Looking for a gourmet weekend escape? Here are fifteen of the best food and wine properties in Australia as voted by Luxury Travel readers.
1. Lake House Daylesford, VIC
Famed for its two-hatted restaurant, Lake House is a lush enclave where art, food and relaxation reign supreme. The restaurant is famed for its seasonal dishes made using local produce and accompanied by an internationally acclaimed wine list with more than 1,000 labels. Nearly everything is made in-house, from the freshly baked breads to the charcuterie range – local lamb, grass fed beef and goat’s milk cheese are often delivered in the morning.
The retreat is surrounded by six acres of country garden, including a Kitchen Garden with edible plants and flowers as well as artwork and sculptures from the region’s local artists. For those looking for an epicurean escape that goes beyond dining at the renowned restaurant, Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker runs cooking classes that include a three-hour cooking session, followed by a sit down lunch with accompanying wines.
2. Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa, NSW
Situated on the NSW Bouddi Peninsula about an hour and a half from Sydney’s CBD, Bells at Killcare is surrounded by the innumerable bushwalks and beaches of the National Park. The accommodation is a mix of studios, cottages and villas. Inside, rooms are bright and airy with large, soft and inviting couches, freestanding egg-shaped tubs and generous-sized, beautifully fragrant Bouddi bathroom products which are made on site. The private decks are furnished with rattan chairs, dining tables with candleholders and over-sized daybeds.
The venue’s Manor House restaurant overlooks the garden which provides 15 per cent of the produce on the menu, with kitchen staff sourcing eggs from hens on the property and making honey in-house from on-site beehives. The kitchen staff, under the direction of chef Stenfano Manfredi, strive to create as much on site as possible; so the pastries, breads, granola, bircher muesli, banana bread, jams, relishes and fruit compotes are all courtesy of the kitchen chefs.
3. Lindenderry at Red Hill, VIC
With a fine dining restaurant helmed by award-winning chef Michael Greenlaw and an on-site vineyard producing the cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for which the region is famous, Lindenderry at Red Hill, in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is one of the leading destinations for a boutique food and wine weekend.
The property offers plenty to keep guests occupied between meals, with lush garden walks, a pool, library, tennis courts and chess, as well as packages including a trip to the nearby Hot Springs or a romantic picnic in the vineyard.
4. The Louise, SA
Ideally positioned in the abundant food and wine enclave of South Australia’s Barossa, Valley, The Louise is a luxurious base from which to explore the surrounding wine country. With a serious emphasis on farm-to-plate dining – 85 per cent of the menu comes from within the Barossa Valley and South Australia – the property’s own dining venue Appellation is a destination in and of itself. Bread is baked on-site, waste is minimised and even the sparkling water is made from freshly carbonated rain water collected on the property.
5. Cape Lodge, WA
This boutique lodge in the heart of Margaret River wine country sits on manicured grounds, bordered by a forest, a vineyard and two lakes. The on-site restaurant serves modern regional cuisine and the extensive wine list features current and back vintages from Margaret River’s great wine estates and other Australian and international wine regions. The Sunday Chef’s Harvest Dinners are a popular way to get a taste of the region, with the kitchen serving up a three course share menu using local and estate-grown produce. Guests can even bring their own bottle purchased from one of the surrounding vineyards during the day’s winery visits.
6. Chateau Yering Hotel, VIC
Less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD, Chateau Yering Hotel in the Yarra Valley is a grand Victorian-style mansion presiding over a 250-acre estate consisting of 32 classically-furnished suites, a spa, library, meeting rooms, pool, tennis court, historic gardens and renowned restaurant Eleonore’s. Headed by Chef Mark Campbell, the hatted restaurant is one of the region’s best fine-dining experiences and offers locally sourced dishes complemented by Yarra Valley wines from the property’s historic cellar built in 1840.
7. Saffire Freycinet, TAS
With an abundance of floor to ceiling windows looking directly over the Hazards mountain chain in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park, the views at Saffire are reason enough to visit. But it’s not just the scenery that wows. With a climate similar to the south of France, the surrounding area produces flavourful cool-climate wines, while the fishing ports see a daily parade of oysters, crayfish, scallops and deep-sea fish drip in from the local boats and into the hands of Saffire’s head chef, Hugh Whitehouse. The menu changes every day and features ingredients from Saffire’s garden, local beehives and the bushland and shorelines of Freycinet Peninsula.
The property also offers culinary experiences such as a guided tour of an oyster farm in the Greater Swanport river estuary, where guests sample the oysters along with a glass of local bubbly or chardonnay. Guests can also take a cocktail mixology class or participate in a cooking demonstration given by either the sous or head chef.
8. Southern Ocean Lodge, NSW
This spectacular luxury lodge on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia is perched on a cliff, looking directly onto the wild coastline, with azure waves crashing dramatically against the rocks below. The luxurious rooms offer heated bathroom floors and bathtubs with views out to sea and the hotel provides a number of guided tours including a seal-viewing excursion and a cliff-walk where guests can catch glimpses of local wildlife and the rugged coastline.
Like many properties in the gourmet hotspot of Kangaroo Island, the real attraction is the food. Executive Chef Asher Blackford, previously of One&Only Wolgan Valley and Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat in Daylesford takes diners on a gastronomic journey of Kangaroo Island with his produce to plate approach featuring the fresh organic produce of local artisan growers.
9. Brae, VIC
Ranked 44th in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2017, Brae is undoubtedly one of the best places to eat in Australia. Set on 30 acres of organic farmland just one and a half hours outside of Melbourne in the Otway hinterland, the property produces its own vegetables, fruits, nuts, olives and eggs and even hosts a hive of bees for fresh honey and pollination while using regenerative farming techniques to minimise the impact on the environment. Brae’s zero net emission, eco-friendly luxury guest suites are constructed from recycled bricks, slate floors, brass fittings and Australian blackout timber panelling, while power is provided by solar panels and waste is treated by a worm farm biological waste system. After an evening meal at Brae, visitors staying in the suites can take a morning stroll through the farm before retiring to their suite for an in-room breakfast of freshly baked pastries, Brae honey, St Ali coffee, local milk, freshly squeezed juice and fruits and vegetables harvested on site.
10. Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa, VIC
An active vineyard in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Balgownie Estate is home to a full service day spa and a refined restaurant with panoramic views over the undulating landscape surrounding the estate. Guests staying in one of Balgownie’s 70 suites are treated to free tastings of Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir at the cellar door and tours of the region are also on offer, showcasing the best of the Yarra Valley’s vineyards, fromageries, local art and fresh produce.
11. Port Phillip Estate, VIC
One of the Mornington Peninsula’s finest winery stays, Port Phillip Estate uses sustainable farming methods to produce their boutique Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay. Headed by Chef Stuart Deller, the venue’s European-style restaurant looks over the vineyard, with views of Westernport Bay and the Bass Strait and serves wines from the Port Phillip Estate as well as a carefully selected offering of old and new world vintages. The cellar door also serves a selection of small and large plates to pair with a glass of wine from the vineyard. Accommodation consists of just six contemporary suites, each with a private balcony and sweeping views of the surrounding vineyard and coastline.
Set on a 7,000-acre conservancy within the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains region, One&Only Wolgan Valley offers 40 ultra-luxe accommodations plus a swimming pool with a striking mountain range backdrop. Villas have their own indoor heated lap pool, sky view shower with a glass ceiling and fully enclosed outdoor patio. A bathtub is set below windows that can open to the elements and the double-sided fireplace can be enjoyed from either the enormous four-poster, king-sized bed or in the living area.
The resort aims to be as sustainable as possible and, in keeping with this policy, produce served in the on-site restaurant is sourced from within a 160km radius – as long as the standard passes the One&Only quality test. The wine list comprises New South Wales wines from Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange; along with wines from other Australian states and an impressive selection of imported wines.
13. MONA Pavilions, TAS
Comprised of just eight bold, angular pavilions decorated in the style of famous Australian artists, MONA Pavillions at the Museum of Old and New Art is one of the best places to say in Hobart. As well as providing easy access to the museum itself, the pavilions are within easy reach of the eight dining and drinking venues that make up the MONA complex. The Source Restaurant run by executive chef Vince Trim serves up share plates made from fresh local produce and are accompanied by a wine list with more than ten thousand bottles of wine from across the globe.
14. Meletos, VIC
Another Yarra Valley favourite, Meletos is a family-run property with a café, intimate events space, a 23-room boutique guest house and expansive grounds filled with vineyards and orchards. The estate was once a collection of centuries-old farm buildings and much of the rustic charm of the original property remains. The cafe places a heavy emphasis on Victorian produce, with the cheese provided by the neighbouring Yarra Valley Dairy and local artisan small goods are available for purchase at The Warehouse Bar and Larder. Napoleone Brewers, a family run micro-brewery is also on-site, producing hand-crafted ales.
15. Polperro, VIC
The villas at Polperro in the Mornington Peninsula are surrounded by 25 acres of vines and gardens, with the property producing the organic and biodynamic Pinot Noirs for which the region is famous. Polperro Bistro uses the estate’s seasonal harvests to create a premium casual dining experience, complemented of course by an extensive wine list sourced from vineyards across Australia.