Gundowring Fine Food
1350 Gundowring Road, Gundowring, VIC
02 6027 5240
Ice cream comes in many alluring flavours - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, sticky date, shiraz and black pepper; even blue cheese - at least it does if you purchase Gundowring Fine Foods' products. This family-run business works with nature to produce common as well as unusual varieties of ice cream, often with the inspiration of local chefs who might suggest a unique flavour to accompany their cuisine.
The idea of ice cream production came to Stephen Crooke one day in 2003 as he was standing waist-deep in a New Zealand river. He had been running a dairy farm that he took over from his parents in Gundowring for over 25 years and he felt that he needed to branch into something new. He went home and told his wife, Sarah, about the new venture idea, and later that same year their first batch of ice cream was sold at a farmer’s market and quickly gained popularity. Production continues today under his son, James, and his wife, although all family members get in on the act at some stage.
Having a herd of highly contented cows producing excellent quality milk is the all-important base for Gundowring’s ice cream, but as the family will firmly attest it is also the excellent produce that comes from the Kiewa Valley that makes the difference. “We aim to highlight that we are making a REAL product, using real ingredients, and from our own region where possible,” James said. “We are about quality, not quantity.” The quality shows through with most flavours having received some type of award, with licorice and ginger having won Australia’s best overall dairy product in 2010. The licorice is sourced from Junee.
But just as the Crooke family takes from nature, they are also committed to giving back through a revegetation program and protecting wildlife habitats and wetlands. The Gundowring operation has a minimal ecological footprint with an increasing dependence on solar power, using rainwater whenever possible, and treating waste water so it can be used for revegetation purposes. Also, much of the packaging is biodegradable and composted with natural waste such as fruit stems and pips.
Gundowring is a company that prides itself on listening to its customers and welcomes suggestions or inquiries on its website. Unfortunately, tours of the operation are not possible due to the constant beehive of activity performed by the family members who would be aghast at seeing a visitor take a tumble into a vat of ice cream during all the goings to and fro. On the bright side, their products are widely available in Victoria, New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and Tasmania.