If you have ever wondered what the recipe is to make the perfect gourmet retreat, then I have just found the answer. Begin with a lovely little luxury hotel in the idyllic town of Daylesford, then add the award winning cuisine from Alla Wolf-Tasker AM and one of Australia’s best young sommeliers, Winemaker Adam Foster, and your gourmet retreat recipe is ready.
Oh and for good measure add a spa and the picture is complete.
The Lake House luxury resort was founded by Alla and Allan Wolf-Tasker and celebrates this year as its 25th anniversary. Beginning life as a 40-seater weekend-only restaurant, they discovered diners loved it so much they had trouble getting them to leave. So, rather than call the police, they built a boutique hotel!
Over the years the Lake House has become the premier destination for food and wine lovers in addition to a superb location for weddings and as a conference venue. The elegant restaurant with sublime service overlooks the lake and epitomizes the country town of Daylesford.
The charming town is 1 1/2 hour’s drive north from Melbourne towards the Macedon Ranges. Here, birches and maples vie for the limelight with their splendid scarlet, tangerine and claret hues. Quince trees are laden with furry fruit and leaves of cadmium yellow, and signs are everywhere pushing breads, honeys, figs and organic produce.
Its neigboroughing town of Hepburn Springs is an historic village located in the middle of the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia. The springs are full of health-giving minerals that occur naturally in different formulations, giving every spring a distinctive taste.
The Victoria hotel has 33 rooms and suites that are spread over the six-acre grounds, all with enchanting lake views – something you can also enjoy from the mineral water treetop tubs of the new Salus Spa. Linger away in one of their rooms and suites; it is like you are a million miles away from everything.
The Guesthouse Rooms are part of the original homestead of the property and are all elegantly decorated. Enjoy a quiet read in the spacious lounge or on the terraces or be tempted by a myriad of bushwalking tracks meander from the property. Nearby are boating facilities, local wineries, excellent artist’s studios and galleries, places of historical interest, magnificent gardens and an 18-hole golf course complete with kangaroos.
For many years it has been cuisine that had led the way, complemented by excellent wine list. The wine list component has just taken another step up with the arrival of Winemaker Adam Foster to head up the skillful service team.
Adam, a well respected Chef in his own right, moved from the heat of the kitchens in London and Melbourne in 2002 to the front of house and began the journey into the world of wine. Adam worked as a cellar hand with a who’s who from Australia and France, including Chapoutier, Mitchelton, Domaine Ogier, Jasper Hill and Domaine Pierre Gaillard gradually honing his skills.
Adam’s first wine, Syrahmi Shiraz Viognier 2004 from Heathcote, was a big success with specialized wine stores and was quick to find its way in to leading restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney. The few wine writers who tasted Syrahmi gave the thumbs up.
The wine is an ideal food friendly wine; Adam explained, “Syrahmi combines the French words; Syrah and Amis meaning Shiraz and Friends, simply a wine to drink with friends”.
The region of Heathcote in Central Victoria is today recognized as one of Australia best cool climate Shiraz growing regions, and has many similarities with the Rhone Valley (often referred to as the home of Shiraz). The warm summers, cool winters and Cambrian soil offers the perfect conditions to produce great wine. Since its first release of 80 dozen, Adam has increased the production to 500 dozen to keep up with local and now foreign demand. The 2007 vintage named “the Don” pays tribute to Adam’s late Grandfather who encouraged Adam to become a Chef.
The wine cellar of Lake House boasts 600 plus labels from the surrounding wine regions and benchmark vineyards around the world. Adam has “designed the list to be accessible, affordable, diverse, interesting and special with an emphasis on local regional wines”. The icing on the cake is the “private cellar dinning room” where a hand crafted oak table seats up to 16 diners. They’re set to enjoy a gourmet experience like no other, all in all heaven for lovers of good living! Put yourself in their hands, with twenty-five years of service excellence you can be sure your next break is relaxing and indulgent!
Going green at the Lake House
Hotels have over the years come to terms with how they can do their part towards being environmentally friendly. The Lake House adopted a policy of ‘green procurement’ taking environmental factors into account in all purchasing aspects, sourcing regional produce where possible –reducing “food miles”.
Other efforts such as source produce that is organic and bio dynamic where possible and never knowingly use genetically modified ingredients. Taking every opportunity to reduce waste at the source, re-use waste components, recover and recycle where possible and dispose of final wastes by the most environmentally suitable means.
With South East Australia going through a 5-year drought the aim is reducing the amount of water used on the property and continuously capturing as much rain water as possible in tanks for use on site rather than sourcing from town supplies. A main focus is also adopting a practice of responsible energy management through reduced consumption and the encouragement of energy efficiency throughout the business.
During the 25 years the Lake House has become an important part of the community. In giving back to the community, the Wolf-Tasker family encourages staff to participate in local community projects such as the Daylesford Primary School Kitchen Garden, which aims to teach children from a young age the benefits of growing their own food and how to maintain and continuously rejuvenate their little plot throughout the years.
With these efforts in place there seems little doubt that we can look forward to another 25 years of harmony and balance between the environment and a luxury boutique hotel.