How I Daylesford: Winespeake’s Jen Latta

Published on 21 July 2020

Photo: Inside Winespeake

The owner of Daylesford's Winespeake Cellar and Deli offers some of her picks around the region.

Winespeake Cellar and Deli is the newest business to open in Daylesford. Opened by Jen Latta, it’s a haven for all things wine and cheese. The store is all about highlighting little-known producers from around the region and the world, Latta says. And speaking of wine producers, you might recognise the surname – Jen’s husband Owen is the winemaker and grower behind his home estate, Eastern Peake Vineyard, and cult favourite Latta Vino. The store follows Latta’s ethos that great wine is made from great vineyards; most of the selection in store is representative of this hands-off winemaking style. “We’ve got a huge focus on wines that are farmed biologically, and not tinkered with too much in the cellar,” says Jen. The deli selection follows that same thinking: small producers doing wonderful things without the constraints of upscale commercial production. “If you're someone that likes to make conscientious choices about what you eat and drink, this is the place to be.”

As of 9 July, residents of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise, giving or receiving care or performing work that you can't do from home. You may not travel to regional Victoria. For more information, visit the Victorian Government's website

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My defining food moment in Daylesford was, as simple as it is, mushrooming. Coming from the city, this was such a novel concept for me. All the pinies around the region get snapped up pretty quick by the local chefs so you have to be quick and know where to go. But this has become a fast favourite winter hobby and a defining country living experience. The terms 'paddock to plate' and 'farm to plate' get bandied around a lot, but here, it's exactly that. A neighbour brings you quinces, you make quince paste and share with the local restaurants. A customer brings you edible flowers, and onto the menu they go.

I know I’m in Daylesford when I smell the chimney smoke in winter. Daylesford is amazing in every season but autumn and winter are just gorgeous up here. This is the time for long lunches with friends, roast in the oven, fire on, and many, many, wines opened.

The best new thing I’ve found is kayaking on Lake Daylesford. Nothing more tranquil.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I head to The Surly Goat in Hepburn Springs. There's a number of contenders for favourite restaurants around town; we're incredibly spoilt with the amount of talent up here. But The Surly Goat has a forever-changing menu and an excellent wine list, and is owned by two lovely people, Vanesa and Dave, who kept me and my team fed through the worst of the iso lockdown.

There’s no better value in the region than Guildford Winery. They do lunches on Saturdays and Sundays and it's pretty well only locals that know about it. The food is phenomenal and the value is ridiculously good. Sitting overlooking their vineyard, drinking great wine and getting extremely full is one of my favourite weekend activities.

And when I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to hit The Farmers Arms bar. It’s a must-visit. My friends also consider a trip to Istra Smallgoods essential to restock their fridges, and swinging past the beautiful Daylesford Cidery for a paddle of ciders always impresses.

In the mornings you’ll find me walking my dogs around Lake Daylesford or up to Cliffy’s Emporium for a coffee. 

If you looked in my fridge, you might be surprised to find no wine or cheese. As a wine and cheese merchant with a winemaking husband, you'd probably think we'd be fully stocked. But with all our energies spent at our respective places of work, our own household staples tend to get overlooked. Luckily I know just where to find supplies when I need them.

My local is The Daylesford Hotel. The food is great, the ambience is great, and the owners are the most supportive and kind neighbours I could ask for.

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be nothing. Seriously. I've deliberated over this one for a while, and I can honestly say I can't think of a single thing I would change. Maybe just my own availability to get out to more places more often. But the offering of every single establishment here is supreme and all greatly varied. We are so fortunate. 

But the one thing I hope never changes here is the community spirit between business owners. There's no such thing as competition here, we all eat and drink at each others' places, break bread together in times of celebration, call each other for advice. It's truly the most supportive environment where fellow business owners will go above and beyond. 

Winespeake Cellar and Deli, open daily 10am-late, 4/26 Vincent St, Daylesford, winespeake.com.au, @winespeake.

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