Vigneron and manager, Daniel Tokar, explains the history of his family’s estate.
Tokar Estate was born in 1995. My Dad, Leon Tokar, stumbled across the location by chance and brought my Mum, Rita, to view the property. They clambered over a barbed wire fence and walked to the point where the winery and restaurant now stand. They took in the incredible view, and by that night it was theirs.
Leon and Rita originally dreamed of a weekender and hobby farm. But the winemaking potential of the site, sandwiched between some of the Yarra Valley’s most famous vineyards, was too good to ignore.
The Tokar family have never shied away from a challenge, and by 1999 we had 30 acres under vine.
Our family laboured to transform land that was covered in thistles, tussock grass and snakes into a high quality vineyard. Leon and Rita learnt from the established vignerons who were their neighbours, but they soon developed a reputation as trailblazers in the Yarra Valley. In addition to planting traditional varieties (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay) they were the first in the valley to plant the Spanish varietal Tempranillo.
Over the years, the Tokars have proven to detractors that taking risks can pay off, and Tempranillo is now one of our signature wines.
Our wines have achieved commercial success, but our estate is still a family farm. The Tokars, alongside our winemaker and vineyard manager, Martin Siebert, still lovingly tend the vineyard.
Tokar Estate Wine & Restaurant
The Tokar Estate label was launched in 1999. My parents pride themselves on their traditional European hospitality, and they were soon hosting customers alongside family and friends in a makeshift cellar door in their house on the property. Tokar Estate wines could be enjoyed with platters, coffee or Rita’s home baking – at the bar or on the patio behind the house.
Our wines soon developed a following, and more space was needed. In 2003 we opened our Mediterranean inspired cellar door and restaurant. The food today is prepared and served by professional chefs and restaurant staff, but the philosophy remains the same.
Our family’s love of sharing good food, wine and company continues. We still manage and work in both the cellar door and restaurant.
The Present and the Future
Tokar Estate now has two generations working alongside each other. We have had immense success in recent years. Our wines have received many accolades and we have expanded our sales into the retail and restaurant markets.
Together with our winemaker, Martin Siebert, we are continually working to finesse our bold and distinctive wine style. The hard work and attention to detail that defined the beginnings of Tokar Estate continue to underpin our vineyard practices, and we still look forward to sharing a glass of wine and a meal with old and new friends.
We are proud to invite you to become a part of the next chapter of the Tokar Estate story.
Meet the team
Leon and Rita Tokar
Rita, together with her husband Leon purchased the property as a paddock in 1995. Hard work and determination has seen the property transform into the thriving venue it is today.
Rita can now be found hosting guests in her home, at the bed and breakfast known as The Residence at Tokar Estate.
Baking has always been a keen passion of Rita, her impressive cookbook collection rivals most.
When not working, you can find Leon pursuing his passions in the kitchen or perhaps tending to one of his famous slow cooked BBQ briskets, a crowd favourite at events . Leon enjoys a glass of red on the weekends in the restaurant, chatting to customers and sharing stories of the earlier days.
In their spare time they adore spoiling and looking after their eight grandchildren, visiting regional restaurants, and travelling together.
Daniel Tokar is the son of Rita and Leon Tokar. He has grown up on the Estate - right from it’s humble beginnings. As a teenager Daniel helped with each vintage, driving the tractor collecting fruit, and working in the Tokar kitchen as a chef for many years.
These days Daniel manages the Estate, growing the business and undertaking new ventures, whilst still maintaining the family owned atmosphere. Sitting on the board for Yarra Ranges Tourism and the President of the Smaller Wineries Association, Daniel has a solid understanding of not only the wine industry but tourism as well, this is where Daniel’s passions lie.
At home Daniel has three young children who keep him busy! They already enjoy running around the vineyard and riding the tractor, shaping the future vision of a third-generation family owned vineyard.
Ex-Bistro Vue, Moon Under Water and Launceston Place, chef Chris Toogood is bringing picureanism to the Yarra Valley with his role as Head Chef of Tokar Estate.
With an extensive resumé working in the kitchens of some of Melbourne and London’s best restaurants, his love for food and its provenance began on his family farm in the Mallee region of South Australia
"My vision for the Tokar Estate restaurant is to give a dining experience that makes guests feel as though they are eating at a small family restaurant, but come back time and time again to taste something exciting, local and unforgettable - and not to mention, is perfectly matched with Tokar Estate’s award-winning selection of cool-climate wines."
With his love of food, passion for hospitality and eagerness to exceed customer expectations, Dani leads the small team to provide the very best dining experience for our customers.
He loves to visit both Melbourne and regional restaurants in his spare time, enjoying a glass of wine or two! Whilst he enjoys the simple pleasures of a hearty pub meal with friends, he loves to immerse himself in the newest top dining experiences.
Accredited with a WSET award in wine and spirits, Dani is particularly knowledgeable behind the bar hand-crafting new cocktails with flair.
When not working Dani pursues anything outdoors, heading off on hikes and adventures through nature, riding his motor bike to new locations each week exploring the best of Victoria
With over 20 vintages under his belt and a wine science degree, Martin brings a wealth of winemaking experience.
He claims the degree taught him the science of winemaking and the art of winemaking was learnt working with great producers such as Benjamin Leroux in Burgundy, Pegasus Bay in New Zealand and Yarra Yering in the Yarra Valley.
Martin aims to make balanced wines that best reflect the site and vintage.
Martin loves to 4wd with his wife Kate, taking the camper trailer around Australia, getting back to nature and exploring some of the country’s finest wine regions.
Tim undertakes the imperative role of Vineyard Manager at Tokar Estate and boasts a vast knowledge in all things wine while bringing a fresh approach to the team. Tim pursued a degree in Viticulture and holds WSET level 2, plus he possesses expansive hands-on experience at the likes of Galli Estate and the Yarra Valley’s own Yarra Yering.
You can catch Tim out wandering the vineyard rows closely followed by his Kelpie “Mud” who is always up for a game of fetch with a winery barrel bung.
Outside of work Tim still loves drinking wine and making wine, living in Melbourne’s inner North, a haven for laid back wine bars and urban wineries.
Vineyard and Grounds
James currently holds the second longest tenure at Tokar Estate, having worked for the Tokar Family for over 14 years and counting.
Many will remember James as the always smiling, joke loving restaurant manager from 2009 – 2019, with his beaming smile and full belly chuckle, never forgetting a regular face. James undertook other duties during the pandemic, and has unleashed his newest passion for horticulture and vineyard maintenance.
Currently studying his Certificate 3 in Horticulture, James has thrived in his new role “ I enjoy the whole cycle of the vineyard, each new season is a challenge, with it’s own rewards. It’s quite meditative work, with a great variety and no change for boredom to kick in”
In his spare time James loves travelling to new destinations with his wife Jess, with a passion for whiskey and a good Pinot Noir
Cellar Door Manager
A Yarra Valley local with over 30 years’ experience working in the Tourism and Wine industry, operating her own successful winery tour business and managing a number of Yarra Valley Cellar Doors.
Bursting with ideas and a passion for wine, Joanne brings her vast knowledge and enthusiasm to the Tokar cellar door, creating a fantastic experience for everyone from wine connoisseurs to those looking to learn the basics.
In her spare time Joanne loves to visit central Victoria, particularly Heathcote, and is a lover of small town music festivals and all things art.