A new 3 week festival is coming to East Gippsland this winter

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One takeaway from 2020 we’re glad to embrace is the backyard getaway. Amidst the uncertainty of international (and at times interstate) travel, there’s never been a better time to explore your own state. From charming small towns, a vibrant arts scene, local produce the envy of many, spectacular coastlines, excellent eateries and much more, there’s one place that has this all wrapped up – East Gippsland.

East Gippsland Winter Festival (June 18 to July 11) is a celebration of all things art, music, wine, craft beer and local produce. Spread over three weeks there will be a raft of activities including interactive art installations, pop-up events, live music, workshops, exclusive dinners and lavish feasts showcasing the best the region has to offer.

With bushfires, drought and Covid challenging many a local business, festival founder Adam Bloem was looking for a way to attract more people to the region. ’I wanted something that encouraged people to stay a bit longer and travel around and explore all of the little towns and villages.’

We now have over 70 events on our festival program and the majority of these have been devised and organised by local businesses, community groups and passionate locals. The response has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to welcome thousands of visitors to East Gippsland over winter where there will be lots of things to see, do, eat and drink right across the region.

From Mallacoota to Paynesville, north to Omeo and everywhere in between, friendly locals can’t wait to share their special corner of the world with you. Kick it off on Friday, June 18 with the official festival opening in Bairnsdale with live music and roving performers, as well as a bevy of food/wine options and art projections throughout the town.

Pencil in the Pinot Picnic and Masterclass on Sunday, June 20 thanks to the acclaimed Sardine Eatery + Bar and Lightfoot & Sons Winery. This not-to-be-missed event salutes Gippsland Lakes District’s exceptional pinot noir at Lightfoot and Son’s cellar door. The winemaker-guided Masterclass will take place in their barrel room with guests enjoying a Sardine Eatery picnic box filled with cheese, charcuterie and conserves.

This year’s winter solstice on Monday, June 21 just happens to coincide with World Bathing Day. Join bathers from across the globe at sunrise for a live-streamed Global Sound Bath. From the new pop-up bathing area on the future Metung Hot Springs site, drink in the beauty of the natural surrounds for a calm and balanced start to your day.


The Lakes Light Festival on Saturday, June 26 promises to be a festival highlight. Watch a mural painting as it unfolds in both a virtual sense and in reality at the former iceworks factory, and now arts hub, in Lakes Entrance.

Is it time to unleash your inner artist? Then don’t miss the lantern making workshop on Tuesday, June 29 in Swifts Creek. This idyllic town in the Tambo Valley is quickly developing a strong reputation for its arts scene and part in the Great Alpine Arts Trail. Experienced local artists will guide you through the process and shine a light on your creative side. Great fun for all ages!

One of the festival standouts has to be the Sailors Grave Deep Winter Festival on Saturday, July 3. Sailors Grave is a darling of the craft beer scene for good reason. Their complex beers (and idiosyncratic branding) tell the story of their unique region, their terroir. None more so than their recent release Dark Emu Dark Lager, a collaboration with Uncle Bruce Pascoe honouring indigenous culture and knowledge.

The Deep Winter event kicks off at 6 pm at the home of Sailors Grave brewery, a 100-year-old butter factory on the banks of the Snowy River. Music will be provided by post-punk Oz rock band Shepparton Airplane and other special guests, with food by Melbourne butchers Meatsmith. Co-founders Gab and Chris Moore can’t wait to welcome you.

By now you’re thinking it might be a great idea to plan a little exercise and thankfully the area has some of the most scenic trails in the state. Little River Gorge Walk will certainly get the blood pumping but also rewards that effort with a stunning view over one of Victoria’s deepest gorges and the mis-named Little River. Of course, a leisurely stroll around one of the area’s many lakes might be more your pace. Check out some of the options here.

So many activities – both day and night – means you’re going to need somewhere to stay. With accommodation options from traditional B&Bs, luxe glamping or maybe a waterside retreat complete with mooring for your boat, there’s no excuse not to head east this winter.


WHAT: East Gippsland Winter Festival
WHERE: Various locations around East Gippsland
WHEN: Saturday 19th June – Sunday 11th July 2021
MORE INFO:  Register for program updates at the East Gippsland Winter Festival website.

The Milk Bar

The former Milk Bar on the corner of Fryers St and Corio St in Shepparton has had a few guises over the years, and it has to be said none feels quite so comfortable as its current incarnation as The Milk Bar cafe and restaurant. Owned and run by Chloe Innes-Irons and supported ably by her always energetic father Mat, the place is lively, bustling, and welcoming. If you recognise Mat Innes-Irons, it might be from his time owning the Australia Hotel, or Friar’s Cafe. The experience shows at The Milk Bar.

Chef Bronson is genuinely passionate about his food, and his love for south-east Asian flavours really makes some of his dishes sing. The hot tip is to keep an eye on the specials, because Bronson always has something on the go!

The Milk Bar opened post-lockdown and became an almost instant community favourite. No doubt the quality of the food made from as much local produce as possible and locally sourced drinks list has a large part to do with that, but as Dennis Denuto says, “It’s the vibe” too. There’s no one thing that makes a great venue great. The Milk Bar has the enthusiastic owners and staff, the passionate chef, the attention to detail in a local cafe/restaurant that makes the experience complete.

Not the kind of family to sit still, the Innes-Irons have always got events planned for  The Milk Bar; specials, new ideas, music. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for all of those opportunities to be part of a fun and interesting experience – there’s bound to be something on when you’re visiting over a weekend. Look out for things like musicians in the back yard, Vietnamese themed dinners, Mother’s Day stalls, and Friday Tapas Knock-offs.

Exploring the Bellarine Peninsula with the Bellarine Belle

Itinerary: Connie Trathen
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The Bellarine Peninsula – with its panoramic ocean views, white sandy beaches, locally-sourced food and wine, and salt-soaked surroundings. Little wonder the region is a lodestone for those who seek relaxation and rejuvenation.

Connie Trathen made the move to the Bellarine over 10 years ago. Currently residing in Point Lonsdale, the travel guru lived in Portarlington for 11 years and works as the marketing and business development coordinator at Grand Hotel Portarlington – which is set to receive a multi-million dollar renovation.

Easily accessible from all sides, Connie says the Bellarine is a mystery to be unearthed. “It’s still a bit of a secret and people like to say that they’ve discovered a new place!” she says.

Here are some insider tips on how to make the most of your Bellarine discovery.

For breakfast

Annie's ProvidoreSince opening its doors in 2004, Annie’s Provedore & Produce has made a name for itself for its gourmet food and incredible customer service. A local favourite and foodie hotspot, the store serves up a stellar brekky, lunch and dinner menu along with a range of pantry staples. “I don’t mind a wander down the main street for a good retail window shop and it’s always tempting to stop in Annie’s for a treat,” Connie says.

For a family day out

Tuckerberry Hill

While Connie doesn’t have kids of her own, she says she can easily keep her nieces and nephews occupied when they visit, particularly in Portarlington. “Our time is often full of swimming at Portarlington Beach, a safe and calm north facing bay beach, as well as berry picking at Tuckerberry Hill, ice-cream shops including Pier View Lolly Shop in Portarlington which sells ice cream as well, the Miniature Railway and the great new park in Portarlington!”


For baked goodness

Ket Baker Bellarine

A favourite amongst locals and visitors alike, the Ketbaker Shed Bakery is renowned as home to the finest sourdough pastries in Geelong and the Bellarine. Think croissants of all sorts, pain au chocolats and escargots, and the most heartwarming sourdough loaves. “Stop in for artisan small batch sourdough breads and treats,” Connie says. “It’s worth the short detour.”

For lunch

Paddock Cafe Bellarine

Relaxed and friendly, The Paddock Café is an ambient and insta-worthy destination where good flavours and good vibes merge to enhance the dining experience. “I always choose to drive down Wallington Road if I can, and my hot tip is to stop at The Paddock Café for a chicken congee with kimchi,” Connie explains.

For the best fish and chips in the region, Connie says you can’t go past the Barwon Heads Fish and Chip Shop. “It’s a classic. Old school, and I have fond memories going there in my teenage years when I used to come to Ocean Grove. I went there recently and they had some beautiful battered prawns, sweet potato cakes and huge homemade dim sims. And yes, delicious chips!”

For cider

Flying brick cider bellarine

At the end of Wallington Road, Connie recommends you veer right and hit up the local cidery Flying Brick Cider House. “This is a venue that caters for all with beautiful food and brews and ambling grassed areas if you have kids who want to let off some steam,” she says.

For fab dining

Merne at Lighthouse

Connie recommends Merne at Lighthouse for its “views across to Queenscliff, great food, amazing craft beer list, and great banter with hospitality professional Caleb Fleet”.  Situated in the middle of the Peninsula, the idyllic restaurant is nestled amidst a thriving olive grove and emerging vineyards, boasting panoramic views of the surrounding farms, dairies, orchards and growers. Explains the inspired paddock-to-plate dining experience.

For a well-deserved tipple

McGlashan's Winery

For award-winning wines in the heart of the Bellarine Peninsula, head down Swan Road (often bypassed) and stop at McGlashan’s Winery. “Their rosé is delicious and for those looking for somewhere to stay in the region, their new Eco Villas overlooking the vines are pretty special,” Connie says.

Connie also notes the Curlewis Winery as another favourite spot to peruse. Located off the beaten track and managed by a husband-and-wife team, the cool-climate winery boasts “great wines, vinyl, and good food”. “It might be a discreet and understated cellar door, but the wines sit proudly at many fine dining restaurants around Australia,” Connie says.

For panoramic views

Dell Lookout Bellarine

Driving back from Curlewis Winery, Connie and her husband love to stop in at Clifton Springs for world-class views at the Dell lookout looking across to the You Yangs, Avalon Airport, Mount Macedon and even spying Melbourne city.

Living only minutes away from wineries, eateries and natural wonders, Connie says the Bellarine is the perfect merging of country and sea. “It fits our lifestyle of having water and fishing and is full of great food and wine,” she proclaims. “Being close to the ocean provides this bounty, but the region also provides the perfect climate for the wineries and what they grow.”

For more ways to explore the ever surprising The Bellarine, head to the official website for the region:  www.visitgeelongbellarine.com.au

And follow Connie on all her Bellarine adventures via Instagram


The Brewers Table

For the coffee snob, passing through country centres suffering lack of caffeination used to be the subject of dread and the topic of longing conversations. OHO has seen those days pass by, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of good coffee houses all through regional Victoria like the one we’ve found in Seymour, The Brewers Table.

There are signs, both literal and figurative, that the coffee will be good here. For the former, the chalk lists your coffee options, blends or single origins, made to your liking. To the latter, the presence of Mansfield Coffee Merchants coffee packaging attests to the excellence of the product. The names of locals and travelling regulars adorn the back wall as testament to loyalty from both sides.

Like most businesses who survived the lockdowns, and given the opportunity to reevaluate priorities, The Brewers Table have returned to their core strengths: Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee, local produce; Support the locals who supported them; Cook great food from local ingredients; Be excellent to everyone. 

The crowd is diverse – some travellers in the window, excited by recognising Mansfield Coffee Merchant on the pour, a crew of workers meeting over a table laid out with big breakfasts, two local wine makers discussing the upcoming vintage over espresso. Eggs bene’s are flying out to the late breakfast crowd, and beef salads to the early lunch crowd. The staff know people, calling out names, asking after family.

“Hi Stuart, hi Judy. How’s your mum Tiffany? Thanks Chelsea!”

It’s all personal, local – even if you’re passing through. Oh, and if it’s a nice day, do sit out back in the garden. It’s a slice of heaven.

A sweet retreat good enough to eat

Images Supplied

A new retreat that looks good enough to eat has recently opened up its doors in Daylesford – further enriching the town’s accommodation offering, but with a twist.

Owned by the husband-and-wife duo behind the acclaimed Sugar Republic events, Sweet Retreat officially launched last month. The newly-renovated cottage is decked out in the colours, feels and drool-worthy props that Sugar Republic is known for, making for a one-of-a-kind holiday.

Owner Allison Jones says she wanted to create a space that took people away from their every day, making an escape to the country extra special.

Each room in the space has its own theme – there’s a light-filled Lucky Rainbow room, a cosy Tea & Biscuits room and a neon-glam Sweet Love room.

Of course, Sweet Retreat wouldn’t be complete with those elements of nostalgia that are typical of Sugar Republic’s installations and much of the decor is inspired by iconic Australian snacks. The dining area is characterised by its Milk Bar art and giant Paddle Pop sculpture, one of the rooms has its own ball pit, and the cherry-scented hallway wallpaper really is, well, the cherry on top.

“The styling is basically inspired by Sugar Republic.  It was a really interesting challenge to take the concept we have created for an event into a residential space, and it allowed me to enact some ideas I’ve had for a while, like scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, which wouldn’t work in a venue that has hundreds of visitors every day,” Allison says.

“We did all of the decorating ourselves – our team has some crazy skills – and most of the art comes from our events.

“The overall feeling is of being a child again, letting go of your worries and allowing time to pass slowly.”

Sweet Retreat is now open for bookings. Visit their Instagram Page or AirBnB listing to book your getaway pronto, and get set for a deliciously unique experience.


WHAT: Sweet Retreat
WHERE: Daylesford
FIND OUT MORE: airbnb.com/h/sweetretreatdaylesford


Say ‘Hay’ to Fowles Wine’s new dining room

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Fowles Wine is changing the game with a new outdoor dining space just in time for summer.

The winery, located in Avenel just 90minutes from Melbourne, has embraced the push for outdoor dining with plenty of creativity. With the help of some creative friends and some hay bales, the team quickly built some outdoor hay bale ‘dining rooms’.

The hay bale dining rooms, set on the winery’s sprawling lawns, are in addition to existing outdoor spaces including the picturesque 50m long Feasting Arbour, covered with flowering wisteria vines. Each bay of the arbour has a picnic table with umbrellas for the ideal alfresco lunch, before moving to the lawns for a post-lunch laydown.

The Terrace offers more al fresco dining options amongst the herb garden that provides flavour and freshness for kitchen.

Outdoor lovers have plenty to love at Fowles Wine with an expansive native garden, designed by Philip Johnson. Wander through the banksias, flowering gums and bottle trees, or take the kids to the sheep paddock to feed the hand-reared lambs.

“I wanted to create a haven for diners to safely escape and reconnect,” Matt Fowles said. “It was important for me to make it easy for people to enjoy nature while indulging in beautiful food and wine.”

The outdoor menu has been designed for a casual fine dining experience with fare from the open-air kitchen. Use the contact-less ordering system on your mobile to order a serve of brochettes, skewers that combine local ingredients in new ways. The culinary team source ingredients from their own and nearby farms, weaving the seasonal, local produce into ideal pairings to enjoy with a glass or two of Fowles Wine. The indoor kitchen and dining room follow a similar philosophy that favours local produce and a nose-to-tail ethos.

If you’re heading to the Strathbogie Ranges this summer, don’t forget to say ‘hay’ at Fowles Wines.

WHAT: Fowles Wines
WHERE: Corner Hume Fwy and Lambing Gully Rd, Avenel VIC 3664
MORE INFO: Fowles Wines

Bouncing back: four chefs reflect on the lockdown and their journey towards reopening

Words by Richard Cornish 
Images Supplied

With the ‘Ring of Steel’ dismantled, the 25km rule dropped, and our favourite destinations open for business we’re ready to head for the hills, beach, or valleys to celebrate our newfound freedom. There is a palpable energy in the air both in the city with people looking forward to a road trip, and in the regions, with kitchen crews preparing to welcome back long separated city guests. 

We spoke to some of our top chef/owners in regions around the state about their COVID19 lockdown, what they did to survive, and what they plan to serve up to us when we arrive to dine with them. 

Tedesca Osteria

Mornington Peninsula #onehourout

Tedesca Osteria RestaurantBrigitte Hafner baked us our daily tarts and made us our daily vitello tonnato when she and Jamie Broadway ran Gertrude Street Enoteca in Fitzroy. It closed forever over winter, preceded, thankfully, by the opening of the bucolic dream that is Tedesca Osteria. Perched on the spine of Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula, overlooking flowing creeks, stringybark forest and vineyards beyond, Tedesca Osteria is reminiscent of those classic European Michelin star restaurants with set menu dining.

When we spoke, Brigitte had just finished her second service since reopening after lockdown. “We were a bit anxious,” says Brigitte. ‘But what happened during lockdown was that we became a team. We only opened in March and did not have time, really to prepare,” she says.

With lockdown, she and her team, including Broadway, went to work preparing food boxes each week to keep Tedesca afloat. They contained comfort food, including bread and baked goods,  her German mother’s strudel and Eccles cakes with cheddar cheese. “We were able to keep most of our team, including our visa holders, together except one, who got a job as a nurse,” says Brigitte cheerily. “We all worked chopping wood, gardening, preparing the food. Skills that we learned and shared. I now have a great orchard planted with amazing citrus and nut trees.” Being in a beautiful part of the world made it easier for Brigitte and her crew, with daily walks along deserted country lanes and long strolls along the beaches of Westernport. “We were also able to have a smokehouse built in which we will smoke our smallgoods when we start getting our whole pigs in from a local farmer.”

This week she has been serving dolmades made with her own preserved vine leaves, mud crab with fresh pasta, tarragon, and garden peas. There is also Great Ocean Road Duck with chickpeas, spinach, and west Indian limes and a Paris-brest to finish. “We learned so much over lockdown about being a team,” says Brigitte. “Now it’s time to put those skills to work.”

Check out Tedeaca here.


Birregurra #twohoursout

Dan Hunter Brae Restaurant“We are here, and we are open,” says Dan Hunter of Brae at Birregurra. The internationally acclaimed chef has worked around the world and has watched as the pandemic raged through the places in Europe where he worked in his earlier years. “The international imagery of hospitals in Italy and Spain was devastating,” says Dan. “There are worse places being in lockdown than here,” he says of the masterfully converted farm cottage perched on a farmlet, surrounded by acres of orchard and kitchen garden.

“In early April, I looked around and saw a vegetable garden full of late summer produce, and it gave us a feeling of safety. We were comforted being out of the city on a rural property surrounded by produce that could feed the family,” says Dan. “We have the skills to grow the vegetables to feed us.” Dan and his team harvested fruit and vegetables from the kitchen garden and sold them to the local community. This connection with the local people continued with a series of international-themed dinners that took residents to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and beyond. “We also made picnic boxes with our bread and terrines so people could take themselves away,” says Dan. Dan and his family were able to escape to the seaside area of Skenes Creek near Apollo Bay. “Spending time with the family was so important,” says Dan.

After good spring rains, the dams are full, and the surrounding countryside is verdant with lush pasture that Dan describes as ‘money paddocks’ for the local graziers; Dan looks to his gardens for inspiration for his late spring menu: asparagus, peas, broad beans, lettuce and radicchio to cook dishes like “rainbow trout and broad beans from this season and last, anise myrtle, roe and citrus, radicchio brushed with treacle and black garlic.” With customers back, Dan and his wife Julianne wrestle customer expectations and government COVID capacity rules. “You know what gave me great joy this spring?” asks Dan rhetorically. “The black swans who came to stay on the dam and the evening chorus of frogs. Simple things.” 

Head here to take a look at Brae.


Beechworth #threehoursout 

Michael Ryan Provence Restaurant Beechworth“From here in Beechworth, I knew just how devastating the lockdown was for the industry,” says Michael Ryan. He speaks from Provenance, based in a solid-granite, former bank in the heart of historic Beechworth, where Michael cooks his unique Japanese influenced style of cuisine.

“When it first started, it was the unknown. And that is terrifying,” he says. Michael and his team suffered the triple whammy, first the fires over summer, then lockdown one, a brief awakening, then lockdown two. “In the first lockdown I tapped the bounty of the season and made sugo, chestnut jam and lime marmalade and some amazing grenadine,” says Michael. “I pulped 60kg of pomegranates for that grenadine. Not something I need to do again in a hurry.” It was a mild winter in the North East, and Michael spent hours on his pushbike, walking the dog around Lake Samball and time with his wife and daughter. “The biggest decision I had to make every day was what to make for dinner,” he says with a laugh.

Michael also received funding to explore making sake and delved into the arcane art of making amaro, the bitter Italian style digestive. He has extracted over 90 different botanicals. He will soon get his licence so he can buy alcohol and make, he hopes, three different styles of amaro early next year. “But now it is so green, so lush,” says Michael. “The days are long and warm and the nights cool. His garden is amok with shiso, the fragrant Japanese herb almost becoming a weed. He salts it down for six months, ready for the autumn menu.” He is currently serving a set menu of a four-course meal made of 18 small dishes. He is particularly proud of his lup cheong pork sausages he made in the first lockdown and potato chips cooked in beef tallow dusted with a little seaweed salt. He also takes great pride in a dish of cauliflower slow-cooked in lots of butter served with white fish floss and coloured pink with beetroot juice and served with cherry tomatoes marinated in sweet dashi. Off the grill comes flat iron steak, served with miso butter and braised onions. “Delightful with a local Beechworth Gamay,” he adds.

Now he is looking forward to the berry and cherry season. “Cherries for the extracts for the amaro,” says Michael. “And with the raspberries, I will make some old school sable, some yuzu cream, and finish it with some fresh lychees.” He pauses. And says, “You know what, that lockdown will be the long service leave I was never going to get.” 

Check here to find out more about Provenance.

Stefano’s Cantina

Mildura #fourhoursout 

Stefano de Pieri Stefano's Cantina Restaurant Mildura“Mildura went quiet,” says Stefano de Pieri from Stefano’s Cantina at the Grand Hotel, Mildura. “The city went eerily quiet during lockdown. But we were ringed by a hive of activity because the farming never stopped. COVID or no COVID, Australian agriculture never stops. The trucks kept on taking food down to Melbourne,” he says with his usual energy.

Stefano spent a lot of his lockdown walking along the locks of the Murray River. “It is so beautiful, so tranquil, there are so many birds. It all helps me to contemplate where I am in my life. I realised I will be 80 in 15 years! I can not think of that many chefs still behind the stove at my age,” he says. “So I raged against the ‘dimming of the light’ by renovating the dining rooms,” says Stefano with a laugh. He also successfully campaigned to become a Mildura City councilor, hosted the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, made 22 Youtube episodes of a children’s cooking show, and shot a ten-part food television series with SBS. “So, as you can see, I have not been idle,” says Stefano.

He has also been working on his menu, freshening it up, putting on more seafood and vegetable dishes. “What I cook reflects what is grown here as much as possible. So this has been the season for asparagus and artichokes. We have been making our own ricotta, which I use with bullhorn peppers stuffed with smoked eggplant.” Stefano has also got his hands on some locally made ‘nduja, which he is serving with baby calamari. “It is 35°C outside each day,” says Stefano. “We need to serve food that reflects the climate, not just the season.” 

Visit Stefano’s here.

Yarra Valley Garden Party

Words by Amanda Kennedy Images supplied 

As we get closer and closer to being able to travel again, businesses of the Yarra Valley have been working away, getting the valley ready to welcome you back for a visit and we’re almost there. Until then you are officially invited to the Yarra Valley Garden Party virtual event October 2-4.  All you need to do is order the Garden Party Pack and create a spring garden party in your own home with family/friends/bubble buddy. 

So what’s in the pack?

Six of the region’s best wines, recipe cards to inspire your party, a Spotify soundtrack to reflect the valley in Spring, Diggers Club sweet pea seeds, iso-craft garland supplies and a list of spots throughout the region to pimp your Instagram (tulips bulbs to come in January.) With only a couple of clicks, support regional businesses and get it delivered to your door thanks to The Regional Pantry.

Whether it’s a succulent’s workshop, a guided wine tasting or a Four Pillars gin cocktail class, the Yarra Valley Garden Party has got you covered. With the entire event to be live-streamed online via visityarravalley.com.au as well as through the Facebook page, the Yarra Valley never been so accessible.

Saturday morning with yoga at Alowyn Gardens

Start your weekend off on the right note with a live-streamed yoga class from the picturesque Alowyn Gardens located in Yarra Glen. Restore balance and harmony to your day with an uplifting class designed for all age and fitness levels. Whether it’s the Parterre or the Edible garden that catches your eye, ‘downward dog’ will have you planning your next visit.

Sourdough skills – more than just an iso-hobby

Next up, it’s time to put on the Spotify soundtrack and get ready to flex your kneading skills. You’ve seen others get their sourdough game on during recent stay-at-home times; we’ve got all the tips and tricks for you to step up yours. This timeless bread-making technique fits in seamlessly to a modern lifestyle, especially if working from home. Wherever you are on your sourdough journey, there’s something in this session for you.

Dylan McMahon and Phillip Johnson at Seville Estate

4pm is officially wine o’clock so join Seville Estate winemaker, Dylan McMahon, and landscape designer, Phillip Johnson, as they wander the gardens of Seville Estate while talking all things wine and garden. Dylan’s dedication to low-intervention wine-making is reflected in the same approach to the estate’s garden program. In the months to come, the friendly winery staff will shift from pruning the vines to serving guests at their cellar door, restaurant and accommodation.

For now, all you need to do is grab the glasses and pour a glass of their barrel-fermented 2017 Estate Riesling, which Dylan describes as a textural wine, well-balanced by acidity and notes of lime. It ticks a lot of boxes for ardent Riesling fans while also being a great entry point for those just discovering the varietal.

Pencil this one into your calendar.

Wake up and discover flavour with Silva Coffee

Okay, it’s Sunday morning and by now you need a coffee. Local roasters, Silva Coffee, will help demystify your morning brew with their Coffee Tasting class. Experience four coffees from different regions, each with their unique flavours and aromas. Cleo and Wayne began roasting coffee from their Wesburn home in 2010. Graduating from farmers markets to now supplying a raft of venues and homes across Victoria, they’ve not wavered from their dedication to community and sustainability. Byo boiling water.

Yarra Valley Pasta’s Lisa Giffard with cook and author Julia Busuttil Nishimura 

Join Lisa and Julia in casual conversation as they discuss subjects dear to all our hearts – food, family and cooking. These two accomplished home cooks will draw on their robust family heritage to weave together stories and tips for simple, seasonal dishes.

With unfussy recipes from quick pastas to generous baked treats, it’s easy to see why Julia’s popular cookbooks have inspired so many. You’ll soon be drafting the menu for those long, leisurely lunches with family and friends we all miss.

Bringing together two of the valley’s foremost producers, Buxton Trout Farm and Yarra Valley Dairy, Lisa will prepare Yarra Valley Pasta’s smoked trout and goats cheese ravioli. Looks like it might be time to crack the Mac Forbes EB52 Rose.

This relaxing Sunday afternoon session is the ideal antidote for those dreaming of a plane ticket to Italy.

Not quite tiptoeing through the tulips

You’ve just finished the live guided tasting with Jess Nguyen, so settle back and enjoy the sounds of the Yarra Valley Opera Festival set to the visual spectacular of Tesselaar Tulips’ fabulous fields of blooms. And lucky you, your party pack bulbs will arrive in January. 

Flick through the tempting recipe cards created by Caroline Gray or be inspired by the winemakers’ favourite dishes, both perfect Sunday evening activities. Whatever you choose, sit back and toast your wise decision to celebrate Spring in the valley without ever leaving your armchair.


WHAT: Yarra Valley Garden Party
WHERE: At home
WHEN: October 2-4
MORE INFO: Yarra Valley Garden Party

OHO in ISO: Mauro Callegari from The Independent, Gembrook

Images supplied

At The Independent Gembrook, Mauro has designed a modern Argentinian menu. He honed his skills working world-wide in kitchens in Melbourne, London and Buenos Aires and was part of the opening team of Conran’s Almeida Restaurant in London. Closer to home he’s worked in the kitchens of some of Melbourne’s most respected chefs including Marcus Moore at Sofitel and Raymond Capaldi at Fenix.

What is happening with the restaurant at this stage?

At this stage, the restaurant is selling ‘Ready to Heat at Home Meals’. We are delivering to local suburbs, Thursday to Sunday, and to some surrounding suburbs on alternating days. People can also arrange to collect from the restaurant Thursday to Sunday 11am-4pm. We are currently working on launching ‘Ready to Eat Meals’ on the weekend, where customers can pick up our dishes hot or receive them by delivery if they are local. 

How are your staff going?

Our staff are all well. Whilst remaining positive and in good spirits, we are all concerned about the current situation and what the future will look like. 

There are twelve staff involved in the restaurant operation at the moment. Together we are prepping, packing and delivering meals as far as Beaconsfield and Belgrave and most suburbs in between. 

I am keeping in contact with staff through our Facebook staff group page. I also check in with them by phoning them, sending text messages and having meetings at the restaurant. 

What’s the feeling around Gembrook at the moment?

From the very beginning we were all concerned about how we are all going to come out on the other side of this. This situation has placed so much strain on our business. It has affected us personally and emotionally but the community is sticking together. They are popping in to say hello, that in itself is support. They are buying our products, sharing our posts on social media and spreading the word that we are now trading with our ‘Ready to Heat at Home Meals’ available to purchase online. 

The week we closed our landlord contacted us and offered their help. Neighbours, suppliers, local groups, staff and our families are all working with us to support us. 

What changes are you considering for the business once restrictions are downgraded?

We are currently making a lot of changes in regards to service and our offerings. We review our profit and loss statement daily to see where we can cut unnecessary costs. We are also working towards a new marketing plan. Everyone is also involved in doing small projects that are difficult to do when the restaurant is in operation such as maintenance, filing, cleaning and gardening. 

What have you been watching or reading in lockdown?

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Where Dreams Come From’. I’ve also been spending my time cooking at home and going for walks with my son. I’ve been watching ‘That 70’s Show’, it’s a good laugh when you need to relax. 


The Independent Gembrook
79  Main Street, Gembrook

Pierrepoint Wines

Andrew and Jenny are the kind of family hosts you expect from a little cellar door on a private property. They love what they do, though like most growers and makers, they question their own sanity. We didn’t have any further questions after sampling the wines, though. They’re all a perfect education in terroir – that fancy French word for the intangible combination of place, climate, season, and ‘vibe’ that makes wines taste the way they do. Regular music gigs held at the venue make it worth signing up to the newsletter.

These little places are why we leave the city for a long weekend.