock, we were left amazed by the level of expectation among consumers with our premium products our best sellers."
In 2019, attendees will find more vendors and lots of activities for the entire family to enjoy.
It'll also showcase the talents of many local and national cheese makers, bakers and chocolatiers, including Hunter Belle Dairy Co, Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, Binnorie Dairy and Donarch Fine Chocolate just to name a few.
"We had one of the biggest single day's trade from any event we have attended in 20 years," Hunter Valley Cookies' Sheryl Machain said.
"We were thrilled not only with the sales but with the people we served who were patient, pleasant and jovial."
As well as the sweet and savoury vendors, attendees will be able to watch demonstrations from guest chefs, chocolatiers and cheesemongers, while adults can experience a guided tasting of Hope Estate beer and wine and relax on the amphitheatre with entertainment.
The festival will run from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, July 6.
Early Bird Tickets are now available from www.hopeestate.com.au