Rutherglen is a foodie’s dream, home to some of Victoria’s best producers and wineries. Only three hours’ drive from Melbourne, Rutherglen is perfect for a long weekend to really soak in its historic charm, burgeoning food culture, country hospitality and some great places to stay for the weekend.
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 English elm trees, and you’ll see a turreted red brick castle. Then you know you have arrived!
Established in 1864, All Saints Estate is a family owned winery. Nestled between the historic cellar door and one of their older shiraz blocks is an award-winning Terrace restaurant. 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. Start 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 flavor punch on every mouthful. Moving on to the main event, 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 flavor rich dish. Just beautiful.
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.
Take 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.
Wrap 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.