In the 1980s pioneering winemaker Alan Brady had an inkling that Gibbston Valley would be a good place to grow grapes–an inkling that has cast the area onto the world stage as an important wine producer.
Gibbston Valley Winery opened in 1990and has grown along with its popularity, with the initial tasting room and restaurant expanding to include a wine cave, private tasting and dining rooms, events venues, cheesery and more recently the high-end Gibbston Valley Lodge and Spa which opened late 2019.
The winery’s strong food focus requires an exceptional chef and Gibbston Valley has undoubtedly achieved this with executive chef Anthony Gradiska at the helm.
With experience at top Auckland restaurants Molten and The French Caféfollowed by stintsin restaurants and on super yachts around the world Anthony landed back in New Zealand in 2017 just as the role came up at Gibbston Valley.
Having lived in Queenstown before Anthony was keen to settle back in the area.
“I was on course to Queenstown almost immediately on touching down in New Zealand. The previous chef at the winery was here 23 years so it was great timing as it isn’t the sort of job that comes up too often. The stars aligned, really.”
One of the first moves Anthony made was to plant a kitchen garden. The initial plot didn’t render much produce, but successive years have seen an abundance of tomatoes, zucchinis, other vegetables and herbs all included on the winery menu.
“We started composting and built a worm farm, basically processing all our food waste in-house and using it to build up the soil. This spring just gone we had a couple of weeks closed as we were renovating the kitchen, so we went all-in on the garden.”
While he tries to keep the menu seasonal and local Anthony also steps outside those boundaries to provide variety.Running a restaurant and lodge kitchen at a winery means being well versed in wine and food matching.
Anthony says sometimes dishes are created with a wine in mind while others are matched after the fact.
“We create some dishes which are challenging from a wine match point of view, sometimes it is surprising which wine will match. It’s not always what you would expect.”
He doesn’t think there any real rules with wine matching and he encourages diners to go with what they like, both in terms of food and wine.
“To me, food can be emotive and nostalgic,” says Anthony. “I like food to be approachable and relaxed and my favouritesareFrench bistro and provincial Italian food. Tasty, good and unpretentious.”