Nick O’Leary’s award-winning wine is served in restaurants all over the country. His own restaurant is now open.
For the last decade, Nick has quietly worked towards his dream of having a “home” from which to serve his eponymous label.
In June, the dream came true in the shape of a beautiful new restaurant and cellar door nestled on Nick’s productive Wallaroo property, Heywood.
With vast views of the Brindabellas outside and a roaring log fire inside, Heywood promises to be a destination venue for locals and interstate visitors alike — to savour both food and wine delivered by a talented local team hand-picked by Nick and his wife Amy.
While the couple have lofty ambitions to host weddings and corporate events in the future, once the doors open, Nick and his General Manager Fergus Lynch want to settle in to providing a relaxed but elevated food offering for people who enjoy Nick’s lauded cool-climate wine.
“I’ve always gone into restaurants to talk about my wine which is served alongside someone else’s menu. Here is where I want my wine to have its own home, and to be served alongside foods which really enhance the experience,” says Nick.
“We have been making wine for 17 years…We wanted people to be able to come and see where we grow and make the wine and to be able to share what we think is a pretty special place.”
Heywood will showcase a carefully curated selection of Nick’s award-winning vintages, new releases and museum wines.
And for those who love a meal with a focus on paddock-to-plate, locally sourced ingredients, then this will be the place to settle in for a long, long lunch.
Until being lured to Wallaroo, Fergus was managing The Oaks Ranch on the South Coast, but most Canberrans will recognise him from his days as the venue manage for Capital Brewing or from his days at Temporada or eighty-six.
The kitchen has recruited Matt Fely from Ginger Catering as head chef, who has designed a farm table menu which will complement the wines on offer. Alex Fenton, formerly of Rubicon is sommelier while Kai Prendergast from Tipsy Bull will create cocktails at one of the two bars within the venue.
“We will do as much as we can in-house, using as local ingredients as possible,” said Fergus, noting that a recent trial dish included figs grown down the road, Poacher’s Pantry prosciutto, Homeleigh Grove Olive Oil and balsamic from a few paddocks over served with fresh bread baked on site.
The menu has been devised to enhance the wine experience and with Nick O’Leary Riesling being one of the most popular wines of the region, oysters will feature—in this case Pambula Oyster Co. rock oysters served with a lemon granita.
The Choc & Citrus dessert of chocolate ganache, miso butterscotch, shortcrust crumb, and orange textures pairs beautifully with the Heywood 2019 Red Blend.
“It’s a great team, of talented local professionals and I am largely going to leave them to it while I concentrate on making the wine,” says Nick.
Which, of course, will be the main attraction of coming to Heywood. Wine Tastings are the name of the game.
Meanwhile, the fitout—in which the wine and food will be savoured—is large, luxe and moody. Designed in tandem with Studio and You and Captivate Designs and built by Loader Contractors, it features dark accents, recycled wood feature walls, warm leather banquet seating, a feature fireplace and enormous cork and brass trimmed bar at the entrance.
It’s not been an easy process for Nick to get the massive project finished during the inevitable delays and road-blocks of a pandemic.
“This really has been a labour of love, and a life-long ambition to create. I am just relieved to have been able to put the finishing touches on and finally welcome the public through the doors.”
What: Nick O’Leary Wines, Cellar and Restaurant
Where: 149 Brooklands Road Wallaroo
When: Open for lunch Thursday to Sunday and tastings between 10am-5pm in winter and 10am-7pm in summer (bookings essential).
All images by Ben King Photography.