You couldn’t ask for a more breathtaking setting than Yarra Valley winery Domaine Chandon. Nestled between mountains, lush swathes of grapevines and the shade of its titular 160-year oak, the winery’s Oak Tree Lawn feels less like a spot to drop into and more like an artistic vision. Especially after a year in which visitors were mostly unable to access the site in Coldstream.
Its lush setting was just one motivator behind the longtime destination winery’s decision to introduce a new summer picnic concept. Chandon Garden Grazing is a socially-distanced successor to last summer’s French-inspired picnic series, Pique-Nique.
Garden Grazing welcomes groups of two to eight guests to the lawn across two unhurried sessions, to feast on picnic boxes boasting the best local produce, and sample sparkling wine – both on its own and in the form of seasonal cocktails.
“We’ve revamped our picnic concept for a new version this year,” says the label’s marketing manager Georgia Maddern. “An alternative to indoor dining, it’s a luxe, laidback dining experience on the lawn.”
This includes individual group “pods” decked out with woven mats, chairs, pillows and other attractive accoutrements. Launched in early December, the levelled-up picnic experience runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through until the end of February, with sessions available for either brunch (11am) or lunch (2pm).
The grazing-style picnic boxes feature cheeses from nearby Stone and Crow Cheese Company, yoghurt from Meredith, butter from Fitzroy, chicken from the Bendigo area, and a wide variety of local fruit, berries, and veggies.
“We want to highlight freshness, and a relaxed, easy-to-share style of dining,” says executive chef Josh Smyth, who designed the grazing-style food boxes that include the likes of sourdough baguette, shaved prosciutto, asparagus and goat cheese quiche, and the roasted Hazeldene chicken with shaved cabbage and sesame slaw. Dessert comes as housemade offerings of chocolate brownie and almond-and-berry cake.
Priced at $80 per person and stretching more than two hours, the grazing sessions’ include a complete food box and cocktail of your choice on arrival, “so people can try a bit of everything,” says Smyth.
While Domaine Chandon’s signature sparkling wine is a main drawcard, the series also reimagines the beverage as a versatile hero for a range of bubbly summer cocktails. “One is a lemon-lime spritz with a zesty ball of sorbet in the middle,” says Maddern. “We’ve got a sparkling Negroni as well, which is deliciously bitter and tastes super refreshing.” Both cocktails highlight Chandon Blanc de Blancs.
With pairings in mind, Smyth devised the menu to suit the wine and cocktails. Visitors are welcome to simply enjoy the the hilltop garden bar, which will open for wine and cocktails alike for the day’s duration.
The setting’s perennial appeal is the kind of lush, rolling backdrop many Melburnians have been missing out on for most of the past year. “We want to invite people to come and sit outside and experience our beautiful natural landscape, in a space we are fortunate to call home for Chandon,” says Maddern.
Domaine Chandon’s Garden Grazing runs until February 28, 2021. Book a spot and find out more at Chandon Garden Grazing.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Domaine Chandon.