Renowned Peninsula Chef takes the reins at new Queenscliff food offering TARRA

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Chris McConville

One of the Mornington Peninsula’s most renowned chefs is set to take the helm at the latest premier restaurant launching in Queenscliff in time for winter.

Chef Michael Demagistris will take the lead as executive chef at the new restaurant TARRA – opening as part of the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal on the Bellarine.

Michael Demagistris

Operated by Searoad Ferries, the 60-seat contemporary coastal dining experience will boast a menu that not only showcases the finest local produce and seasonal ingredients, but the wealth of experience that Chef Michael will bring to the fold.

Having previously worked at some of Australia’s most prestigious restaurants including Jacques Reymond, Chef Michael’s passion for food has seen him travel the world, working in venues such as Alinea, The Publican and Noma.

Known for his innovative approach to cooking and extensive use of local produce, he says he is looking forward to bringing his passion and expertise to TARRA Queenscliff and developing a menu that highlights the Bellarine’s produce while emphasising his love of foraging.

With a menu inspired by the ocean, land and change of seasons, diners can expect to savour innovative dishes that highlight Chef Michael’s affinity for exploration and interesting ingredients including sea succulents, kelp, samphire, and wild berries.

“I can’t wait to create some truly memorable dishes for our guests,” he says.

Chef Michael will take the reins alongside Head Chef Ryan James who will work with the TARRA team to craft a fresh food vision and menu to transform the restaurant into a unique dining destination.

TARRA is located on the ground floor of the new Queenscliff building – the iconic, architectural, state-of-the-art building that was opened earlier this year and houses Tarra store, food offering and Searoad Ferries.

Sitting against the stunning Port Phillip Bay backdrop, the terminal features a sleek, sophisticated coastal feel that complements the surrounding views with an internal design that equally oozes style and poise.

Bellarine Restaurant

The TARRA team will be give insight into the menu with a cooking demonstration at a Community Open Day held on April 22, which also includes live music, kids entertainment and prize giveaways.

Searoad Ferries COO Dwight Harrison says he was thrilled to have Chef Michael on board and was looking forward to the restaurant’s official opening.

“His passion and his commitment to delivering exceptional dining experiences align perfectly with our vision for the restaurant,” Dwight says.

“The internal fit-out of TARRA is of the highest quality that perfectly complements the surrounding natural environment and we can’t wait for it to be officially opened.”

Australia’s busiest vehicle ferry service, Searoad Ferries, car and passenger ferry service sails between Queenscliff and Sorrento with over 8,200 crossings annually and carries over 950,000 passengers.


WHAT: TARRA Queenscliff
WHEN: The new terminal opens April 20 (Community Open Day – April 22) and TARRA restaurant opening scheduled for mid-year.

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Kin – Victoria’s new regional dining destination

Words: Richard Cornish
Images: Richard Cornish and supplied

Victoria has some excellent dining rooms worth the drive. Brae, Lake House, Stefano’s, Hogget, The Bunyip, Provenance, and now Kin. Kin is the Brown siblings’ new fine dining restaurant that replaces the old Terrace at All Saints winery near Rutherglen.

The roomy, warm, and comfortable dining room is the crowning glory of the Brown family’s next-generation refurbishment of the 1864 castellated winery by the banks of the Murray at Wahgunyah. The change is remarkable. Over the past 12 months, their former Indigo Cheese Room has become Bonnie, a casual pizza and fine wine diner. The cellar door has moved to a beautiful new space with a modern museum feel offering paid curated tastings. And now comes Kin.

Take a seat at a leather banquette looking out over the gardens, the vineyards, and the historic Chinese labourer’s quarters. The blonde wooden tables are set with fine Riedel stemware, an indication of the serious approach the Browns take to wine. At one end of the room are three round brick enclave booths. A major feature that could represent old fermenting tanks or the three Brown siblings: Eliza, Angela, and Nicholas.

Taking the reins in the kitchen is the relatively young Jack Cassidy, who has worked at Bistro Guillaume and Mornington Peninsula winery restaurants Jackalope and Paringa Estate. His style is modern, focusing on layered flavours without overworking the dish. There are four entrees, four mains, and four desserts. Choose between $75 for two courses or $95 for three. Spoiler!

The meal starts with a surprise plate of amuse-buches. Half cherry tomatoes with house-made ricotta, a gilda of house-pickled chilli and Mount Ophir olives, and dense lamb capocollo. Order the pillow soft three-day fermented focaccia baked with confit tomato oil to sop up the delicious sauces such as the black garlic puree under the grilled kangaroo skewers. There could be a succulent confit ox heart tomato sitting in a deep dark bowl of delicious tomato water with a fried saltbush crumb.

Jack knows fish and serves perhaps the perfect fillet of rainbow trout, briefly cured to make the flesh dense and the skin crisp; it is briefly pan-fried and served with an umami-rich foamed mussel and chardonnay sauce. The standout dish and a masterpiece in texture is a plate of plump, unctuous scallops crudo sitting with a silky serve of bottarga tarama draped with fine slices of rich, luscious guanciale topped with cured salmon roe.

The skill in the kitchen is all about developing flavour, with unfussed plating up, leaving space for the produce to tell its story and the wine to complete each dish. It is an excellent chance to see All Saints wines in their natural habitat and how they work with food. KIN sits on beautiful, historic grounds in a beautiful historic wine region. It’s worth the drive.

The Details

What: Modern, delicious produce drive menu
Who: Chef Jack Cassidy and the Brown siblings
Where: 205 All Saints Rd, Wahgunyah (10km from Rutherglen in Northern Victoria)
Why: Historic building, great food, excellent wine
When: Open Now
More Info: All Saints Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Fine dining in Albury with a singular vision for the menu

Words & images by Richard Cornish

Glenbosch on Dean Street, Albury, is the brand-new culinary flagship for Glenbosch Winery in Everton Upper. Winemaker Dirk Bester and his wife and restaurateur Nika moved to the Northeast from Swartland in the Western Cape of South Africa.

They opened the winery three years on the site of an existing business. They expanded operations to include a distillery and a restaurant. Two weeks ago, they opened the doors to their new cellar door and fine dining restaurant in the historic Australia Building in the heart of Albury, a short walk from the train station.

The cellar door is a light and welcoming space with loads of charming traditional Cape-style touches from the Dutch-influenced glazed tiles at the entrance, the animal horn chandeliers, and the lime-wood booths and wooden tables. This is a tasting room for the wines made at the winery, about an hour to the south near Beechworth, and a bar. Come during the day to taste the cool climate wines made by Dirk.

Smoke from the 2020 fires meant he needed to bring in fruit from elsewhere, but his 2021 chardonnay shows his skill in the traditional French style of winemaking. Dirk explores his Swartland roots in the Glenbosch gins with one flavoured with rooibos, the herbal tea grown in Swartland. Enjoy four wines or three gins with matching food for $25, or taste the drinks without the food match for $15. Lunchtime from Thursday to Saturday sees a chef’s choice lunch menu, perhaps a choice of steak or tuna.

Pass through a set of heavy wooden doors to the dining room, a sparse historic, industrial space with polished concrete floors, bare brick walls, and timber joists of the floor above and tables topped with a thick veneer made from an old butcher’s block. In the open kitchen, you can see Chef Chris de Jongh plating up. He’s an acolyte of the molecular gastronomy school of cuisine and alumni of the great South African restaurant La Colombe, rated 56th in the 2022 World’s 50 Best Restaurants. His set menu is a singular representation of his journey through the countries of the world that has influenced his technique-rich style of cooking based on excellent produce.

The nine-course menu, with an option of buying in at just five, takes diners around the globe with a cavalcade of beautifully presented and expertly executed dishes. The first course sees a brisee pastry tartlet lined with horseradish cream and smoked kangaroo. Then there’s a trip to India with the crisp round shell of a pan puri filled with potato curry topped with a cooling cucumber and coriander gel.

Served in a pot of succulents decorated with a smoking cinnamon quill, it is beautiful and theatrical. There could be a single oyster with mint and black garlic served on a bed of dry ice or a tile of pressed beef shorted rib laid out on the end of a cleaned trimmed rib and topped with salsa verde and a sweet and sour sauce from Cape Malay. Eaten straight off the bone, the flavours are straight from the Cape.

Another stand-out dish is what appears to be a jug with a candle. It is actually filled with liquid beef fat that is poured out onto a plate with a Japanese milk bun which is used to sop up the fat, and clay pot filled with onion jam, emulsion and soil. While there is some dissonance between the slightly gloomy dining room and the bright theatrical style of the menu, those who like the playful excess of molecular cuisine should be impressed by the food alone. The floor staff has an old-world difference that helps play to the exuberance and sheer fun of the dishes. With Albury and Wodonga being joined at the hip, it is OK to say that regional Victoria now has another dining destination.

The Details

What: Molecular fine dining in the heart of Albury
Who: Chef Chris de Jongh, ex-Cape Town
Where: 453 Dean Street, Albury
Why: Seriously fun, flavourful, well-executed multi-course degustation
When: Open now
More Info: Glenbosch

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Australia’s first Six Senses to open in the Dandenong Ranges

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

A new masterplan for the historic Burnham Beeches estate will see the heritage mansion and 22-hectare grounds transformed into luxury accommodation, restaurant and spa.

Slated for opening in mid-2025, Six Senses will maintain the heritage-listed art deco elegance of the estate located just under an hour from Melbourne, neighbouring Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens. It will be the first Six Senses branded accommodation in Australia.

What was built in the 1930s for a wealthy industrialist Alfred Nichols, has had a bumpy past changing hands regularly over the years, most recently being sold by former Vue de Monde owner and chef Shannon Bennet and his business partner Adam Garrison who were unable to fully see their vision of a hospitality destination come to life. Now having been acquired by Trenerry Consortium, who’ve recently completed an overhaul of the Mornington Peninsula’s The Continental Sorrento, the estate is once again under redevelopment.

With an expected initial 43 guest rooms, Six Senses will also include hospitality venues, including a welcome lounge and terrace, a restaurant with outdoor seating, a library bar, and a rooftop retreat. Accommodation layout will vary slightly over the mansion’s three main wings and offer a decadent retreat filled with luxury, character, and quirky touches. Six Senses will aim to also incorporate a two-bedroom cottage and unique glamping experience over time.

A sensory fest promises to await guests as the sprawling farm gardens will provide fruit and vegetables for the restaurants and the herb garden will produce healing and aromatic plants for use in Alchemy Bar and Six Senses Spa treatments. The Six Senses Spa will offer a regenerative escape with a welcome lounge and boutique, tea lounge, treatment rooms, gym, hydro area and sauna, and comfy relaxation spaces.

“For Six Senses Burnham Beeches is to be regenerative, it will not be a static place,” says Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs. “We’ll evolve and respond to bring the rich heritage of Burnham Beeches to life, inviting moments of exploration, discovery, connection to nature, and delight through interactive gastronomy, wellness, and sustainability experiences.”

The masterplan also includes plans for a Village Square, giving hotel guests and locals access to an additional collection of hospitality venues including The Hearth, The Barn, Steak House, The Baker, Brew House, and Providore.

Burnham Beeches, Sherbrooke, and Nicholas Gardens are connected by a series of walking trails that weave throughout the site. Guests will be able to explore the historical, ecological, cultural, and indigenous stories from Burnham Beeches and the Wurundjeri and Kulin nation lands, incorporated into the art, architecture, signage, and landscaping throughout the grounds.

The Details

What: Luxury accommodation, restaurant and spa
When: Opening in mid-2025
Where: 1 Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke
Find out more: Burnham Beeches

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The Conti to host Champagne, Oysters and Spectacular tales

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images Supplied

Enjoy fresh oysters, caviar and Tattinger champagne over ocean views exclusively hosted by two award-winning journalists, noted authors and food and wine experts, Richard Cornish and Max Allen.

Held at The Continental Sorrento from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on Saturday, October 1st, the one-night-only exclusive event will indulge guests with premium oysters from across Australia with Taittinger champagne accompanied by lively tales from Richard and Max.

Accompanied by glasses of Brut Réserve from Taittinger on arrival, (one of the world’s oldest and most renowned champagne houses), guests will also enjoy an indulgent bump of beluga caviar from Caviar Giaveri as they learn about the rise, fall and rise of the oyster reefs of Port Phillip Bay, and the enduring love Victorians have for champagne.

Join Richard and Max on their storytelling journey as they share the little-known tales of the oyster reefs that once existed in the shallow waters of the bay, a Nebuchadnezzar of Taittinger will be poured accompanied by a curated plate of a half dozen of oysters for each guest.

Discover your favourites as each plate features oysters sourced from locations across Australia including St Helens and Pipe Clay Lagoon in Tasmania, Smokey Bay and Streaky Bay in South Australia, and Merimbula, Wonboyn and Shoalhaven in New South Wales, with a highlight being native Angasi oysters from Steve Cooper’s Flinders Island Oyster Company.

Following a guided tasting, enjoy an oyster station packed with Southern Rock Oysters and a cash bar for those looking to keep the soiree going as they enjoy the spectacular ocean views from The Continental Sorrento’s Sunset Terrace.

Recently opened earlier this year, The Continental Sorrento is quickly becoming a luxury lifestyle destination on the Mornington Peninsula featuring a selection of curated dining, entertainment, wellness retreat and luxury accommodation, InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula.


WHAT: Oysters & Champagne With Richard Cornish & Max Allen
WHERE: The Continental Sorrento, 21 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento
WHEN: Saturday, October 1st
FIND OUT MORE: Oysters & Champagne With Richard Cornish & Max Allen

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Is Sorrento Victoria’s new dining capital?

Words by Richard Cornish
Images Supplied

Sorrento’s colonial limestone buildings look out over a half moon of Norfolk Island pines onto white sands framing the azure blue waters of Port Phillip. A community of seafarers, surfers, retirees, and tradies who co-exist with weekend and summer influx of visitors, it may be remarkably beautiful, but it has never truly been a dining destination.

While Bistro Elba has punched above its weight for years, offering great wines and excellent meals based on local produce, Sorrento has not otherwise had an overabundance of great food offers.

Come 2022, and the situation has been completely overturned. Sorrento is now almost overburdened by experienced, talented chefs with venues filled with some big culinary names. Scott Pickett opened Audrey’s, his seafood-focused restaurant at the Continental Hotel. Ashley Hicks, who cooked with Tom Aikens in London, moved to Sorrento to open the refurbished Stringers Store. This week the Hotel Sorrento reopens its bar and dining room with a menu overseen by George Calombaris. Down by the water’s edge is modern fine-dining pioneer Paul Wilson who is back in the kitchen at Morgan’s Sorrento.

“I love to fish. I love the beach. I love living in Sorrento,” says Paul Wilson. He is on the pans cooking French-inspired dishes in this historic village near the end of the Mornington Peninsula. Paul led the Brit-pack chef scene in the early 2000s making a name for himself at the Park Hyatt restaurant Radii with a dish of truffled polenta and soft egg. His oyster nights at the Botanical Hotel in South Yarra were infamous, and he bought the dodgy Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda back to a place of culinary worthiness.

Now he’s at Morgan’s Sorrento, a smart casual bistro, flooded with light with an enviable bayside view. “Being down here means I am close to my favourite suppliers,” says Paul. He buys directly from Torello Farm, Hawke’s Farm, Harry from Flinders Mussels, and Mock’s Orchards. To prove a point, he brings out a barley-fed beef rib, braised in stock for six hours, finished in the oven and served with a single slow-cooked carrot. ‘The carrot is from Hawke’s Farm at Boneo,” he says proudly. “I treat it like a good piece of beef and slowly braise it in stock.” He follows this with a stunning tarte tartin made with the bio-dynamic apples from Mock’s at Main Ridge, nestling on a golden buttery puff pastry base.

I have always chosen to open places where I could enrich the community, and I felt there was an opportunity to make a contribution here in Sorrento, close to a great food bowl and wine region. And it is so bloody beautiful.

One of Paul Wilson’s kitchen acolytes is Ash Hicks. He worked with Paul at Circa at the Prince in St Kilda. Now he is Executive Chef for the Darling Group overseeing venues such as Higher Ground and Dundas and Fausset in Albert Park. He is presently in Sorrento supervising the opening of Stringers. Set in the colonial-era limestone building and formerly a store.

Stringers is now a café, pizzeria, and providore set in the clean, lean, cool interior by architect Chris Connell. “I am absolutely in love with the limestone walls,” says Ash. “The courtyard has been opened up, and it is this beautiful limestone encased garden,” he explains. We have put a pizza oven in, Napoli style. It rotates and can do a pizza to perfection in two minutes thirty seconds.” While the bake is fast, the dough takes 72 hours to prove, developing a mass of flavour to underpin Ash’s scant three toppings. His favourite is That’s Amore fresh mozzarella and Mr. Canubi mortadella over a layer of San Marzano tomatoes. “At present it’s breakfast and lunch,” he says. “The offer is simple but very, very good. We are making our own brass die extruded pasta every day. For breakfast come and try the chilli eggs,” he says. This is a dish of folded eggs topped with whipped goats curd and what he describes as a fiery caponata laced with caper brine. “But this is a space for everyone,” he adds. “Like Sorrento, it is beautiful and casual.”

Up the hill is Hotel Sorrento. This beautiful 150-year-old building, with its iron lacework and Italianate tower, re-opened its dining room last week under the careful watch of celebrity chef George Calombaris. The former MasterChef star has teamed up with the Pitt family, owners of the 1872 hotel, to work on the new menu and the opening of a Cantonese-inspired restaurant.

The chef moved to a home in the Peninsula hinterland recently and told the media that he has been welcomed by the Mornington Peninsula community and is focusing on the ‘simple things in life’. While Calombaris is not hands-on in the kitchen, his role as Culinary Director sees a brand-new menu that borrows heavily from the Mediterranean with dishes like porchetta, swordfish, salt cod croquettes, and pub favourites like parma, schnitzel, and cheeseburger. In October, the old downstairs ballroom will open as Shi Hui Shi. At the time of writing, George had not yet finished the Cantonese-style menu, but we are promised an umami-filled offering with loads of old-school favourites given a modern twist.

Another big-name Melbourne chef who has taken digs down the pointy end of the Peninsula is Scott Pickett. He has a house near the newly re-opened Continental Hotel, a venture in which he is heavily involved. “When we first started work on the ‘Conti’, we wanted to make sure there was somewhere in this beautiful old hotel for everyone,” he says referring to the four-story 1875 pub. It was built by George Coppin, who also ran the steamships that bought visitors down the bay from Melbourne in the 1800s. He connected the ferry to the hotel with a tramway. In the 1880s Sorrento was a thriving place for Melbourne’s well-to-do leisure seekers. The historic building recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment.

This includes 106 five-star rooms, now managed by the Intercontinental Hotel. Scott worked with property developer The Trenerry Group and Melbourne pub guru Craig Shearer to take on the food and beverage offer that extends to 12 different outlets within the expansive hotel. “I wanted to have an exceptional seafood restaurant but also make sure I could still have a place to go with my mates after a day fishing,” he says.

Downstairs in the public bar you can order pub dishes such as perfect fish and chips and Thai curries while in the expansive Atrium, there are more sophisticated dishes straight from the wood-fired Josper grill in the Atrium. Upstairs is the luxurious Audrey’s, a light-filled dining room looking out over the bay where you can enjoy the luxury of a lobster and caviar tartlet, then a nibble of eel with malt glaze or cured kingfish ham on a rye crisp washed down with a glass of premier crus blanc de blanc Champagne. “Sorrento has always been a place for leisure and holidaymakers,” says Pickett. “With this re-development and others around Sorrento, this beautiful town is regaining the glamour it had in its heyday.”

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The Stanley Pub reopens with high-end, Asian-inspired menu

Words by Richard Cornish
Images Supplied

Up in Victoria’s North East, in the historic gold mining town of Stanley, is an old pub with ancient wisteria vines clinging to the veranda. The Stanley Pub has been serving locals and visitors since she first opened her doors in 1854.

During the late 1990s, this gold rush era boozer became a gastronomic destination, where food tourists would book a room and a table and make a weekend of it.

The news that restaurant impresario Peter Bartholomew, the man behind MoVida and Lee Ho Fook had bought the pub along with Beechworth chef Michael Ryan sure had tongues talking.

This week, after months of renovations and rejuvenation, the Stanley is open for business once more.

The new licensee is local chef Sally Wright. She is an accomplished chef who started her career in pubs running the kitchen in the halcyon days of the Argot and Alexandra hotels in South Yarra.

Recently she has been wowing locals with her catering company Taste Trekkers, and for the last months has been working up a menu for the Stanley.

The old pub retains its ochre yellow exterior but inside, it is a wonderland of antiques with a warm gothic bohemian feel.

The wine has been put together by local consultant Stephanie Eyles and consists of 40% local wines, 30% Australian, and the remainder wines of the world.

The menu is a joyful expression of Sally’s love of Asian food. The karage chicken is served with burdock, contract grown for her by a local co-operative of vegetable growers. There could be the classic Indonesian snack of ikan bilis – crunchy hot anchovies with peanuts mixed up with pork crackling.

In what is set to become a signature dish is a soft, white bread sandwich filled with slowly braised smoked pork hock that has been formed into a flat croquette, crumbed, and fried until crisp and golden.

There are red and green curries, tempura fried fish with yuzu, and miso tartare.

Sally is not re-booting the accommodation, instead focusing on the new produce and wine store opening in spring and the sprawling garden that will be ready for summer.


WHAT: Top-end Asian-inspired gastro pub food
WHERE: Stanley Pub, 6-12 Myrtleford-Stanley Rd, Stanley
WHEN: From August 18


We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The Continental launches stunning new accommodation options

Built by 1800s businessman and comic performer George Coppin, the four-story building was hewn from local rock and has been a local institution for locals and visitors for generations.

The latest addition to the multimillion dollar makeover of ‘The Continental’ is a Victorian era inspired seaside resort from architecture studio Woods Bagot.

The accommodation options include an array of luxuriously appointed rooms or one-and-two-bedroom suites, located either in the original 1875 limestone building or within the recently added wing. High-end penthouses will be made available by the end of 2022.

Guests will have access to the Mediterranean-style poolside deck, replete with cabanas, poolside chaises and a view across Port Phillip Bay. For those with a little more energy, there is a fully-fitted gym with 24-hour access.

Chef Scott Pickett and his team are looking after food and beverage across the different bars, restaurants, and room service. Spend the day at the beach, fishing or exploring Point Nepean then head to the public bar in your board shorts for a beer. Or you could dress up and head upstairs to Audrey.

This is a beautiful upmarket restaurant with velvet banquettes, bespoke hand-woven carpets and exquisite commissioned still-life floral photographs by a Japanese photographer. The room looks out over the palm trees, the Sorrento ferry jetty and across the azure blue waters of Port Phillip.

The set menu is seafood focused with little dishes of spanner crab in rich pastry tartlets, a crumpet topped with creamy whipped cod roe, oysters, yellowfin tuna, and local line-caught squid. The brand new rooms offer five-star luxury including top-of-the-range two-level penthouse suites offering a private rooftop terrace, private plunge pool, and separate lounge and dining area.


WHAT: InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: Open Now
WHERE: 23 Constitution Hill Road, Sorrento
MORE INFO: Accommodation bookings.

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

St Huberts reopens as Hubert Estate after multi-million dollar development

Words by Jay Dillon

Locals of the Yarra Valley have been observing the slow rising of the ground from the Maroondah Highway for the last two years. It’s either a giant mole that’s dug its way from the UK or there’s a new cellar door on its way. 

The St Huberts vineyard was established in 1862 by Charles Hubert de Castella, contributing to the first wave of vine planting which began with Yering Station to the west. The estate built a huge reputation for high-quality cabernet wines, particularly in the late 1970s and 1980s. Through these years the estate passed through many hands, most recently; publicly listed winemakers and distributors Treasury Wines Estate.

Around 2016 the vineyard property was sold to entrepreneur Gerry Ryan, who was responsible for the $16 million redevelopment of Mitchelton Wines, Nagambie. Treasury Wines has clearly not been willing to give up the heritage wine label and instead will continue to own the St Huberts brand and rent back the newly developed property, renamed as Hubert Estate, from Gerry Ryan.

‘For visitors, it will be an fantastic proposition, as you go there and do a number of interesting things across the day. Rather than just a tasting at the cellar door’. Explains Tony Layton, Business Manager St Huberts.

The property’s soft launch today (March 31) will focus on the ‘mole mound’ centrepiece building which will house St Huberts Cellar door on the top floor and a wine retail shop called Notes. Here visitors will be able to access over seventy different labels from the Treasury Wines portfolio, as well as the ‘Notes’ brand of wines that targets emerging varietals and unorthodox winemaking techniques. The basement level opens as a gallery space featuring indigenous artists from Victoria and beyond.

Quarters at Hubert Estate restaurant will open on April 8, which is built around a fast-casual and high-quality menu. Expect pizza, pasta, burgers, salads and of course an extensive wine list. As the team finds their sea legs, the restaurant will open for five days for the first month.

It’s a massive investment into the Valley, with a function and event space called ‘Harriet’ and an eighty room hotel slated to be completed by the end of the year. There are other food and wine offerings to be added in the future, in addition to a high-end day spa.

Hubert Estate is shaping up to be a centrepiece of the Yarra Valley’s ‘golden triangle’, bringing something new whilst paying respects to the heritage of the site. One imagines Charles Hubert de Castella would approve.


WHAT: Hubert Estate
WHEN: Cellar door, retail store and gallery open today March 31. Quarters at Hubert Estate restaurant will open on April 8.
WHERE:3 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream
MORE INFO: Hubert Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Balgownie Estate in Yarra Valley opens restaurant 1309

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

Balgownie Estate has quite literally risen from the ashes with their new fine dining restaurant, 1309.

If you’re looking for a place to absorb rolling vineyards, sip on some world-class wine and experience fine dining at its best, Balgownie Estate in the Yarra Valley has just opened a crowning jewel in winery venues sure to fit the bill. Meet Restaurant 1309, named charmingly after its address on the Melba Highway.

While the entire hospitality industry suffered through the pandemic last year, Balgownie Estate had another issue on their hands: a fire whipped through their restaurant between lockdowns, burning it to the ground. Fast forward 18 months and the restaurant is back with a fresh name and fresh face. 1309 is the multi-million dollar phoenix, designed by ZWEI Interiors & Architecture with capacity to seat 100 patrons in its bright, modern interior.

Inside the impressive building is an even more impressive team of chefs and executives. Head chef Beth Candy (Finalist Best Chef 2021 – TAA Awards) and executive chef Grant Flack (Winner Best Chef 2019 – TAA Awards) have teamed up once again to create a Modern-Australian menu that pays tribute to the Valley’s abundance of fresh produce and of course, pairs beautifully with Balgownie’s wines. Highlights include the Smoked paprika and herb rolled spatchcock and Crispy Berkshire-Duroc Pork belly.

“Grant and Beth are two very passionate, dedicated chefs. They’ve got a passion for local produce and work very closely with our suppliers in the Valley to deliver that experience on the plate. The flavours talk for themselves,” explains General Manager Melanie Watson.

Through December the restaurant, Cellar Door and bar is open only to in-house guests at their accommodation and long-booked weddings and functions, but come January 2022, the doors will swing open to the general public. There will be food, drink and good old fashioned service aplenty, and according to Watson, you may never want to leave.

“We call this building our new home, our Balgownie family home. Everyone who comes in is welcome straight away.”

WHAT: Restaurant 1309, Balgownie Estate
WHERE: 1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
WHEN: Opens to the public January 2022
MORE INFO: Balgownie Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.