You can smell wood-fire as soon as you get out of your vehicle at Shaw Vineyard Estate. This cool climate winery is located in Murrumbateman, right between Canberra and Yass.
You’re in luck if your vehicle happens to be a Tesla, as they’ve thoughtfully provided two charging stations in a tumbledown shack. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of old meeting new.
The equally picturesque corrugated iron shearing shed is also dual purpose, interspersing the serious estate business of shearing sheep, with time as a pop-up art gallery; showcasing the neighbour’s artistic endeavours against the heady waft of lanolin.
We take a winding path past a row of sulphur-crested cockatoo sculptures on fence-posts, and blooming gardens alive with buzzing bees, to arrive at the main building.
Edged with neat green hedges, the large verandah is humming with people. We’ve arrived to check out the Estate’s new restaurant, Olleyville, smack in the middle of the 2017 Murrumbateman Moving Feast.
Luckily this restaurant (which replaces Flint in the Vines) is in the experienced hands of Create Consultants. They're an events and catering company who are destination specialists, responsible for the food at the Australian War Memorial, Sydney Observatory and the Australian Museum. With just four weeks in this space, they’ve made some minor changes to the cavernous room that hint towards a more homely, rustic vibe.
Brown Chesterfield leather lounges arranged around a lit fireplace, function as the room’s centerpiece if you can drag yourself away from the beaming sun outdoors. The restaurant is still sharing the space with the Shaw Vineyard Estate’s cellar door (though there are plans afoot for this to change). This affords you good tasting opportunities - at the counter you can taste the 2014 Shaw Reserve Isabella Riesling ($57/bottle) for five bucks. With 20 grams of residual sugar this off-dry Riesling makes for a lovely afternoon wine, but sadly it wasn't available by the glass in the winery's restaurant.
I bought a bottle to take home, and made do with the 2016 Estate Riesling ($10/glass) against Sydney Rock Oysters ($22/dozen). Pomelo pieces are a lovely touch on this oyster plate. They contrast well with tight, briny oysters procured from Narooma, just three hours away on the coast. Shucking to order is only way I could see to improve this dish, ensuring the oysters land with more liquor, but on the Murrumbateman Moving Feast weekend I can understand why this wasn’t the case.
Local Charcuterie ($18.50) produces a rustically arranged plate of cold meats, crackers, pickles and olives. It sits well against the stamped brown paper table toppers, which give the restaurant’s tables a bespoke artisan look very cheaply. We tuck into the farmhouse style chunky salami and super-smoky leg ham, punctuated by great pickles. The only weak links on the plate were an unremarkable prosciutto and the olives.
Orecchiette ($19.50) with a mushroom medley and aged Parmesan is well cooked and tasty.
The creamy cheese sauce begs you to order a Rustic Bread Basket ($6.50) to scrape up any remainder, and the bread arrives with great olive oil, too. With the by-the-glass list being disappointing, we move onto a Pact Mount Tennant Pale Ale ($8.50). It’s a pretty American pale ale that throws honey and hoppy floral notes, and it’s made just fifty clicks down the road in Fyshwick.
The summery, sessionable beer suits Wood Fired Garlic Prawns ($14) presented cold in a salad with pomelo, coconut and snapping fresh green leaves. These likeable garlicky prawns are another example of a please-all menu that the chef can turn out quickly, even with the whole restaurant full. Mark it down as a pit stop next time you're off to Canberra.
Shaw Vineyard Estate
34 Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman
Ph: (02) 6227 5144