Victoria's northern regions, from Rutherglen to King Valley, Beechworth and Bright, are some of the most striking, their beauty both rugged and rural. They're also home to some great wineries and restaurants. Take All Saints Estate at Rutherglen. It produces stunning fortifieds and table wines but, best of all, its restaurant Terrace (All Saints Rd, Wahgunyah, 1800 021 621) has never been better, thanks to British-born chef Simon Arkless, who joined in mid-2012.
Head eastward along the Great Alpine Road to Simone's, one of the country's loveliest Italian outposts, which champions local produce and regional drops plus outstanding examples from Italy. Stay on an Italian theme at Dal Zotto (4861 Wangaratta-Whitfield Rd, Whitfield, 03 5729 8321) in the King Valley, with its wines and rustic trattoria. Patricia's Table at Brown Brothers offers more modern-Australian fare, and the other drawcard is its adjacent bar, Epi.Curious, with locally produced salumi, house-made terrines and more to accompany a vast array of wines.
In Central Victoria, the picturesque township of Kyneton isn't quite the same since chef, gardener and cookery writer Annie Smithers sold her eponymous bistro. Thankfully she's focusing on her other venture, Du Fermier (42 High St, Trentham, 03 5424 1634), which is as cosy and unpretentious as a French farmhouse kitchen.
Down Mornington Peninsula way, Ten Minutes by Tractor has the whole package. The winery restaurant with the best view, meanwhile, is Port Phillip Dining, with its vista of vines, gumtrees and Western Port in the distance. Salix Restaurant at Willow Creek (166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North, 03 5889 7640) also has lovely vineyard views not to mention food worthy of a detour. Add La Pétanque and Montalto, and you've got a full dance-card.
Over in the Yarra Valley, there's no shortage of top drinking and eating options. The Healesville Hotel is a key contender, as is Eleonore's, while the more casual Innocent Bystander offers wood-fired pizze, freshly baked bread and tarts, house-roasted coffee and zingy pink moscato on tap. De Bortoli's Italian heritage is often reflected on the menu at its restaurant Locale (Pinnacle La, Dixons Creek, 03 5965 2271), as typified by scallops with a Sicilian-style caponata or risotto enriched with braised rabbit. Drink up.
Want more Victoria restaurant recommendations? Check out our online Restaurant Guide.