878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, VIC
03 5962 2119
Originally established in 1997 in the Macedon Ranges, Rochford Wines expanded five years later with the purchase of the Coldstream winery, Eyton on Yarra. This allowed Rochford to grow grapes in two different and distinct climates, broadening the range of wines it could offer to wine enthusiasts.
The acquisition of the Yarra Valley property, inclusive of the winery, vines, a restaurant and a café prompted the owner, Helmut Konecsny, to examine the diversification of not only the range of wines he could produce, but the dining and entertainment possibilities as well. With the dramatic Yarra Valley as a backdrop and panoramic views of the nearby ranges, Helmut decided to enhance the food and wine experience by developing and adding value to each division of the winery.
He has managed to do this as well as keeping the focus on the wine. With 15 hectares of exceptional soil, the perfect cool climate for growing chardonnay and pinot noir, Rochford’s senior winemaker, Marc Lunt, says that there isn’t much he needs to do to produce classic, textbook wines.
Marc says he takes a minimalist approach to winemaking. “I simply guide the winemaking process to let the wines express their individuality of site and season,” he said. Humble as he may be, Marc certainly has helped develop the overall philosophy at Rochford Wines. There is now a renewed focus on returning to traditional winemaking and sustainable viticulture practices within the vineyard. This has also coincided with the acquisition of another highly acclaimed vineyard in nearby Briarty Road.
Marc developed his oenological acumen during his younger days in South Australia. After classroom training at Charles Sturt University, he gained practical knowledge in various vineyards throughout the Barossa Valley before relocating to Victoria in 2004. While he expanded his understanding of the terroir of the Yarra Valley during this time, he also ventured abroad to diversify his oenological knowledge. The opposite growing season in the Northern hemisphere allowed the young winemaker to learn under world class vintners in Bordeaux as well as Burgundy during several vintages, while also upholding his responsibilities back in Australia.
The experience helped him formulate his stewardship approach to winemaking. “You don’t make the wine,” explains Marc, “you merely accompany it from vine to bottle.” As Rochford Wines continues to diversify its vineyards, he will certainly have plenty of varietals to guide on the journey.
Chefs are undoubtedly faced with growth in numerous aspects of their lives. In the most literal sense, their success is highly dependent on the growth of the ingredients they work with. The dishes they create are determined by Mother Nature’s ability to provide delicious, edible products on a regular basis.
Truly, without growth in the garden, farm, orchard, and vineyard, many chefs would be severely limited in their creations. In more of the abstract, chefs are also focused on their personal growth, striving to expand their culinary acumen to become more proficient in their craft. For the Head Chef at Rochford Wines’ Restaurant, Ciaran Butler, this certainly rings true.
“Continually, I look afresh at the range of seasonal possibilities,” the Galway, Ireland native says, “and that drives me to keep learning and experimenting with new cooking techniques.” Luckily for Ciaran, the region in which he seeks professional growth is happy to oblige with a wide array of ingredient options. Located in Coldstream, Rochford Wines is situated squarely in one of the most fertile regions of Australia, which it takes full advantage of, culinary and otherwise.
The restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week, endeavours to showcase the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley through the use of floor to ceiling windows as well as a comfortable patio area. Rochford Wines also hosts numerous events including weddings and gala dinners, which allow guests to experience the abundant produce from the area.
“My food philosophy is all about celebrating local produce and I certainly seek it out,” says the young chef. “We are indeed blessed with the choice in the Yarra Valley. 80% of my ingredients are produced locally.” And, of course, the other accompaniments for the dinner table – Rochford’s wines.
The restaurant relies on the viticulture side of the operation to ensure diners have appealing pairing options with their meal. And the variety of wine that Rochford produces, thanks to a range of varietals grown in vineyards in the Yarra Valley, allow for culinary creativity. Also, the collaboration between the kitchen and the vineyard helps to create innovative seasonal menus with a wide variety of dishes, such as the Kingfish Persillade, Herb Encrusted Rack of Lamb, and Assiette of Venison. But what about a signature dish?
“To nominate a certain dish with signature status is to restrict my growth as a chef. I am passionate about the craft,” says Ciaran, “It’s like an artist or performer declaring they have reached their goal, when in essence this indicates they may have set the bar too low.”
The Michelin star trained chef, with experience in various restaurants in Europe and Asia, seems to be growing quite well in the Yarra Valley, much like the ingredients he sources.
For centuries, wine has become synonymous with celebration, gracing the tables of weddings, raised in toast of birthday congratulations, and shared at the beginning of a new year. Wine brings people together to mark momentous occasions and express gratitude for life’s blessings. Even on the dinner table, families celebrate a nightly gathering to commune with one another. Indeed, wine helps us celebrate the good things in life. Nowhere may be more representative of this than at Rochford Wines in Coldstream.
The winery has harnessed the bounty of its vineyards in the Yarra Valley not only for the creation of delectable single vineyard wines but also to bring people together in celebration. Along with modern winemaking facilities, Rochford sports several components which showcase the stunning environment of the Yarra Valley including a restaurant, café and patio, cellar door, observation tower, and amphitheatre. These are even recognised as attractions in and of themselves.
The amphitheatre in particular has become a venue which attracts large crowds throughout the year. Beginning in 2004, Rochford has been one of the few venues in Victoria to play host to the increasingly popular “A Day on the Green” concert series, which features musical artists from Australia and around the world. Indeed, the winery has hosted a long list of international recording artists including Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, Hall & Oates, INXS, Meat Loaf, Steely Dan, Rod Stewart, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Jones, John Fogerty, and Lionel Richie. In addition, Rochford hosts festivals throughout the year such as the Wine Quest Cuban Jazz Festival and Rhythm & Vines festival.
The use of the venue extends beyond music concerts. Rochford offers guests its facilities for an array of special occasions including weddings, anniversaries, private performances, and corporate events. The winery also provides the option to utilise its experienced team to plan and arrange these events, helping clients with all of the relative aspects of large gatherings.
And for people that are looking for something out of the ordinary to enjoy with a glass of wine, Rochford has thought of them too. The winery has partnered with several companies to encourage different experiences not often associated with wineries. Jumping out of a plane would certainly qualify. The winery teams with Melbourne Skydive Centre to offer a package that includes a tandem skydive, 2-course lunch and a glass of wine. For those that enjoy aerial activities without the massive rush of adrenaline, Global Ballooning has an option more sedated. The one-hour balloon flight at dawn will certainly excite and inspire but will forego the heart-pounding free-fall back to the earth. And what better way to end the bird’s eye view of the Yarra Valley than a gourmet breakfast in Rochford’s Restaurant. For those content with keeping both feet firmly attached to terra firma, Segway Victoria has a way to pick up the heart rate without taking to the skies. The two-wheel off-road vehicles are a unique way to tour the grounds while learning about grape growing and wine production. The all-terrain tour also concludes with fare at the winery’s restaurant to allow customers a broader view of the vineyards.
Finally, for the culinary-minded, Rochford offers a Wine & Cheese Experience which will illustrate how wine pairs with either cheese, antipasto, or canapé, depending on guest preference. Yet, no matter what activity guests to Rochford engage in, it will be sure to celebrate the bounty of the Yarra Valley in all its forms.