Our drive to Russo Estate Winery in Diggers Rest could not have taken place on a better day in October, as Melbourne finally starting stirring from the gloomy depths of Winter, and temperatures soared gracefully to the high 20s, so that our 30 minute road trip to the Northwest rim of Melbourne was blessed with rolling blue skies and the dry breeze of Summer.
Russo Estate Winery, having won the 2019 AGFG (Australian Good Food Guide) Reader’s Choice award and a plethora of wedding destination awards, is an expansive winery, restaurant and wedding venue, surrounded by sweeping green plains and dotted with their newly installed, igloo-esque glamping huts.
At first glance, one is drawn to the soon-to-be, rose covered bridal arches, the soothing splashes of the waterfall installation, and of course, the floor to ceiling glass windows panelling the restaurant to overlook the grapevines. But it’s only after listening to the small, inconspicuous details that the owner, Joe Russo, mentions, that makes Russo Estate uniquely capture a certain homely and considered quality. From the copper aged wall, to the bar stands on top of used wine barrels, and the rocks amassed by Joe himself to construct the waterfall – Russo Estate is a beautiful location that certainly makes for a special wedding location, or even just a treat yourself luncheon.
We couldn’t go past trying the wines from Russo Estate. Having planted the vines in the 1990s, Joe speaks highly of his new season Howdini Rosé Cabernet 2019, which is certainly more full-bodied than a usual rosé, and his Green Leaf Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (FIND IT HERE) – personally, as a huge fan of whites, the fruity refreshing nature of this wine seems as if it was made just for slowly sipping whilst sitting on an outdoor deckchair, watching the reddish orange hues of dusk as the sun dips below the horizon over Russo Estate. But our favourite was the Green Leaf Cabernet/Shiraz 2008 (FIND IT HERE) a unique red wine with subdued tannins that even made someone like me, enjoy a glass of red.
We began with the chef’s selection of entrees – from the juicy garlic prawns, to the crumbly coating of the tempura-like cauliflower, the rich smoothness of mushroom parfait on warm crisp pita – none of us could really fault it.
But the star of the meal was by far the Hervey Bay Scallops – the combination of the freshest, high quality scallops, and the perfected cooking technique meant we were rewarded with some of the juiciest scallops I’ve had, which made me fall in love with seafood all over again.
After such an impressive start, we couldn’t wait to get started on the mains. The braised pork ribs, not surprisingly, fell off the bone, and the sticky caramelised sauce was cut back by the light coleslaw.
Another dish drawing upon Asian influences was the curry salmon – I couldn’t decide if it was the incredibly fleshy pink salmon, or the tempura prawn that I enjoyed more, but both were perched on a soft fluffy bed of steaming rice and a light curry sauce.
The lamb shoulder finished off our trio of mains – it goes without saying that the chef at Russo Estate has mastered the art of flawless textures, but it’s the small, clever elements on the side of these mains, such as the lamb-aroma-soaked potato, and the onion rings with the pork (my guiltiest pleasure!) – which gives diners such a unique and enthralling restaurant experience.
A special shout out to the stir-fried chilli broccolini, which my friend just couldn’t stop eating so enthusiastically – that just elevated our meal to the next level!
By the time desserts came around, we were already so pleased with our mains, there couldn’t really be a more simple, satisfying ending. The gooey caramel satisfaction of a sticky date pudding that just pulls back on the sweetness is something I’ve grown to indulge on. The wobbly panna cotta encircled by a moat of fresh berries was a cool, smooth contrast to the pudding.
So what was supposed to be a 2 hour lunch sandwiched between 2 nearby hikes in the Lederderg/Diggers Rest area in country Victoria, turned into a 5 hour rest and recuperate lunch during our holidays, amidst the sprawling greenery of Russo Estate, with elegant wines, delicious food, and of course, spent with the best company of friends. Thank you to Russo Estate for such an enriching and memorable experience – my second ever winery, that I definitely won’t be forgetting for a very long time.
CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE OF RUSSO ESTATE WINERY HERE!
2wofatgirls would like to thank Russo Estate Winery, Diggers Rest for the invitation to dine – these opinions are strictly unbiased and were influenced in no way by the collaboration.