Fresh Bounty for all Seasons
Spring is a time of plenty and promise. As the winter gives way to warm sunny days, see the bright patchwork of yellow canola fields appear. The first berries appear. Green shoots can be seen in the vineyards as the vines burst their buds and flowers and spring vegetables appear at farm gate stalls.
Summer is all about being outdoors. All the berry farms have opened and their sweet juicy berries are ripe for the picking. The lush emerald green of the vineyards become more distinctive as the land around slowly turns a golden brown. People clamour for outdoor tables and chairs at cafés and restaurants to soak in the warm days, mild evenings and glorious pastel sunsets.
Autumn is a time of harvest. The days become still and warm, and the crisp cool nights are perfect for sleeping. With the winter rains not far away, the wineries are busy harvesting their fruit and the vignerons hands become garnet red as they nurture the new wines through their ferment. It is also time to harvest the olives from their groves before the first frosts of winter arrive.
Winter is a time for taking stock of the seasons passed and making ready for the farming year ahead. The farmers plough their fields and sow their winter crops. Vineyards, olive groves and orchards are pruned and readied for a new season. Fences are mended. The days shorten and become colder. Cattle turn their backs to the wind. Dams pent over the summer begin to refill. Root vegetables appear at the farm gate stands. It’s a time for reflection and for savouring the joys of recently harvested produce.
The unique combination of aspect, soils, climate and farming practices create flavours unique to the produce harvested in the Otway hinterlands. The Otway Harvest Trail is a celebration of the seasons that bestow their rich bounty on a luscious part of Victoria.
Numerous berry farms surrounding Pennyroyal Valley offer pick your own (PYO) berries. Apart from being scrumptious, PYO is a lot of fun, especially for the littler ones. Fill your buckets with vine fresh strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries and bramble berries within the November to March season. Pennyroyal Raspberry Farm is the oldest working berry farm in the south west of Victoria and grows everything organically. After working up a country appetite, most of the berry farms have an onsite cafes that know just the trick. Otway Blueberries in Gellibrand stocks many local supermarkets and restaurants and offer PYO in the summer months.
The Otways are littered with wineries opening their doors to the general public for tastings and grommet treats. Most of the wineries are set in the lush and fertile belt between Moriac and Forrest, offering scenic outlooks to enjoy as the perfect after taste of a delicious, award winning wine. Stop in at wineries such as Blakes Estate, Brown Magpie, Dinny Goonan, Gosling Creek. Yeowarra Hill or Otway Estate.
Harvested fresh from fertile volcanic soil by the weathered hand of a knowledgeable local. Food and beverages produce in the Otways just taste better. Explore the Otways Harvest Trail to taste the reasons why.
The Otway region is home to Brae by Dan Hunter, a modern 30 seat restaurant focused on utilizing the benefits of the location and eating from the land. Located near the small town of Birregurra just over 1.5hrs from Melbourne the town’s people are certainly proud of their local celebrity chef. The trophy cabinet at Brae is overflowing with recent accolades and the prestigious restaurant is a must-do for foodies. Each day the menu is created using the highest quality ingredients that are available from the fruit and vegetable garden plus supplies from local farms and other sustainable producers across Victoria. Advance bookings are essential.
Something is brewing in the Forrest
Equal parts microbrewery, eating place and mountain biking hang-out the Forrest Brewing Company is owned and operated by a brother and sister team, Matt brews the beers and Sharon runs the business. Housed in the renovated old general store in Forrest, the brewery produces four regular beers available all year round and on occasion wheels out a seasonal brew or two. Everything beer related is done on site including brewing, hand bottling and labelling. The menu is casual and tasty featuring locally sourced ingredients and guests are welcome to dine in their cycling gear if they so choose given that the venue sits right in the heart of Victoria’s leading Mountain Biking hub with a world class array of tracks and trails on offer.
Delicious wine and fresh berries served with a slab of locally made cheese and some bread from the local bakery, these are what holidays are made of and no you don’t have to be in Tuscany or Provence to indulge your palate. These delicious treats can be found all around the Otways. Using the Otway Harvest Trail to guide your taste buds around the country roads, gather your loot for an indulgent holiday feast. Stop off for some fresh berries and collect a bottle of local cider from Pennyroyal Raspberry Farm & Cidery. Choose from over 6 wineries plus the Forrest Brewing Company for a brew or two to keep the grownups happy. Let local chefs prepare a meal for you at one of the excellent dining options from celebrated Brae restaurant to the boutique handmade treats at Platypi Chocolate in Forrest. You are spoiled for choice in the Otways, and you don’t have to do the dishes!
Take home fresh
It's not just the local restaurants and cafes that have access to the Otways deliciously fresh produce. Check around the corner and you just might find an open farm gate or farmers market. There are also plenty of providores scattered about selling fresh and prepared treats.