There is nothing more satisfying than escaping the city life on a Friday afternoon for a weekend of pure gourmet food and wine indulgence. Think fresh local produce markets, cute cafes, cooking classes, boutique wineries, long lunches and evenings of fine dining at some of the county’s best restaurants. Louise Ryan from lastminute.com.au recommends her top gourmet weekend getaway destinations, all just a couple of hours from most Australian capital cities.
Just 1.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, is the sleepy seaside village of Killcare, home to award winning luxury retreat, Bells At Killcare.
This boutique property is also a gourmet hot spot thanks to its award winning onsite restaurant, Manfredi at Bells, the brainchild of Italian-born Stefano Manfredi, one of Australia’s most celebrated and influential chefs.
The irresistible menu is based on authenticity, simplicity and freshness, changing seasonally and inspired by the produce grown in the estate’s vegetable gardens.
For those who want to practice their MasterChef skills, Bells also offers cooking schools, hosted monthly by Manifredi at Bells chefs. Walk away from your weekend escape with new skills to try on friends and family, having served up anything from fresh pasta from scratch to traditional Italian stews or winter ragu.
Margaret River, WA
Only three hours’ drive from Perth, Margaret River is not only wine heaven, it’s also a gourmet foodies paradise. That’s double the reason to visit!
Spend your weekend wining and dining where the vineyards meet the sea. Many wineries have their own restaurants, providing picturesque settings for a long lazy lunch.
It’s also worth hitting up the Margaret River Farmers Markets (held every Saturday) and making your own picnic filled with fresh produce and local delicacies. To make your weekend a truly indulgent feast, spoil yourself and stay at (or at least visit) Cape Lodge.
Resembling a chateau in the South of France, this retreat is the ultimate weekend escape. The Cape Lodge Restaurant is the jewel in its crown, with an impressive stash of coveted awards including being voted in the top ten in the world for food in the Conde Naste Traveller’s Gold List.
Barossa Valley, SA
Hit the open road and head one hour out of Adelaide to the picturesque Barossa Valley where you can blissfully wine and dine your days away.
Visit the Barossa Farmers Markets. Held each Saturday from 7.30am, you will be able to get a taste of the regions freshest produce. Hot tip – spoil your tastebuds by trying some of the handmade artisan cheese – delicious!
Amongst the many wineries, there is so many top, quality restaurants in the Barossa, including the intimate Hentley Farm restaurant, located amongst the vines in elegant restored stables. Hentley Farm also just got named Winery of the Year at the 2015 Australian Wine Companion Awards, so make sure you visit the cellar door for a drop of vino.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland, QLD
When dreaming of a getaway in Queensland, usually a coastal beach style escape comes to mind. However, for a foodie weekend, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is one of Queensland’s best kept secrets.
Pay a visit to Woombye, the Sunshine Coast’s first major settlement near Nambour’s Big Pineapple, now the site of a thriving farmers’ market.
Stay at the ultra luxurious Spicers Peak Lodge beautifully located on a mountaintop, a world away from reality. For the ultimate in weekend indulgence visit the lodge’s chef hatted restaurant The Peak, where you’ll feast on locally produced, fresh seasonal dishes, matched with regional wines.
Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Just a couple of hours out of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a gourmet hotspot crammed with over 200 wineries and an abundance of delicious restaurants and local food produce outlets. From fresh strawberry picking, to breezy beach town cafes, to high-end hatted restaurants – the region has it all.
If you’re after something a bit special and want to treat a loved one, stay at Woodman Estate and try the breathtaking seven course degustation dinner. Set in a classic country hotel, the dinner showcases excellent local produce with high-end culinary flair and skill.
The Yarra Valley may be the first choice for wine tasting in Victoria, however the Mornington hinterland is a very pleasant surprise, especially when it comes to the regions pinot noir and chardonnay varieties. Our top winery picks include Foxeys Hangout, Montalto and Red Hill.
Mudgee is very quickly making a name for itself as one of NSW top food and wine destinations. The area is known for having some of the freshest produce in NSW, with their specialty being locally grown honey, olives, hazelnuts and venison prosciutto.Yum!
Given you’re in wine country, dine at one of the regions top wineries. Pipeclay Pumphouse is nestled in the beautiful, Robert Stein winery. With a paddock to plate philosophy, the menu is inspired by locally grown, free range produce. You can easily a long, lazy spend afternoon of grazing at this local hot spot.
After a long day of delish food and wine, retreat to any of the towns cute B&Bs, cottages or boutique hotels.
For more information or to plan your next gourmet escape visit www.lastminute.com.au