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Food, Travel

Chef & Restaurateur Paul Cooper buys Fergusson's Winery

Chef and restaurateur Paul Cooper and his wife Jaclyn, have taken on the much-loved Fergusson’s Winery in the Yarra Valley. The couple, who already own and operate Bianchet Bistro and Winery, also in the Valley, bought Fergusson’s and opened quietly with their first service on Saturday July 5.

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Fergusson's Winery will be open for lunches-only through winter with expanded hours in September, but there are many plans for the winery and the future.

Cooper is shifting both the Cellar Door and dining room menus, giving both an “Italian focus,” he says.

The 80-seat Cellar Door and Barrel Room offers a changing antipasti menu and is built around wine-tastings and a casual offering, while the dining room which has the capacity for up to 150, has an a la carte menu. This includes hand-made pastas including pappardelle with rabbit and pork ragout and gnocchi with wild mushrooms, silverbeet and ricotta salata.

Main courses currently offer warming dishes, such as roasted duck breast with spinach and lentil ragout and wood-grilled carrot ‘terrine’ with macadamia, orange caramel and treviso.

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The venue is also perfect for weddings - and other occasions - with a large outdoor area and picturesque chapel on-site.

On making the significant purchase, Cooper says, “It’s such a beautiful venue, with a rich history and huge potential. It’s one of the go-to places in the Yarra Valley and we’d like to broaden the reach even further and build a legacy for our children.”

The winery was established by the Fergusson family in 1968 and while it has been subdivided over the years, the Coopers have bought 10 acres with eight of those under vine.

Jeremy Fergusson will continue to look after the vineyard. Rob Dolan winery takes the grapes, makes the wine and brings it back to the cellar door and restaurant. The wine list for the restaurant is exclusively wines from the Yarra Valley.

Cooper is planning wine dinners and outdoor events in the summer - he is setting up a Argentinian BBQ trailer on the grounds, called Argie Barbie – and a 1947 Bedford Ute has been reconstructed as a cocktail bar with beer taps.
Paul and Jaclyn are also developing ideas as there are facilities for a dedicated cooking school, down the track.