The doors to the new Bonnie eatery are open at All Saints Estate. The pizza oven is firing, wine is flowing, and families are enjoying the simple yet beautifully curated food and wine combination in the Rutherglen wine region.
But for the All Saints Estate team, this is only the beginning.
The Wahgunyah winery has embarked on a $2 million renovation project to bring an all-encompassing wine and dining experience to its venue in the heart of the Rutherglen wine region.
While many businesses put expansion plans on hold during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the siblings and owners at All Saints Estate took a different approach. Eliza, Nick and Angela Brown, from the famous winemaking family, found themselves dreaming of what they could offer when the world reopened.
“Having an international-standard food and wine experience has always been a dream,” said Eliza Brown, director. “We really want to deliver a visitor experience to match our high-quality wines and draw people up from the city and from overseas to see everything the region has to offer.”
Supported by $500,000 in Victorian Government funding, the siblings started working with Techne Architects on plans to upgrade the cellar door, rebuild the celebrated Terrace Restaurant, and replace the Indigo Food Co with a new casual eatery, Bonnie.
“When we had the dream at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we never believed we would be breaking ground while still in a pandemic,” Eliza said.
Fast forward two years (and a few lockdowns) and in March 2022, the team opened the doors to stage one: Bonnie.
Named for the winery’s Scottish heritage and set within the old bottling building next to the castle, Bonnie brings a new casual offering that caters for families and friends.
The menu is simple and local. Think wood-fired pizzas, salads, charcuterie, and cheese. Local produce is the hero of every dish, whether it’s Milawa blue cheese, Mount Ophir Estate olives or Gundowring ice-cream. Drinks are chosen to be approachable with wines from the Browns’ St Leonards Vineyard label and beers from Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth.
And as a charming nod to their family-owned heritage, every pizza is named after a young member of the Brown family.
“Bonnie is all about bringing a family friendly experience to the estate with good food, approachable wines and a great relaxed atmosphere,” said Eliza.
Now Bonnie is up and running, work has started on phase two: a destination dining restaurant and Cellar Door.
The marquee that previously housed Terrace restaurant has already been demolished and construction is underway on an extension to the heritage-listed castle.
A new restaurant named ‘KIN’, expanding from 72 seats to 126 seats, will feature two walls of glass, enabling diners to take in sweeping views of the estate. After dinner, they can retire to the suspended firepit with a glass of Muscat.
At the same time, the cellar door is being completely reimagined to blur the line between a wine tasting space and a more relaxed wine bar, encouraging people to socialise and unwind over an entire afternoon or evening.
A bullnose-shaped white terrazzo bar will be the focus, designed to allow visitors to see the colour of the wines while tasting. Large tables will host seated bookable tastings for groups of friends and family, while loyal Wine Royalty members can enjoy the exclusivity of a new private tasting room.
The cellar door will also include a new retail area with interactive displays to share the stories on family, winemaking, and viticulture. New release wines will be on display alongside vintage wines, some of which have been housed in the family cellar since the 1960s.
The biggest challenge of this project, according to Eliza, is ensuring the authenticity of the castle remains while modernising it to provide an exceptional experience – something they have entrusted Techne Architects to deliver.
When KIN and cellar door are unveiled in July, All Saints Estate will become a must-see destination for visitors to the wine region.
“By expanding our dining options and enhancing our cellar door experience, we hope to attract visitors from across Australia and the world, lift the profile of Rutherglen and inject more energy into the region.”