24 Jan 2023

Family Friends | Whittlesea | Couples

A new hospitality venue is being built in Whittlesea by long term local family, the Vellas, with big plans to open for private events. By March 2023, Five should be pumping and open to the public.

With a 12 seater private dining space planned for the barrel room downstairs, a deck for afternoon sessions in the sunshine, a large function room and lots of spaces for relaxing and soaking in the views, Five promises to be a fabulous destination for locals and tourists alike.

The Vella family, parents Paul and Caroline, and their children Alex, Sam and Olivia, moved to their Mernda farm in 1997. At that time, it was a goat dairy and they ran it as a cattle farm for years but as the community and the environment changed around them, so did their aspirations. By 2016, agriculture had become less appealing, so the family did some research and discovered that the slope of their land and the quality of their soil was perfect for wine growing.

With the Vella children now all in their 30s, the five family members (hence the name Five Vineyard) have gone into business together. They’ve planted vines, built a wine making facility, and created a winery, restaurant and function space on their Bridge Inn Road farm.

Explore Whittlesea spoke with Olivia Vella about the new venture.

“Prior to planting our own vines, we did make a bit of Shed Red,” laughs Olivia. Her brothers, Alex and Sam, have now completed a viticulture (cultivating and harvesting of grapes) course. Other wine producers in the industry have been generous with their advice. “Wine brings people together,” she says. “It’s a great form of farming that we’ve come into.”

In recent years the family has planted chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and sangiovese grapes and they’ve just had their first harvest. Recently, from their 30,000 vines they picked 26 tonnes of grapes which are currently being bottled and labelled. This wine will be used exclusively for Five functions. In future, when the vineyard matures and the harvest is established, the cellar door will open for tastings and retail sales.

The family engaged F2 Architecture to design the public access spaces and Olivia and Caroline worked with an interior designer from Ewert Leaf on the fitout, which Olivia describes as a great journey. “The building started as a giant shed and then we finessed it,” she says.

Over the past years, the whole Vella family has moved from the farm to different suburbs of Melbourne. “We can’t wait to get back to the area and get back into the local community,” says Olivia.

“We want to create a new destination, a new way to see Melbourne. We’re hoping that more restaurants will pop up around us. There’s so much room for people to grow into things out here.”

“We want people to come and discover our sensational views. We can see Melbourne city from our hill in Mernda; if you turn the other way you can see mountain ranges.”

The Vella family hope that Five will be a place where people can discover the beauty of Mernda beyond the residential zone. “We want people to be excited to spend their Sundays with us on the terrace and in our fabulous rooms, and to drink nice wine.”

Well, the City of Whittlesea locals can’t wait for Five to open its doors!

Danielle Norton – Travel Writer