Mornington Peninsula Wine Region

Written by
Vintage Cellars
August 23, 2018
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Any wine lover’s consideration of a Top 10 Australian chardonnay or pinot noir must include one or more Mornington Peninsula wines. Not bad for a wine region that was only born in the 1970s!

While the Burgundy twins (chardonnay and pinot noir) weren’t necessarily the first grapes planted at that time, they have come to be the dominant force on the Mornington Peninsula.

Situated on a long finger of land surrounded by water on three sides, the peninsula is highly influenced by a marine environment. Winds off Port Phillip Bay or Bass Strait provide a beneficial cooling effect on grape growing.

Best Region Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Grigio/Gris

The region produces a range of styles of chardonnay, from delicate and citrusy through to richer styles, but the common thread remains a brisk acidity.

When it comes to Peninsula pinot noir, there are myriad expressions. When grown on the clay soils of Dromana, pinot noir can be full and flavoursome. The volcanic soils of Red Hill and Main Ridge bring delicacy and perfume. At Merricks, it’s about spice and savouriness, while the sandier soils of Moorooduc produce real power.

The third most-planted grape in the region is pinot grigio/gris. There’s a distinctive rockpool minerality peculiar to peninsula grigio, while gris is honeyed and textural.

One of the coolest winegrowing regions in Victoria, Mornington Peninsula boasts memorable wine and food experiences, with more than 200 vineyards and 50 cellar doors to discover. Also don't miss Bass & Flinders Distillery in Red Hill, a family-run producer using locally sourced ingredients, including botanicals and shiraz grapes as its base spirit.

9 Mornington Peninsula Wineries to Visit

1. JACKALOPE HOTEL

The jackalope in question – a mythical hare (jackrabbit) with antlers – catches the eye on arrival and sets the scene at this most avant-garde hotel. Book a room with a vineyard view and a table at Doot Doot Doot restaurant. Enjoy a winemaker-led tasting across the courtyard at Willow Creek Vineyard.

2. PT. LEO ESTATE

Pt. Leo Estate has arrived with a money-is-no-object philosophy. The wow factor is high with the restaurant overlooking the estate’s sculpture park and the blue expanse of Western Port Bay. The food is locally sourced, the wines off the vineyard over the hill. Pick of the menu? Dutch carrot soufflé.

3. TEN MINUTES BY TRACTOR

Martin Spedding is passionate about drilling down to the core of what Peninsula chardonnay and pinot noir should be. Taste the multiple-layered personalities of each grape variety to appreciate his quest. The cellar door is at Petit Tracteur Bistro. Star Wine: Ten Minutes by Tractor 10x Pinot Noir.

4. THE ORCHARD LUXURY

The best part is not the peaceful isolation, or the self-contained rooms with a view (and homemade goodies) but the breakfast. Helen Davison’s breakfasts are in fact legendary and served on the deck with only the bush as company. It’s one of the more pleasant dining vistas on the Peninsula.

5. POLPERRO

Sam Coverdale is a surfer when off duty, which goes some way to explaining the cool vibe at Polperro. The bistro is relaxed and the food is local with a nod to Coverdale’s beach obsession (beach herbs, seaweed and saltbush). Book a table under the trees and enjoy the duck breast and pinot noir.

6. STONIER

Established in 1978, Stonier was among the pioneers alerting the wine world to quality wines on the Peninsula. Stonier continues to impress as long-time winemaker Mike Symons – one of the few to pursue sparkling wine on the peninsula – explores individual sites. Star Wine: Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir.

7. CRITTENDEN WINES LAKESIDE VILLAS

Set in a magic location over the Crittenden family’s vineyard lake, with vines to one side and the Stillwater Restaurant and winery just a brief stroll away. It’s entirely possible to enjoy a full weekend here without leaving. Each of the three villas has its own deck with barbecue.

8. MERRICKS GENERAL WINE STORE

General stores don’t come less “general” than Merricks, which serves and promotes Mornington Peninsula produce, whether it be wine, restaurant-quality food or produce. This is the place for breakfast or lunch (but do book ahead!) – and to pick up picnic essentials, as well as local wines.

9. PORT PHILLIP ESTATE

Port Phillip Estate's cool architectural lines make an understated introduction to a most memorable cellar door visit. The super elegant 2016 Ballewindi Vineyard Pinot Noir won gold at the 2017 Australian Pinot Noir Challenge. Star Wine: Port Phillip Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir.