THERE'S a little bit of romance in every great story and the tale behind Snow Road Produce has it in spades.
Owners of the latest addition to the Milawa gourmet food region, Emma and Lachlan Routledge, met while working just a short drive down the road at Oxley's King River cafe.
While customers poured in to taste the cafe's renowned lemon tart, Emma and Lachlan bonded over their love of food.
The couple has spent the last seven years immersing themselves in Melbourne's food industry - Lachlan as manager of famed restaurant Syracuse and Emma via her own events company.
But when Steve Collins, who also owns the Milawa Hotel, put Snow Road Produce up for sale, Lachlan and Emma jumped at the chance to return to their roots.
Under the same name, the pair opened the doors of their produce store-come licensed cafe in July, and have been working tirelessly to expand their business ever since.
Named after the main thoroughfare to Victoria's alpine resorts, Snow Road Produce offers well-known local brands, such Milawa Cheese and Brown Brothers wine, with emerging and niche lines from the local regions' farmers.
"Everything we stock is produced within an hour's drive. So all the wine, beer, produce, meat, it's all provided by local businesses or farmers," Emma says.
Emma and Lachlan also offer a catering service; have local boutique beers on tap; and serve gourmet sandwiches, homemade cakes and weekend breakfasts which are, naturally, made from local ingredients.
And while the Milawa gourmet food region has long been a favourite destination for food-lovers, Emma says a new generation of owners and managers are breathing new life into the area.
"We have new owners in five different businesses and the younger blood coming through is helping inject some spark back in to the place."