Russo Estate: Diggers Rest’s Unexpected Winery Haven

Russo Estate Diggers Rest

Best known by music festival old-timers as the site of the iconic Sunbury Rock Festival, the unassuming town of Diggers Rest is home to an unexpected winery haven. 

Situated on a gentle hillside, overlooking a picturesque valley, Russo Estate boasts award-winning wines that enthusiasts come from far and wide to savour. The family-run business also incorporates a restaurant, luxury glamping domes and idyllic outdoor function settings. 

The winery’s location on the region’s enriched volcanic soil provides excellent growing conditions. The fertile ground and cool climate are ideal for nurturing flavourful grapes for the Estate’s acclaimed wines. The family learnt winemaking from renowned winemaker Mark Matthews. Award-winning wines include the 2006 & 2007 Shiraz, and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon which won a Bronze medal at the Victorian Wine Regions Showcase Series. 

A fascinating (and totally unexpected!) story forms the backdrop to the Russo Estate site. The renowned escape artist and magician Harry Houdini, made aviation history over the land that is now Russo Estate on March 18, 1910, with the first controlled, powered aircraft flight in Australia. Houdini made three successful flights reaching 30 metres, and lasting between one and three and a half minutes in the air! The site of the Houdini flight is marked along the boundary of the Russo Estate property, and a monument to this local history sits in the heart of Diggers Rest.

Houdini Russo Estate

Russo Estate pays respect to its intriguing heritage with a range of wines ‘Houdini’ labelled wines sold at the cellar door and served in the restaurant. The on-site Italian restaurant prides itself on delicious food and wine pairings made with locally sourced and estate-grown ingredients. Favourites include the 8-hour braised beef cheek paired with the vibrant 2012 Pinot Noir, and the tuscan lamb paired with a 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. All produce is sourced locally or from the estate’s gardens. The surrounding gardens boast olive trees, fig, quince and lime trees and a luscious herb garden. Patrons often spot chefs picking fresh oregano or thyme through the window! Important sustainability fact (!): the gardens and vineyard are all watered by recycled water. 

For those seeking a unique and decadent escape, Russo Estate’s luxury glamping domes offer the perfect opportunity to make a weekend of it. The property houses nine domes, including two lavish “Honeymoon Domes”, perfect for romantic couple retreats, relaxing with friends in tranquil surroundings after a day of wine tasting, or an ideal homebase for a weekend of winery-hopping. The estate offers a range of packages to stay and dine. 

Russo Estate is a 35-minute drive from Melbourne, or a 10-minute taxi ride from Diggers Rest train station. For those seeking an adventurous Houdini-like experience(!), Mile High Australia offers half-day helicopter tours to Russo Estate, departing from Essendon, Moorabbin, and Melbourne airports.

The cellar door and restaurant are open Wednesday – Sunday, with the restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The luxury glamping domes are available for overnight stays 7 days a week.

Book your winery getaway at Russo Estate:

Winery options in the surrounding regions include:

Witchmount Estate:

Gisborne Peak Winery:

Hanging Rock Winery:

Shadowfax Winery:

Organ Pipes National Park is also closeby for a short bushwalk.

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