Category – Hospitality
Sponsor – Cranbourne Golf Club
Winner – Cannibal Creek Vineyard
Finalists – Elevation at Emerald Restaurant and Bar, Settlers Run Golf and Country Club
Cannibal Creek Vineyard is the winner of this year’s Hospitality award.
Husband and wife team Patrick and Kirsten Hardiker have run Cannibal Creek since 1997.
The business took a giant step forward when the couple opened a French themed restaurant at Cannibal Creek in March.
“For a long time we’ve been planning to do something like this – somewhere where people could sit and enjoy some food with their wine, and where we could showcase other Gippsland produce as well, not just our own,” Kirsten said.
“We’ve got a full commercial kitchen, restaurant, and a cellar room downstairs – we hope to use that as another tasting area and a place for foodie workshops,” she said.
There’s a deck for the summer time, a fireplace for the cooler months, and a private dining space for family groups or meetings.
“The premium wines we make are really fantastic with food,” Kirsten said.
“It’s giving that whole experience, I think.
“I think people are looking for more these days, too.
“They want to be able to go out and have a lunch and make a day of it.
“We’ve been beautifying Cannibal Creek, which is our eastern boundary.
“People can walk past the boundary and up to the creek. You can spend a day or half a day with the family.”
The move is all about tapping into wine tourism.
“The wine industry is quite challenging, it’s been very competitive,” Kirsten said.
“It’s taken us a while to get to the point where we were able to make this transition.”
She said the vineyard was becoming a point where friends and family from Gippsland, Melbourne, the Peninsula, and Yarra Valley could meet in the middle.
“We’re only a couple of kilometres from the highway and we’re less than an hour from Melbourne,” she said.
“We’re quite accessible.
“It’s right at the beginning of Gippsland. It’s a really good starting point for people.
“We want to build on our information for other things to do.
“We have a selection of wines from other vineyards in Gippsland, so we’re drawing people down to these other venues as well.
“The more we offer in the area, it will become a destination.”