Luigi and Athalie Bazzani are celebrating the end of an era of Warrenmang wines. The regional Victorian food and wine pioneers sold their Moonambel empire last year after 40 years.
Craig’s Royal Hotel hosted the End of an Era Warrenmang Wine Dinner for a second time on Saturday evening, following an initial sold-out 120 seat celebration dinner in October.
Followers of Warrenmang wines, from around Victoria and interstate, attended the dinner to say goodbye and buy some of the last bottles of Warrenmang wine. Melbourne chef Ian Curley created the five-course dinner which was matched with Warrenmang’s best wines.
Mayor Samantha McIntosh presented Mrs and Mr Bazzani with ‘keys’ to Ballarat at the October dinner in recognition of their contribution to the city.
“We have certainly felt the love,” Mrs Bazzani said. “We feel happy that we are able to enjoy saying goodbye and offer something special to the guests, something they can remember.”
The Bazzanis established Copper Pot in Bendigo in 1970 and La Scala in Ballarat in 1976, both judged by The Age Good Food Guide as the best provincial restaurants of their time. They established the Warrenmang Vineyard and Bazzani Wines in Moonambool near Avoca in 1979, expanding it into a resort in 1989.
The couple led the way in regional Victorian dining as they set up restaurants in Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool. “Wherever we moved, food moved with the times. We were always really focused on classic but modern dining and always focused on, as people do now, regional produce,” Mrs Bazzani said.
“There was no other vineyard with fine dining when we started, not even a restaurant. Now every vineyard has food and many country towns now have restaurants that are famous.”
The Warrenmang empire was on the market for more than three years before it was sold to Chinese buyers last year. The estate has now reopened after a period of closure.
Mr Bazzani, who will turn 80 next year, is looking forward to transitioning to retirement. The couple will sell the last of their Warrenmang wines until April.
Mr Bazzani said the Pyrenees wine region will continue to grow and develop its reputation for quality. “The region will expand also with time as new varieties are introduced.”