Cupitt's Cottage, Ulladulla review: Back to the vat-cave

Read our writer's views on this property below

Judy Prisk indulges in hidden treasures at a winery and restaurant stay on the South Coast.

There's a cave just down from Slaughterhouse Road that holds in its cold monzonite arms a treasure that gives warmth and pleasure to those who sit, oblivious, above. From this cave, near Milton on the South Coast, was born Rosie Cupitt's dream: a vineyard she could call her own; a tasting room for her wines; a restaurant promoting and serving fresh local produce and seafood and a cottage for guests.

Fortunately for Rosie the Creamery, built in that same monzonite and sandstone in 1851 - to keep the district's milk cold for collection - stood strong and beautiful, overlooking Burrill Lake and the Budawang Ranges.

The cave had to be dug to house the vats and casks for the wines Rosie - a qualified horticulturist who learnt winemaking in France - makes from the grapes on the vines which the Creamery, the restaurant - The Vineyard Kitchen - and Cupitt's Cottage overlook.

And the slab timber cottage, built in the early 1900s, was - after some hard yakka, TLC, modern fittings and carefully selected furniture and furnishings - just waiting to be filled with people who relish peace, stunning views, comfort, great food and, of course, wine.

Griff, Rosie's husband and partner-in-vine, is a cattle farmer from way back so the final touch was a herd of Aberdeen black Angus whose mooing and mawing through the rich, green valley complement the hearty laugh of kookaburras and the nattering of myriad birds.

Enter two hot, sweaty city folk after a three-and-a-bit-hours drive on a 33-degree afternoon.

The humidity was thick and heavy but the veranda somehow, miraculously, found little tufts of wind to fan us as we drank icy-cold water from the fridge (which, we discovered, held the makings of a hearty breakfast). The two bedrooms, dining room and living room were cool and dark and the fireplace in the shadows of the living room was not going to get a workout from us. Not this time anyway.

We avoided the western veranda for the time being but the breezeway down the hall and through to the kitchen channelled gusts that couldn't be seen in the trees. Someone was very clever when positioning this place.


The cottage's good-sized bathroom doesn't have a bath and there are no little extras (shampoo, etc) but it is light and bright and the towels are big, thirsty and soft - perfect after a swim with dolphins at Mollymook beach the next morning. (Well, the six of them were about 20 metres away but why spoil a good story?) That morning there was a mist over our valley in the early light, shrouding the net-covered vines. But rather than confusing the birds, a couple of sneaky ones (possibly honey-eaters) worked out how to get under the net, gorge on grapes and then get back out again.

On the first night we ate at Rick Stein's restaurant overlooking Narrawallee beach - you'll have to book to be sure of your chance to brag later - which was, of course, a humongously delicious life experience. Grilled Hervey Bay scallops in the shell with toasted hazelnut and coriander butter, crisp smoked trout and green mango salad created explosions of flavour in our mouths. Take me to the sea and let me thank those critters. I thought I'd never want to eat again.

Another lovely surprise was lunch much closer to home the next day after our swim and a wander through Milton's trendy shops.

The Vineyard Kitchen, which adjoins the Creamery, is a member of the slow food movement. This does not mean the food takes a long time to cook; it means food that is "good, clean and fair": fresh, local and seasonal; not contaminated; those who produce it and those who eat it benefit fairly - that is, you get value for money.

A feast of local oysters, fish, meat, summer vegetables and fruit, cheeses and bread - washed down with a Cupitt's chardonnay and later a semillon - slowed us in our tracks as we wandered back to the cottage.

All we could manage that evening on the veranda as the sun set over the Creamery, vineyards and mountains was more local cheese, terrine and olives with a chilled rose. It was tough but city folk can handle that sort of hardship.

Next morning there was a flurry of activity: young blokes in utes and on motorbikes arrived and headed up to the far vines to pick the grapes. Rain was coming and the cave was thirsty. Perhaps another slaughterhouse red is on its way. Warms the blood just thinking about it.

The writer was a guest of Cupitt's Cottage and Tourism NSW.


WHERE Cupitt's Cottage, 60 Washburton Road, Ulladulla. Phone (02) 4455 7888, see

HOW MUCH $440 a weekend (two-night minimum stay).

BEST THING The comfy chairs and tables on the verandas, perfectly placed to catch any available breeze.

WORST THING No screens on the veranda doors.

LOCAL SECRET Jasper Peel Breads, the local organic bakery, in Ulladulla. Life-affirming.