Victoria – Melbourne – Get out of town for a vineyard lunch

Great country dining within an hour from the city

By Robyn Lewis
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Vineyard Cookbook [©Penguin Books]

Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps cellar door, Healesville, Victoria
Woodman Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Mandala Wines, the Yarra Valley's newest wine and food destination
Vines of Red Hill, licensed restaurant and vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria


There are some great country lunching places not far from Melbourne to enjoy on a day off or a lazy weekend – and they're good for showcasing Victoria to visiting out-of-towners.


Mornington Peninsula:

  • Voted Australia’s best vineyard restaurant, it's always good – any wine and food lover would enjoy Montalto and its surrounding garden, sculpture walk and views, and there's an outdoor bistro area for more casual occasions.
  • Also right up there in quality and with great service is Salix at Willow Creek. The food is as delicious as ever.
  • Looking for somewhere new? Try the spectacular Port Phillip Estate, especially if you enjoy modern surrounds and fabulous views.
  • Red Hill Cellars Order your gourmet picnic basket in advance – full of local produce and a few gourmet favourites from interstate and overseas, then find a spot overlooking one of the Peninsula's wild back beaches. Enjoy the view, devour the basket!
  • Stillwater at Crittenden (Dromana) For a family friendly lunch – first treat yourself to a wine tasting in the Crittenden cellar door and sample estate-made produce, before settling in for a magnificent three course luncheon in the dining room. Stroll around the lake and finish with a coffee on the terrace – the perfect family lunch!
  • Something smaller, quieter and a bit different – Bittern Cottage, just south of Hastings on the eastern side, when you can experience European-style lunches, sharing tables and enjoying Noel and Jenny Burrows' own menu du jour;
  • La Petanque – for a delightful and relaxing touch of France on Red Hill. Right up there in quality.
  • Pier 10   – fancy a lively lunch with a bit of jazz on the side, perhaps? Then check our Pier 10.
  • Vines of Red Hill, for a classical lunch in vineyard surrounds.


Yarra Valley:

  • Mandala is one of the Valley's best wine and food destinations. Very special. 
  • De Bortoli – always a favourite, especially for Italian food lovers.
  • Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander – if you enjoy a casual, upbeat atmosphere, this is it. Wood-fired pizzas, bakery, cafe and beer on tap as well as wines.
  • Yering Station offers you both formal and informal dining, with views across the Valley to the Dandenong Ranges.
  • Domaine Chandon – warm up with a wine tasting (don't miss their sparkling wine) then stay for lunch. Another great place to take your visiting guests from overseas.
  • Tarrawarra Estate – enjoy some art, then match wine with your lunch in the Wine Bar Cafe.


Geelong/Melbourne West:

  • Shadowfax – lunches here are bit more edgy and informal.
  • Pettavel – award-winning food, for modern food-lovers, great wines too.
  • Sunnybrae with George Biron – one of our all time favourites, in the village of Birregurra. Allow the entire afternoon!
  • Spray Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula; lovely views especially.


Macedon Ranges:

Head to the township of Kyneton – there are way too many good places to eat for one small town and it's only an hour from Melbourne.

  • Annie Smithers Bistrot for French-inspired use of local produce and award-winning style.
  • Royal George Hotel – serious food, serious wine, serious fun. There are many more to choose from in this foodie town!


Or perhaps you might like to spoil yourself and make a weekend of it. Stay at

  • Kyneton Ridge Estate, just 8km from the centre of Kyneton. Bed and Breakfast accommodation, fantastic views, friendly cafe onsite, good wines and a roaring fireplace in winter.

Also overnight 

Mornington Peninsula:

  • Woodman Estate – Luxury boutique accommodation, restaurant and day spa in Merricks on the east of the Mornington Peninsula. Treat yourself to a divine high tea and perhaps a massage at the day spa as well.


Yarra Valley:

  • Ainsworth Estate, family-owned and operated boutique winery, restaurant and luxury accommodation. Wine tastings and meals in a relaxed friendly environment with spectacular views across the valley, or for a total indulgence stay overnight in one of the three luxurious self-contained one bedroom apartments.


Can’t get out of town? Maybe treat yourself to a great book about wine or beer or a wonderful cookbook. Check out our Top 12 for 2011.

  •'s Top 12 Cookbooks of 2011 – What’s made the Top Dozen food books this year? Which inspired us, made us want to rush into our kitchens, and filled us with dreams? 
  •'s Top 12 Wine and Beer Books of 2011 – Our annual Top 12 Wine and Beer Books of 2011 provides some great inspiration for the festive season. This year, there’s a bit more quirk and international wine flavour in our top dozen, as well as the reliably good wine guides.




  • Melbourne Surrounds (VIC)

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