Some buildings or businesses look like they’ve existed forever. They somehow suit their surroundings and emit a sense of timelessness. Cupitt’s Estate and Winery, south of Wollongong, is such a place.
Even though this business on the outskirts of Ulladulla has existed for a mere 16 years, the estate melds into the bucolic surrounds of the former dairy farm, which dates back to the early 19th century.
The owners, former Southern Highland-based hoteliers and farmers Rosie and Griff Cupitt, had retirement plans when they relocated to Narrawallee about 20 years ago. But that idea didn’t last long. Griff missed working on the land, while Rosie retrained as a viticulturist.
Then the enterprising duo purchased the historic Washburton Farm and restored the old stone creamery on the property to its former glory.
According to Rosie: “It’s one of the oldest buildings in use in the region and it has such great bones. I remember falling in love with the wonderful, old-world feeling that it has. The structure certainly has that old Australian vibe but there’s something also French or European about it. But maybe that’s just because I’m a bit of a Francophile.”
In any case, the building that harks back to 1851 morphed into the cellar door and the couple launched what they thought would be a smallish venture. The early incarnation of the business included a vineyard, winery and restaurant. But people came and they kept on coming. The wine was great. The food was sublime. The estate grew and the slow-cooked meals earned the folk in the kitchen a series of Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hats.
“We’ve had some amazing chefs through our kitchen. We’ve always focused on slow food and on the notion of paddock-to-plate dining,” Rosie says. ”We have a kitchen garden on site and it’s a real joy to harvest the freshest seasonal produce that we can for our diners.”
The burgeoning enterprise now also includes a microbrewery, fromagerie, luxury accommodation and enough space for weddings, conferences and other events. But the most recent addition is a dedicated wine-tasting and events space adjacent to the main building.
“The concept for the new space was originally for dedicated wine tastings but it’s turned into something more than that,” Rosie says.
”Our intention now is to explore its capabilities through a series of author talks, book launches and such. It’s an intimate room that works well for smaller-scale gatherings.”
But Rosie and Griff’s gastronomic enterprise isn’t just about kicking new goals. Their sons are now involved in the business, which means they get to spend more time with family.
Wally, who honed his winemaking skills in the Loire Valley, France, is now in charge of making the wine. And Tom – along with his wife Libby – focuses on business operations.
“It’s been quite an amazing journey for us all,” Rosie says. “And even better that we can work alongside each other.”
Cupitt’s Estate is open seven days for lunch and Tuesday through to Saturday for dinner. It’s located at 58 Washburton Road, Ulladulla, phone (02) 4455 7888.