“It’s a fairly solid brigade,” says Ainslie Lubbock, listing the talent that has been rounded up for Point Leo Estate, the Mornington Peninsula’s newest cellar door.
Lubbock – the new restaurant manager – counts Attica, the Royal Mail Hotel and most recently Pei Modern as previous employers. Joining her is head chef Phil Wood, formerly of Rockpool and Eleven Bridge, and head sommelier Andrew Murch, who also worked at Rockpool, as well as the Stokehouse.
“The vision for Point Leo Estate has been a long time in the making,” says Lubbock. Owned by the Gandel family, the site overlooks Western Port Bay, and has had a working vineyard for 20 years.
“It was getting to the stage where the vines were producing real quality grapes. But also, over a long time, the family has had this great passion for sculpture. They’ve accumulated some really special pieces that they wanted to share,” Lubbock says.
The result is an ambitious mix of art, architecture, food and wine.
Melbourne-based architecture firm Jolson designed the curved, concrete monolith that houses the new restaurant and cellar door – its form inspired by the image of wine being poured into a glass. Visitors will enter through a main door and be faced with sweeping views of the water framed by large-scale sculptural works emerging from the green garden landscape.
“When you first arrive, the most stunning thing is this one piece of sculpture by Inge King, called Grand Arch,” says Lubbock. “Then, when you walk into the space, you’re hit by all three elements: vineyards on the left, amazing sculpture through the front door, and the dining room on the right.”
The sculpture garden has been curated by Geoffrey Edwards, the former director of Geelong Gallery and a former senior curator of international and Australian sculpture at the National Gallery of Victoria. He’s chosen to showcase local and international artists including Tony Cragg, George Rickey, Jaume Plensa, Lenton Parr and Andrew Rogers. Two serpentine paths guide visitors through the gardens – one is a 40-minute walk, the other takes around an hour and a half.
In the restaurant, guests can expect contemporary bistro plates designed for sharing, using local produce such as Cape Schanck Olive Oil, pork from Woolumbi Farm, and cheese from Main Ridge Dairy. The wine list will feature drops from Point Leo, and other local vineyards.
“It truly is sculpture, art and wine,” says Lubbock. “All three of those elements we’re doing at a level of excellence that we feel really proud of. We’re very mindful of our place in the world, and what surrounds us, and how to integrate all of that.”
Point Leo Estate will open on Wednesday October 25 at 3649 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks, Victoria. Open daily. More information here.