Rare Hare @ Willow Creek: Serving Up That Wow Factor
Address: 166 Balnarring Road, Merricks North, VIC 3926
Varieties: Sparkling, Brut, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon
With a name like Rare Hare you would expect a winery and restaurant that is quirky and unique, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Set in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, there’s something truly special about this place that’s recognisable from the moment you step through the doors.
Rare Hare is part of the Jackalope Hotel complex combing a 5 star hotel, art series, hatted fine dining restaurant Doot Doot Doot, cocktail bar Flagerdoot and spa/pool. Rare Hare is the more casual of the two restaurants.
This is a seriously striking and original place, combining the beauty of the Willow Creek Vineyard with amazing new architecture and sculptures. People around Willow Creek were pretty worried when an unknown Chinese entity purchased the property and I don’t think anybody would have expected such a different and amazing project.
The friendly team instantly make you feel welcomed, and continue to do so throughout your visit.
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It’s true what they say; you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. That’s how we felt when Willow Creek closed for 2 years, and we had to make do without some of our favourite wines.
But now, thanks to Rare Hare, Willow Creek is back in our lives (and glasses). We’re big fans of their work, especially their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sparkling.
That’s not to say that Willow Creek completely steals the spotlight, though. Rare Hare holds its own with their own entry level wines sourced from around Australia. Make sure you keep an eye out for their Rare Hare White (a delightful Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc blend) and their Pyranees Shiraz.
Range or Rare Hare wines (source Rare Hare Instagram)
Using fresh ingredients both from on-site and local producers, Rare Hare’s restaurant drums up a great selection of modern and generously sized dishes. Our tour groups enjoy a sharing feast of numerous courses, a large and seasonally changing assortment of delicious foods. Although the menu changes, the quality never does, and you’re sure to be very satisfied by whatever they have in store for you on your visit.
Roasted parsnip, vegetarian dishes often steal the show (source Rare Hare Instagram)
Once you make it past the 7 metre tall Jackalope sculpture at the entrance, the wonders in architecture and design just keep on coming. Perfectly set on the property to take advantage of the vast vineyard views that are spread over 11 hectares of land, visitors are treated to a visual feast. From the Jackalope Hotel with it’s stylish design and vine views from every room, to the homestead comfort of the Rare Hare restaurant and Willow Creek barrel room, a visit here is unlike any other location on the Peninsula.
What we like
Great food, amazing wines and spectacular photo opportunities at every turn. A very impressive stop on any tour. They also do an amazing mid-week dining special that you just would be silly to pass up which is great for us and even better for our groups.
What we don’t like
Due to its popularity, the cellar door and restaurant here can get pretty busy, so bookings are often limited. More recently they reduce the group size down from 25 to 10 which leaves us saddened as we will be forced to disappoint many with the news.