Named for the murnong (or yam daisy) indigenous to the area, Mickleham’s Marnong Estate is a 16-hectare winery and working farm – with roaming Angus cattle and alpacas – located just 35 minutes from the Melbourne CBD.
But as much as it’s a grape-growing destination, it’s also one for dining and drinking – with on-site accommodation – that has stunning views across the Macedon Ranges.
On the weekend, you can grab panini and arancini from Caffe Vista – with a bottle of award-winning pinot grigio or fiano from the cellar door, and a blanket from the farm shop – for a picturesque picnic on the lawns. There’s also Cucina 3064, a relaxed all-day eatery serving pasta and pizza. But the jewel in the crown is the elegant Italian diner La Vetta; it means “the peak” in Italian and sits at the top of the estate.
At La Vetta, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the front of the space, creating an infinity pool effect as the surrounding landscape almost seeps in. Tan-leather banquettes – with their tables – run alongside greenery-filled planters, which makes for two distinct and intimate dining areas. There’s also two private dining rooms on opposite sides of the restaurant, as well as a cocktail bar.
La Vetta’s menu centres around using traditional Italian cooking techniques alongside modern flavours. Burrata con giardiniera might make for a glistening, rich and creamy starter, while the ndunderi is a ricotta gnocchi tossed in pistachio pesto, and there’s a cheesy layered-up eggplant parmigiana.
Served on a chunky wooden board, the bistecca alla Fiorentina is a whopping one-kilo T-bone to be shared alongside woodfired potatoes or cauliflower. The signature dessert – an edible tuile coffee cup filled with coffee zabaglione – is hard to go past, but there’s also tiramisu-filled cannoli, and 36-month-aged parmigiano on the cheese board.
The accommodation is another drawcard at Marnong Estate. The restored homestead, settled between vineyards, cattle paddocks and gardens, has just four suites, or you can book out the entire property for you and your friends. Stay the night so you can sit by the fire and watch the sun set at the on-site restaurant with a glass of montepulciano, made from grapes grown a few metres away.
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