John & Annie Ellis
Hanging Rock Winery
What do you love about where you live?
Annie and I lived in the Hunter Valley and Sydney – and the most striking feature of our region, in comparison, is the climate. There really are four distinct seasons – and we love every one. Importantly it suits our winemaking dream – sparkling wine – and we love the cosy log fires of winter. Being only an hour from the city cements it as the dream place to live. We aren't alone, we have wonderful friends, the great mix of events, markets, the sheer beauty of it all – love it is!
What are your top five must do's in your backyard when visitors come?
1. Climb Hanging Rock, stay a while, absorb the beauty of it. Relive the Peter Weir film, listen to the pipes. Imagine Miranda is about to materialise around the next corner. Take it slowly.
2. Visit the Memorial Cross. Take time to read the plaques, the history. Be there on Anzac Day especially – at the dawn service. It can bring you to tears!
3. The gardens of Mount Macedon are wonderful. Especially those attached to the old hill station properties – like Alton with its heritage-listed trees more than 100 years old. The open garden scheme gives you that chance – take it up every time you can.
4. Markets – farmers markets, craft markets – there's one on nearly every Saturday. Get to know the vendors – full of colour, information and enthusiasm.
5. Have a meal with Annie Smithers. Our legend. At her restaurant, Du Fumier in Trentham, you can only eat what she wants you to. It's seasonal, home grown produce. Unbelievably good.
If you could paint a picture of any scenery in the region, what would you paint?
We see Hanging Rock all the time, from our lofty spot, just to the north. There it is poking through the swirling mists, pink in the early morning sun. Mount Macedon in the background. It typifies everything our region has to offer. A painting!
What is the best part of waking up in the region?
When we were designing our wine labels, our designer introduced a horizontal red stripe. Instantly we knew it was the morning sun, bouncing off the clouds to the east, just before sunrise. Later, we found it was also the setting sun. Morning or evening, the colours are magnificent.
What is your favourite time of year in the region and why?
There's no doubt – it's autumn. The colours (Honour Avenue at Macedon is absolutely spectacular), the crisp mornings, beautiful days and balmy evenings. It's also vintage, the grape pickers in the vineyard, the camaraderie during and after a hard day, the flavours and smells. It's the culmination of our year. We love it.