We visit some amazing destinations on our sightseeing and Food and Wine Tours of the Bellarine, Mornington Peninsula and around the bay. One such spectacular place is Jack Rabbit Vineyard on the Bellarine where we have lunch on our food and wine tour and also a wine tasting on our sightseeing tour. We decided to catch up with Lyndsay to learn all about this fantastic location.
EA: Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your story?
Lyndsey: My background is marketing and PR and a lot of that's in food and wine. David, my husband and I, purchased Leura Park Estate originally in 2007 and then in 2010 we purchased what was Kilgour Estate and turned it into Jack Rabbit. So it's come a long way since then. 2010 was a big year all round – we also started Flying Brick Cider!
EA: Wow you've been busy! Can you tell us a bit about Jack Rabbit and its History?
Lyndsey: We purchased what was Kilgour Estate in 2010 and transformed it into Jack Rabbit which included knocking down the original old restaurant, building a new restaurant and also building the House of Jack Rabbit, which is the cellar door and café style area of the venue.
EA: What wines are available in your range?
Lyndsey: We've got quite an extensive range of wines all grown and crafted on The Bellarine. All up we've got just over 150 acres of vines across The Bellarine. The Jack Rabbit stable of wines includes Sparkling Blanc De Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Shiraz as well as a sparkling Cabernet Reserve. Oh, and Frizzante, which is our cheeky little Moscato style.
EA: Do you have a personal favourite?
Lyndsey: Ha! It depends what time of day it is and what I'm eating. I would always start off with sparkling and then depending on the weather, I would usually tend towards a Grigio, Riesling or Chardy. With the reds, my go to is Pinot Noir.
EA: Do you prefer drinking on a cold day by an open fire, or on a sunny day in the sunshine?
Lyndsey: Oh, it kind of depends, they're both good. In the colder months, yes by the fire with a nice Pinot or Shiraz, in the sunny months, outside with a crispy Riesling or Chardonnay, it doesn't get much better.
EA: Oh yeah. Can you tell us a bit about some of the fantastic things available on your menu.
Lyndsey: Some of the fantastic things available on the menu - sure can! Well, in the House of Jack Rabbit, there are always iconic Portarlington mussels available, and they're delivered fresh daily. You can see them from outside, just down in the bay. They're funnily enough, always in a delicious variation of a wine sauce. And that changes daily as well, so it might be red wine, tomato-based, garlic and lots of herbs, or possibly an asian-type herbaceous fusion with white wine and cream. But always delicious..
We've just launched the new House of Jack Rabbit menu, so some delicious standards apart from the mussels are lentil and pea salad, crispy pork belly, Lebanese grilled chicken, and one of the very most popular items is Prawn Linguine, which is sensational.
The Restaurant is contemporary fine dining, and a fabulous menu is available there under the helm of our Executive Chef, Dwayne Bourke. It really is an all-round sensory experience – with Menu items such as Entrée - Local cuttlefish, rouille, lemon, fennel, peas, seaweed salt and Main - Bellarine Beef eye fillet, kohlrabi fondant, onion puree, charred spring onion, watercress, red wine jus and more.
EA: My favourite thing is definitely the Portarlington mussels. Do you have a particular favourite to indulge in?
Lyndsey: Oh, it's hard to go past the Portarlington mussels, but when dining in the ‘House of Jack Rabbit’, I'm pretty keen on the Prawn Linguine as well.
EA: What facilities and amenities are available to the guests?
Lyndsey: We've got two venues on site, the Jack Rabbit Restaurant which is contemporary fine dining. So that can seat comfortably up to 120 people, and it's got a beautiful deck that overlooks the bay across to Melbourne and the You Yangs and beyond. And the other facility here is the House of Jack Rabbit, which is the cellar door and café. When it gets really busy we open up what we call ‘Creepy Shed’ (which is actually not at all creepy!) for large groups and wine tastings.
EA: Does the helicopter pad get much use?
Lyndsey: Yes it does, actually. We get a lot of tour groups coming in and work with quite a few companies. Usually from Melbourne, they fly across the bay, down over the Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles, and then fly back, land and have lunch at the restaurant before flying back over the water to Melbourne. So it's a pretty special day out.
EA: Would you say there's a best time to visit Jack Rabbit?
Lyndsey: Oh, look it's always beautiful - in the warmer months, or on still days, you could be anywhere in Europe as you span your eyes across the beautiful bay and beyond. But it's just as stunning often in the middle of winter with dark clouds rolling across the sea. It’s always a beautiful vista.
EA: What do you think makes Jack Rabbit so unique?
Lyndsey: It really is an experience for all the senses. I think you've got unparalleled views, you've got amazing food, great wine, and pretty special ambience all round.
EA: Do you have any advice for people that are visiting?
Lyndsey: Book. Definitely book, because we hate to disappoint people, and we do get very busy. Although we'll always try to accommodate, it's not always possible in the busy times of the year and we hate disappointing people.