Just right for sharing ... the hearty lunch platter at Whispering Vines. Photo: Eddie Jim
WHERE AND WHAT
It's God's own country at Trofeo Estate, a bucolic slice of heaven at a former passionfruit plantation that once supplied concentrate for Passiona. Owner Jim Manolios sets his sights higher than soft drink – his 20 hectares of vineyards are adopting biodynamic principles, and the imposing red-brick storehouse has been turned into the recently opened Whispering Vines Cafe, with committed kitchen gardens and an organic/free-range mandate.
WHERE TO SIT
Pull up a seat at a timber table in the Vines' 100-year-old building. Photo: Eddie Jim
Sandblasted red-brick walls, concrete floors, enormous timber doors: the makeover of this almost-100-year-old building is masterful, although comfort hasn't been sacrificed in the name of good looks. Now the mercury is plunging it's helpful to know this barn of a building is well insulated and comfortably heated. Lawns make for happy kiddie tumbling, and tables along the outdoor decking overlook a duck pond.
Try before you buy – first grab a taste of Trofeo Estate vineyard's small but growing output of chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz at the cellar door before deciding on commitment. The estate's low-alcohol moscato is a good choice for designated drivers, and they encourage half-glasses for maximum sampling. There's a small selection of outside drops. Coffee is by AllPress, and milk is biodynamic.
Chef Farid Rachedi, a Frenchman who has done the rounds of Peninsula restaurants including La Petanque, Montalto, Port Phillip Estate and Heronswood, has a good handle on vibrant, modern cafe food.
Start with a lunch platter of duck-liver pate, pork rillettes, sardine escabeche, prosciutto and a slab of blue cheese with a support cast including black-olive paste, pickled cucumbers and radishes plus Melba toasts and warmed flatbread. At $34, it could easily be lunch for two. Confit duck salad with beetroot and bitter leaves, a poached egg and candied walnuts straddles the breakfast-lunch divide; so does the filo pastry flan of kale, pine nuts and egg, with Jerusalem artichoke crisps crunching up a radish and pomegranate salad.
A dessert cabinet has an embarrassment of riches, from clafoutis to delicate little strawberry tartlets. The passionfruit tart is good; classic scones with jam and cream, even better.
Multiple generations happily coexist.
A pretty newcomer that slots easily into the region's food and wine scene.
- 03 5981 8688
- Opening Hours - Daily 8am-4pm (lunch from noon); cellar-door tastings daily from 10am-5pm.
- Author - Larissa Dubecki