The Zonzo Story – Where it all began.


Situated in the small country town of Yarra Glen, tucked away amongst  pockets of neighbouring farms, you will come across the long winding driveway of Lubra Bend. Follow the path with its twists, turns and bumps and you will reach the gorgeous rustic entrance to our 230 acre property. Allow tall Gumtrees to usher you up the drive – look to the left and you will be treated to the most stunning view of the dam, framed with long rows of vines. Welcome to Zonzo Estate.

Established in 2007, Zonzo Restaurant was the vision of Director Rod Micallef. Micallef always had a passion for food, and in 1999 he made the decision to trade his hi-vis for a chef’s apron to pursue his love of Italian food.

His journey began in Abbotsford with a business partner operating a small pizzeria, taking it from a modest takeaway spot to a small dine-in restaurant.

Years later, he fell in love with the idea of offering a city dining experience in the country. He decided to take the risk and pursue this idea. Leaving the 60-seater restaurant in inner Melbourne to venture out to the Yarra Valley and start his next adventure.

The challenge was to find a space to bring his dream to life. The Yarra Valley was mostly untouched at this time, with large open paddocks filled with cattle and not much else. However amongst rolling hills and vines, and old milking shed ticked all the right boxes. The rustic space would soon become the foundation of his new business – Zonzo. It quickly became a popular weekend destination for diners and wedding couples alike.

In 2015, Micallef acquired the surrounding property, including 45 acres of vines – renaming the precinct Zonzo Estate. With his sights set on creating the Estate’s first vintage, he set the ambitious goal to break even in his new venture in just six short years.

Feeling motivated and inspired, he reached out to established winemakers Caroline Mooney and Kate Goodman. With their hard work and dedication they carefully crafted the first vintage. April 2016 saw the proud release of our Reserve range, which consisted of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Later introducing Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Moscato, Prosecco and Pinot Grigio to the collection, along with two perfectly brewed craft beers, a Lager and Pale Ale, all created to complement our menu.

Over the years Micallef has formed a tight knit team in the kitchen who pride themselves on creating fresh, mouth-watering Italian dishes, made using only the finest local and imported ingredients.

The restaurant has become well known for it’s authentic style feast menu which is based on the traditional Italian custom of the ‘shared table’, where food is placed down the center of the table for all guests to enjoy, this has become a point of difference for weddings! Guests of all ages love indulging in a range of wood-fired pizzas, slow cooked lamb and pasta. You can almost hear nonna yelling ‘mangiare’.

After a decadent lunch, visitors love taking the opportunity to explore the property. The grounds show guests the evolution from the old dairy shed to a popular restaurant, which has also played host to many nuptials every year.

We are artisans of the good life, and believe that good things are even better shared with those we love.

In November 2016, two stunning new buildings were added to the property – the Cappella and the Stables. Both architecturally unique, with matte black exteriors they stand out against the surrounding greenery. The Cappella provides a modern space for couples to say ‘I do’ and the Stables is the ultimate private dining space – the perfect additions to a growing business.

Micallef has a strong vision for the business and property, as it continues to blossom – who knows what the next five to ten years will bring!

For now, Micallef can enjoy the fulfilment of watching two souls come together as they marry in one of our ceremony spaces, and enjoy the magic in watching groups gather to celebrate any number of occasions in the restaurant.

We are artisans of the good life, and believe that good things are even better shared with those we love.

We invite you to come wander with Zonzo.


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