Rutherglen is a foodie’s dream, home to some of Victoria’s best producers and wineries. After the gold rush, Rutherglen blossomed into a prosperous agricultural town and quickly became one of the region’s most important wine-producing districts, specialising in muscat and durif. Only three hours’ drive from Melbourne, Rutherglen is perfect for a long weekender to really soak in its historic charm, burgeoning food culture and good ol’ country hospitality.
A winery that is definitely worth a day in itself is All Saints Estate. Just 15 minutes from Main Street, on the banks of the Murray in Wahgunyah, All Saints is steeped in history and full of surprises around every corner. Drive through the statement wrought iron gate entrance and down the stunning driveway, lined with 130 year old English elm trees, and you’ll see a turreted red brick castle amidst historical buildings and manicured gardens. Then you know you have arrived!
Established in 1864, All Saints Estate is a family owned winery, owned by siblings Eliza, Angela and Nicholas Brown (children of Peter Brown, one of the original Brown Brothers of Milawa), a fourth-generation wine family. According to Eliza, “family that plays together stays together” and once onsite you can really feel a genuine passionate and comradery amongst the family and staff.
Nestled between the historic cellar door and one of their older shiraz blocks is award winning Terrace restaurant which has been awarded a Chef’s Hat every year from 2013 onwards. And with Simon Arkless (ex OXO in London, Comme) at the helm of the kitchen you can expect big things. A two course ($60 per person) and three course ($80 per person) is available, with an additional cost for wine matching. Largely modern Australian with a European twist, the menu is inspired by local, seasonal produce, with a nice blend of fresh seafood, free range meats and vegetarian options. For Simon and the Brown’s, the next stage of the ‘wine and food’ dream is to be self sustainable with all produce coming from the surrounding estate land.
We started with a picture perfect plate of cured king salmon teamed with nori, thin wafers of radish and micro herbs. Little balls of compressed apple bursted with freshness, accompanied by small dollops of organic quark, finished with a cheeky drizzle of truffle honey to provide a touch of sweetness.
Another standout was the South Australian octopus, grilled to perfection on a bed of black rice with a creamy, risotto consistency. The sherry dressing really brought this dish to life, cutting through the creaminess of the black rice and tingling the back of the throat with a lingering flavour punch on every mouthful.
Moving on to the main event, my personal favourite was the roast redgate farm quail. Falling apart from the bone with the slightest of fork nudges, the quail was succulent and tender, a beautiful contrast to the golden, crispy skin. Chunky cubes of buckwheat polenta, combined with truffled pecorino, coddled yolk and King Brown mushrooms to produced a texturally and flavour rich dish. Just beautiful.
A rack of All Saints Lamb, cooked medium, is just enough to show off a hint of rosy flesh. It’s a simple, understated dish which allows the lamb to be the real hero. The jus is subtle and delicate but good enough to mop up every last drop, combining nicely with parsnips, heirloom carrots and pickled onion.
For dessert, a chocolate cremoso tart is teamed with slices of poached pear and an edible trail of coffee crumbs. The tart is buttery, crisp and holds its integrity beautifully – just like a good tart should. But let’s not lie – it’s all about the filling here -and the chocolate cremoso definitely does not disappoint with its velvety, smooth consistency.
On the lighter side is the mascarpone mousse – a modern strawberry shortcake of sorts, teamed with Pedro Ximénez, strawberries and shortbread. It’s a perfect summery dish, if you feel like you can’t squeeze in a heavier dessert.
After lunch, we took the time to explore the beautiful grounds, wandering past the stunning English style manicured lawns and rose garden and towards the Murray where we discovered an original Chinese Dormitory, built over 100 years ago and the last remaining example of its type in Australia.
Lined with 100-year-old oak casks, The Great Hall is an incredible space and used for the main wine storage area for All Saints, the casks brimming with rare Tokays and Muscats.
We wrapped up the day perched on one of the deck chairs by the lake soaking in the sunshine while listening to the wind whistle through the trees and birds chirp in the distance. What a way to spend the afternoon. Of course no visit is complete without a full tasting at their historic cellar door and a visit to Indigo Food Co to take home some of their delicious produce. I can’t wait to come back already.
Terrace, All Saints Estate
A 315 All Saints Rd, Wahgunyah VIC 3687
T (02) 6035 2222
I was kindly invited as a guest of All Saints Estate, all views are honest and my own