FOOD & WINE
Get the Scoop on Gelato
Sydney's cult gelateria Gelato Messina has grown into an ice-cream empire that stretches from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. Customers queue down the street for Messina’s sometimes crazy, always delicious handcrafted flavour combinations, with clever names to match – think Robert Brownie Junior and Candy Warhol. Book a group of up to 25 people into a not-so-corporate gelato appreciation class in Rosebery, New South Wales, and Fitzroy, Victoria, for the chance to sample some of Messina’s bestsellers and latest creations. In Sydney, participants can even go head to head in teams as they create the most spectacular ice-cream desserts led by Messina’s expert chefs.
Shake it up with boutique gin
Four Pillars is at the forefront of the boutique distillery wave sweeping Australia, opening its Yarra Valley gin distillery to the public in 2015. Four Pillars offers a unique alternative to a wine-tasting experience for groups of up to 25 people. You can take a tour with distiller Cameron MacKenzie and meet Wilma the gleaming copper pot still; discover the native and traditional botanicals that flavour the blends; and sample delicious concoctions like the Rare Dry, Barrel Aged and Spiced Negroni gins. Then retire to the bar or a private area for a G&T tasting paddle or a build-your-own negroni. You can also create your own custom-designed blend to bottle and take home, using Eileen – that’s the new small-batch still.
A taste of sustainable food and wine
Sustainable chef Matt Stone (formerly of Silo and Greenhouse) and his sous-chef and partner Jo Barrett took over the kitchen at the Yarra Valley’s acclaimed Oakridge winery in July 2015, and the praise has been flowing ever since. Along with a spot-on, hyper-local menu in the clean, contemporary restaurant overlooking the vines, Matt now oversees a produce garden, a mill for grinding grains in-house and an aquaculture system. This new focus means that groups can enjoy some out-of-the-box food experiences, such as pickling classes and an introduction to Indigenous ingredients. Just as impressive are the winery’s group offerings, including grape-stomping, tours, blind tastings and masterclasses, and a flexible function space for groups of 15 to 150.
A sample of Tassie’s best
Tasmania’s Bruny Island is known as much for its produce as its wild natural beauty. The Bruny Island Traveller tour for groups of up to 60 is the ideal way to experience all this little piece of paradise has to offer, including transport from Hobart and six courses of food throughout the day. Start with a tasting platter and a tour led by one of the cheesemakers at Bruny Island Cheese Co., then sample ocean-fresh oysters at Get Shucked Oyster Farm and a luscious Devonshire tea on a berry farm. Lunch is served at Bruny Island Premium Wines, with a glass of your favourite wine from the tasting session, then finish the day with freshly made fudge and a whisky tasting. In between, you’ll take in the island’s untouched beaches, rainforest and wildlife, including the rare white wallaby.
Go in search of boutique brews
The burgeoning interest in craft beer in Australia and around the world has led to huge growth in the number of small breweries in Sydney, so Dave Phillips has a ready source of new discoveries for Dave’s Brewery Tours, ideal for groups of up to 100. During the tour, you’ll be introduced to three carefully chosen breweries, from Manly’s 4 Pines to the tiniest one-man shows such as Marrickville’s BlackFont – and you’ll learn the techniques and stories behind each. There are plenty of tastings and lunch at an iconic Aussie pub along the way. For larger groups and conferences, Dave can bring the beer to you for on-site tastings. Partner tour companies also operate in Melbourne and Brisbane.