On the Queen’s birthday long weekend in June we headed to the King Valley for the Weekend Fit for a King festival. The festival promised we could:
- Taste alongside the winemaker,
- Explore the richness of the region, and
- Feast in authentic Italian style.
We managed to do all three, a few times over….
We left Melbourne on Saturday morning and made our way to the King Valley via lunch at Mawson’s bakery cafe in the main street of Euroa. We had simple chicken and salad rolls which were fresh and satisfying. It was a decent lunch stop with food service, although the wait to order was a bit long.
On our arrival in the King Valley we went first to La Cantina winery where there was wine tastings, live music and market stalls. For our pre purchased $25 festival ticket we picked up our festival wine glass to use for tastings at each participating winery, plus a wrist band to be worn for the weekend. We had a nice browse of the market stores purchasing some impressive dried tomato and olive dukkah from the Osborne Olives stall, and beautiful fudge from the Renaissance Chocolates stall.
After La Cantina we stopped into Dal Zotto where there was a bit of a party atmosphere happening in the tasting shed, making it hard to hear the tasting comments. Dal Zotto is famous for their Prosecco and we both really enjoyed it. Lastly we went to the small and quiet Darling Estate which was quiet but had a beautiful setting in the afternoon light.
That evening we went to the Pinsent hotel in Wangaratta for a Saturday night pub meal. It was very busy and we were lucky to get a table without a booking. We shared a salt and pepper prawn and calamari plate, and a chicken parma for dinner. While there was a good atmosphere in the pub, the food wasn’t the best pub meal we’ve had.
On Sunday morning we drove back to the King Valley, stopping in at the King Valley diary. There was a nice small shop and some butter tastings but not much else to see. We then drove to Chrismont winery which has a stunning building with a lovely outlook high up on the hill overlooking the vines. They seemed a little disorganised in the restaurant and it was hard to order a coffee, but eventually we ordered and sat in the sun on the balcony. Here was a stream of people coming in – it was obviously a popular place to be.and it was good to get there early.
At lunchtime we went to Politini winery where we met our friends Elise and Andrew and their two month old baby. We had a lovely afternoon sitting under the tree, tasting their wines, and successfully feasting in authentic Italian style.
Three of our meals were fantastic while one was a bit disappointing, however we enjoyed them enough to go back for desserts.
Afterwards we dropped into Pizzini winery which was very large and very busy and was another winery with a party atmosphere.
We didn’t stay long, just enough for some wine tasting and a shared ice cream. On our way back to Wangaratta we stopped at Milawa cheese company for some cheese tastings and a few purchases, then ended our afternoon at Sam Miranda as our final winery for the day. Most people had already left, but there had a cozy set up with some open fire pits and mulled wine on the stove so we stayed on for awhile and enjoyed a lovely colourful sunset.
On Monday we went into Wangaratta to get a coffee and ended up at Cafe the preVue which seemed the most popular place to be in town that morning. Being popular basically meant it was the “place to be seen” resulting in the service being quite slow and the place uncomfortably busy. However it was in a nice location and we had an enjoyable walk along the paths and bridges over the Ovens river afterwards.
After coffee we drove back to the King Valley and this time to Gracebrook winery. The cellar door and restaurant is housed in the historic Gracebrook stables which were built over 110 years ago. It is a lovely location and would be a fabulous place for lunch, in fact they were fully booked for lunch the day we were there which was a shame.
Instead we went to the Mountain View pub for lunch, a self titled “boutique gastro-pub” with a kitchen of international chefs. The bar and eating area itself was fairly basic, and the service was generally good except that we only found out that they were out of their signature pork knuckle dish when we were at the counter to order. Despite that, our meals were enjoyable and it was a good lunch.
To work off lunch we drove out to Paradise falls and had a lovely walk down to see them. The falls run off a spectacular rock formation and it was well worth the effort.
On our way back to Wangaratta we stopped at our last winery for the weekend, Brown Brothers. We felt we couldn’t have a wine weekend in the area without visiting Brown Brothers at least once while we were there. Their set up was impressive including a large tasting room with a huge fireplace, and a lovely grass area set up for lounging. We had some tastings and were impressed with the range and quite enjoyed a few of them.
On our final morning we drove to Beechworth and had breakfast at Peddlar cafe. We had walked the two main strips of shops and decided that Peddlar had the most appeal. We had a lovely breakfast – we shared the Persian scrambled eggs and the french toast. The service was fabulous and we rated it highly, even staying on to have donuts with Elise and Andrew when they joined us.
On the drive back to Melbourne we stopped at Burger Me in Seymour for lunch. It’s a road side stop which does a large range of burgers and fries and is very popular with the passing traffic.
Finally, for our last stop for the weekend we went to Mork Chocolate in North Melbourne for a drink and a piece of cake. I’d been keen to try the campfire hot chocolate and it didn’t disappoint. The hot chocolate was enjoyable, but the experience really made it special.