Jack Rabbit Vineyard
85 McAdams Ln, Bellarine
03 5251 2223
85 McAdams Lane has always had a special place in the hearts of David and Lyndsay Sharp. Home to Kilgour Estate for 17 years, they recognised the potential of the winery and restaurant, and declared that if it ever came on the market, its purchase would be a dream come true.
In 2010, their dream became a reality and Jack Rabbit was born. The property is now home to a winery, restaurant, cafe and Cellar Door, resulting in a sprawling estate that welcomes thousands of locals and visitors through its doors every month.
David and Lyndsay are no strangers to the hospitality game. They took a leap of faith on their first vineyard, Leura Park Estate, in 2007 and added another notch to their belt with Jack Rabbit three years later. They’ve since expanded the empire even further, creating Flying Brick Cider Co. at the end of 2014. The dynamic duo makes the perfect team – Lyndsay is responsible for everything front of house, including sales, marketing and the venues, while David tends to the vineyard, winery and finances.
Lyndsay was also responsible for the moniker: “I wanted something different – contemporary, strong and memorable, yet simultaneously signifying quality and finesse, which is very much what the Jack Rabbit experience is all about – great food, wines and ambience,” she said.
She couldn’t have chosen better. Also referred to as the ‘darling of the Bellarine’, Jack Rabbit features stunning panoramic views across the vineyards and bay to Melbourne, the You Yangs, Geelong and beyond. The experience is completed with approachable and contemporary seasonal menus across two venues and some of the best wines in the region, making for one memorable culinary experience.
The property is split into two areas: Jack Rabbit Vineyard Restaurant, and the House of Jack Rabbit. The Vineyard Restaurant is a sophisticated and stylish sensory experience, with a French Provincial ambience. It was specifically designed to encourage long and lavish afternoons, with a spacious deck overlooking spectacular sunsets and a fireplace for the colder months.
David Warmisham is the Executive Chef. His life-long affair with food started 22 years ago, as an apprentice at Sails Beach Cafe Restaurant in Noosa. He then moved south, joining The Beach House in Geelong, where he was quickly promoted to Head Chef. He joined the Jack Rabbit team in 2008, becoming the creative force behind the seasonal menu and developing relationships with local producers to ensure only the freshest ingredients are used.
Seafood comes from around the bay, with everything from Portarlington mussels to local snapper. Pork comes courtesy of Western Plains, eggs from Kossies free-range eggs and Hopkins River supplies the beef. The kitchen team even uses wild herbs and flowers from a farmer down the road.
This dedication to fresh produce results in flavours and textures that shine on the plate. As the menu is seasonal, dishes are always changing, but the same sophistication and finesse apply. You may find yourself starting with the crispy Western Plains pork, served with Roquefort cheese, pickled carrot, nashi fruit and red wine caramel, or the Bellarine smokehouse mussels, accompanied by chargrilled cucumber, a Flying Brick cider, a thyme and confit garlic sauce, hydroponic tomatoes and local wild herbs.
For something a little larger, you might find something like confit pumpkin with smoked ricotta, cherry tomato, local saltbush, poached egg and sage, or the Wild Clover lamb, served with cauliflower cheese, green pea gnocchi and a jus.
Considering the restaurant is located on the vineyard, it would be a missed opportunity not to try a drop or two. The two hectares of vines are equally planted with pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, so why not try the 2011 Jack Rabbit Heritage Reserve Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon with your fare? There’s also a riesling, chardonnay, rosé, shiraz and merlot on offer, meaning there’s a pairing for every dish.
If Jack Rabbit Vineyard Restaurant is the refined venue, then House of Jack Rabbit is the relaxed little brother. It offers the same amazing views, but espouses casual and industrial chic, with a cafe-style menu, a Cellar Door and lots of room for the kids to run around.
Pop by for the panko-crumbed squid with a Mediterranean vegetable salad, fries and aioli, or try Jack’s Fiery Burger – a mouth-watering combination of a house-made beef patty, caramelised onion, roasted capsicum, Swiss cheese, jalapeño chilli and hot sauce.
After dining, head around to the Provedore, where you can find a range of local oils, preserves and teas, or have a chat to the staff about a guided wine tasting – after all, when in Rome!
Jack Rabbit is an all-inclusive venue. Between the polished Vineyard Restaurant and comfortable House of Jack Rabbit, there’s something for every occasion and every palate. If that wasn’t enough, the breathtaking panoramic views make it the prettiest place to spend an afternoon.