The humble, little city of Canberra is rapidly becoming known as a foodie hub, filled to the brim with passionate foodies, wine fanatics and hidden restaurants and bars. But what if there was a one-stop destination for all foodie needs, with the added bonus of country cottage charm?
A mere 25-minute drive from the city there is such a destination. Poachers Pantry, located in the heart of the capital wine region near Murrumbateman, is a unique establishment where you can bask in the sun of a kitchen garden, or cosy up next to a large stone fireplace, eat what you see growing in the garden beds and drink what is being cultivated on the vines in the surrounding fields.
Starting out as a family business of smoked goods 25-years-ago, this 700 acre property has since expanded to become a well-rounded gourmet institution built on a family’s passion for sharing food and wine.
While Poachers Pantry has been offering café services, wine tasting and smokehouse samples for a number of years, the humble cottage and surrounds have recently been renovated. Just a short drive up a tree-lined driveway is an idyllic country setting of lush lawns, under large charismatic eucalypts, flowering gardens, and nestled amongst garden beds, a winding path leading to the weatherboard cottage.
The original 1930s charm of the cottage is obvious from first sight, but stepping through the door reveals a refreshed space that retains the cottage aspects of wooden floorboards, white framed windows and stone fireplaces while incorporating clean, modern lines and plenty of natural light. This is an inviting space perfect for a long relaxing brunch or lunch over platters.
Before you head to a table, the first thing to do is some wine tasting at the cellar door (conveniently located in the cottage!). A selection of their smoked goods are also available to taste with the wine, which can also be purchased from the new cool room that stands impressively as a glass room in the corner of the cottage.
As well as the recent renovations, the 700-acre property has undergone a number of transformations since the family became owners in 1975 – all to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of the food and wine industries. Efficient use of the dam for irrigation of the vineyard, self-watering garden beds and solar panels, are just a few methods the family have employed to create the most self-sufficient and sustainable estate they can.
Over the life of the cottage the vision for the the place has expanded in many directions, guided by the personal interests and talents of each of the family members. Rob and Sue Bruce first began their business with smoked meats and vegetables, opening a café in 2002 and subsequently the vineyard in 1998.
As well as being heavily involved in the smokehouse, their daughter Katie is the go-to for wedding and function organisation – while their son Will has ventured down the vigneron path, looking after the estates wine production.
An increased focus on small batch wines and alternative methods, brings an exciting and innovative edge to this side of the business, including the use of a ceramic egg as an alternative method to oak barrels. This peculiar ceramic vessel even occupies a feature place in the café!
Whether you’re a foodie, wine fanatic or simply looking for a weekend escape, Poachers Pantry has something for everyone.
431 Nanima Road
PO Box 243 Hall ACT 2618
02 6230 2487