A newly-renovated cellar door modelled on the quintessential Aussie shed and using upcycled materials has opened at Fowles Wine in the Strathbogie Ranges, 90 minutes from Melbourne.
Everything from the design through to the menu captures the essence of the Australian landscape, yet with a modern edge.
Keeping in with the Fowles way of doing things, this new project has been something of a family affair with the interior styling designed and executed by Jay Phillips, long-term partner to Matt’s brother, Jim.
“Across the Australian landscape, our land is dotted with corrugated iron sheds. We have taken a simple shed and created a beautiful restaurant and cellar door within its shell, without losing the shed’s heritage,” Jay says.
“When you visit, look up and see the galvanised corrugated ceiling, reminiscent of the humble shed.
“But look a bit closer and you will see that we have cleverly engineered it to make it an acoustic ceiling for our customers to enjoy a pleasant dining experience.”
Fowles Wine chief executive officer Matt Fowles says he wanted to incorporate disused objects from around Victorian farms that would otherwise have ended up in landfill.
“We have been on an amazing journey across the Victorian countryside sourcing objects,” Matt says.
For instance, a 90-year-old rusty fence has been used to create 36 rolled fencing-wire light features in the Wine Shed function space, while disused old hard wood droppers, piled up under the shade of the gums beside the vines, have been repurposed as restaurant tables.
“It’s been a fun and very creative journey for us all,” Matt says.
Matt and Jay also scoured Victoria to find vintage sinks – “like what our grandmothers used to wash their clothes in” – which have been repurposed as vanities in the bathrooms. One was sourced from a collapsed gold miners’ pit in Warrandyte, another from a horse paddock in Macedon and another from the Dandenong Ranges.
Another key feature is a custom-built sofa lounge, modelled on old wool bales.
“The venue needed a place where people could relax and enjoy the space, much like shearers, who, after returning from a hard day’s work on the farm, would generally collapse on the wool bales and enjoy a drink or two,” Jay says.
“We created a modernistic view of these jumbled-up bales as a custom-built sofa lounge in front of a large open fireplace, in tribute to the shearing shed.”
The cellar door will also feature a new tasting bar where you can enjoy a view of the Strathbogie Ranges while exploring the extensive range of Fowles Wine. A glass hall connects to the tasting bar, featuring floor to ceiling windows and booth seating that looks out onto the courtyard and kids’ playground.
The kitchen is spearheaded by head chef Adele Aitken, with an emphasis on farm and game meats and ingredients from the local region; the same region that fruit for Fowles’ wine is sourced. The menu centres around wholesome produce and dishes that reflect the authentic country style of the region, from light salads, cheese and charcuterie right through to comforting larger plates.
The main restaurant overlooks the chef’s herb garden and a feasting area where groups can gather on long picnic tables underneath a vine covered arbour and spit-roast a pre-ordered lamb from the Fowles farm. This is ideal for hearty family get-togethers or a Sunday lunch with a difference.
A separate private dining room, accommodating up to 20 guests, is available for intimate functions or dining reservations. The room features a bespoke ceiling feature modelled on ancient fish traps. Made from rusted metal and willow branches, it has been created to reflect Matt and his wife Lu’s hunter-gatherer principles.
“The family aren’t just wine producers, but passionate farmers and hunter-gatherers, so we have shown this farming story throughout,” Jay says.
The new site also includes a Farm Store showcasing premium pre-packaged meals and local produce including Fowles Wine’s own range of Small Batch products.
Fowles Wine is located in the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges, an area blessed with the perfect combination of granitic soil and a cool climate – the ideal conditions for producing wine with character and elegance.
Matt and his team, including winemakers Victor Nash and Lindsay Brown, create four distinct categories of wine – Vineyard, Hunting, Farming and Experimental – all of which can be tasted at cellar door.