Stillwater at Crittenden Estate
Stillwater might be the most underrated dining experience on the Peninsula. Unlike most other winery restaurants, this one is owned and operated by chefs – married couple Zac and Jacqui Poulier. They put most of their effort into the food.
Since 2004, the duo has been serving elegant dishes such as house-made beetroot pasta; Josper-roasted eye fillet with parsnip puree; and duck breast with pumpkin puree. There are always smaller entrees to share – sesame-seared tuna with wakame, black garlic and ponzu, for example – but the format is more or less one main per person.
Crittenden, the vineyard and winery Stillwater is located on, has a longer history. Garry and Margaret Crittenden planted their first vines here in 1982. Nowadays, children Rollo and Zoe oversee a portfolio of 26 wines, and an impressive wine centre built in 2014.
Take one of 40 seats to try the entry-level Geppetto range (shiraz, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, sparkling), the Italian-varietal Pinocchio range (rosato, sangiovese, moscato, pinot grigio) or the Spanish-varietal Los Hermanos range (tempranillo, saludos, homenaje). As at many Peninsula wineries, the top-of-the-range wines are chardonnay and pinot noir. Tall windows give you a view out to the lawn and lake as you sip.
A private tasting room is also available for groups of up to 12; there’s a large table made from timber recycled from Mornington pier.
The property also has three self-contained villas, situated away from the cellar door, down on the lake. They’re often booked well in advance by wedding parties.