Lagoon Dining and The Gospel Distillery
As a child it wasn’t the presents that got Ellie Ash excited about her birthday, but the restaurant where she’d end up celebrating it – so you could say it was clear a career in wine and food was on the cards. Ash has been a sommelier in the Melbourne scene for a while; now not only does she find herself at Carlton’s Lagoon Dining, but she’s also dabbling in distilling at Brunswick’s The Gospel Distillery, as well as launching a wine import business with Melbourne Sake’s Matt Shaw.
“I love how diverse the industry is,” says Ash. “My favourite thing about working in wine is the people. I enjoy drinking wine, but the most rewarding part for me is the connections that you can build with people. Wine is all about enjoyment and bringing people together.”
Ash says wine show judging has been a great way for her to connect with regions, with North-East Victoria and Tasmania home to some of her current favourites. “Billy Button and Mayford are excellent producers from North-East Victoria and not only is the Mayford Vineyard beautiful, it also makes the most exciting tempranillo in Australia,” says Ash. “There is also so much quality and excitement in the sparkling wines of Tasmania. Bellebonne is one of my favourites, they’re making textural and complex bubbles in Northern Tassie.”
But where does Ash enjoy a wine or two? “I’ve spent a lot of time this year enjoying wine at home but it’s definitely not my favourite spot,” she laughs. “Bar Liberty is one of my favourites as the team have so many interesting options on the list and they’re always up for a chat. There are also lots of intriguing places popping up in Northcote and Thornbury, like VEX Dining with its concise and original list. The Carlton Wine Room is one of my go-to venues, too, with an extensive list that offers great balance and interest.”