There is an art to pulling together the perfect winery meal. The food needs to be delicious, please the diner, and complement the wine, highlighting the finesse of the winemaking.

This is a balancing act that chef Sean Marshall strives to achieve. He is chef at ‘Le Bouchon’ at Attwoods, a small, family business concentrating on making cool-climate wines in the French style at Glenlyon near Daylesford.

Sean has spent his career perfecting the simpatico between food and wines working at Chateau de Mont Joly in Jura, France and under Philippe Mouchel at PM 24 in Melbourne. “You need to understand the wine, how it works with food, how it plays on the palate and then work up a menu that will please the people who are coming to eat the food and enjoy the wine.”

The dining room looks out over a secluded garden and over the vineyard. The four and five course set menus change monthly, based on the seasonal produce Sean can source, with dishes like silky velouté of pumpkin enriched with koji (fermented rice). This could be followed by a poached rockling and a Provençal dish of braised artichokes. “It’s about working alongside the wine maker to understand the wines to achieve balance,” says Sean.

To get into the Long Lunches at Guildford Vineyard you will need to reserve your table well ahead, as this rustic 30 seat dining room is booked out months in advance. It’s not fancy, with a pebble floor and roughly hewn yellow box tables, but Zack Grumont’s four-course lunches speak a lot about the produce of the region and the growing complexity of Guildford Winery’s wines.

The self-taught chef has been hosting the almost underground lunches at the winery for six years. Without any publicity or advertising the weekend sessions have grown into an unstoppable force through word of mouth. He works closely with winemakers Chris Dilworth and Loique Allain to bring a fresh four-course menu every week to this winery off the Midland Highway between Daylesford and Castlemaine. After chicken liver pâté with Hainanese flavours, a lightly spiced pork terrine and hummus there could be some BBQ pork collar glazed with garlic and pomegranate. Perhaps followed by BBQ beef chuck braised in chicken stock topped with fermented chickpea batter and a sauce made from the reduced stock. “It’s long, it’s casual, it’s rustic,” says Zack.

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Le Bouchon at Attwoods, by Attwoods

Out at Musk, under the summit of an old volcano, is a beautiful organic vineyard and winery called Passing Clouds. Here dining is a beautifully simple affair. Everything is cooked over a charcoal grill called Prometheus. There’s no stove, no fryer. “We wanted to replicate the spit roast lunches we put on for the winery team during vintage,” says owner and winemaker Cameron Leith. “So we built a fire pit and worked out a very simple but elegant menu with chef Cameron McKenzie,” he says.

Lunch is served Thursday to Monday and might start with the tasting of new releases in the cellar door, before moving up to the dining room looking out over the vines. There could be some freshly shucked oysters, a dish of creamy vitello tonnato and a splash of white before smallgoods from local producers, a little pâté and crusty bread and some pinot noir.

Then it’s into the grill – a half chicken with an anchovy truffle paste, rich polenta and a velvety mushroom consommé piqued with some bright, sharp salsa verde. Meat lovers might go for a glass of the museum shiraz and some charcoal roasted rump cap with a braise of vegetables. “What you find in the MacedonDaylesford area are small, family-owned wineries,” says Cameron. “There are no big corporate or foreign-owned venues, so the food offered in this region reflects those family values.”

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Passing Clouds, by Stefani Driscoll


Mount Towrong Vineyard in Mount Macedon specialises in Italian varietals such as prosecco, nebbiolo and vermentino so it is no wonder their compact menu reflects northern Italian cuisine. The menu is small but delicious with dishes like creamed salt cod and slow cooked beef cheeks.

Tucked into the ancient forest on the northern slopes of the ranges is Mount Macedon Winery. Choose from the two or three-course set menu as you overlook Black Forest Valley, enjoying wine friendly favourites such as rillettes, grilled octopus, lamb shoulder and barramundi.

Farm fresh produce, direct from their own farm features heavily on the lunch menu at Captains Creek Vineyard in Blampied. Here, the winery sits within a larger 200 acre mixed organic farm, where a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts are grown, alongside grazing Dorpa sheep and Black Angus cattle. These ingredients are paired with other local producers to create seasonal dishes such as oven roasted gnocchi, Captains Creek lamb shoulder and chicken and camembert pie.

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Mount Towrong Vineyard, by Adam Neylon

About the author

Cornish Richard
Richard Cornish
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Richard Cornish is an award winning food writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why some foods taste better than others. He writes for The Age, SMH, DMT Life and has written eight cook books including co-writing the Movida series with Frank Camorra.