Wine Not?!

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Just an hour’s drive from the centre of Melbourne, the Mornington peninsula is a hidden treasure-trove of stunning scenery and delicious entertainment for wine loving Melburnians.

Having never visited the peninsula’s wineries before during the two and a half years that I have lived here, I was completely astonished at the beautiful landscape and exquisite wines that were available to me, right on my doorstep!

My parent’s visit from Ireland over the Christmas break provided the perfect excuse to take a few days off and get out of the city to see what Victoria had to offer.

A late start meant that we arrived at Red Hill, one of the peninsula’s principle wine-growing areas, just in time for lunch.

Box Stallion provided us with a fabulous plate of tasty morsels, which we hungrily devoured and washed down with a bottle of pinot grigio. Originally a thoroughbred horse stud, much of the original building has been retained and restored to create a bright, airy and unique winery cellar door. As the sun was shining, we chose to sit at an outdoor table where we could take in the tall hedges, elms, planes and eucalypts frame pastures and wetlands. The food was of a high quality and reasonably priced and the surroundings were serene and relaxing. The good quality wines differ from the Peninsula norm, with eclectic varieties like Arneis, Gewürztraminer and Dolcetto, as well as more conventional fare.

Feeling full, we piled back into the car and headed off in search of Tuck’s Ridge, following a recommendation from a friend. This five star boutique winery was the most breath-taking of them all. The Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide 2005 said that any visit to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula should include a stop at Tuck’s Ridge as it is one of the most picturesque Vineyard sites in Australia.  And they were right. The stunning views across the vineyard, hills and lake had us spellbound and we felt like we had been magically transported to Tuscany, Italy. Full of food and wine, we decided to order coffees. I took my first sip and felt instantly revived as I tasted the sweet bitterness of the coffee. Ready for more wine tasting action, we enjoyed a little of everything they had to offer.

Another winery that we found particularly impressive was Red Hill Estate. With spectacular views of the ocean and vast green fields, this vineyard is an excellent choice for a pit stop. As I propped myself up for another tasting, I found that the fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc was my favourite. With a bottle under my arm, we moved on to what would be the last stop of the day.

T’Gallant is the funkiest winery on the peninsula. The cellar door offers a laid back, casual experience and is family friendly. A busy, vibrant place that is great for sharing some pizza and wine with friends.  The restaurant, La Baracca, always seems to have something exciting going on, with live music on weekends.

Today, there are more than 170 vineyards in the Mornington Peninsula region. The area continues to expand and develop as it rapidly becomes recognized as Australia’s leading producer of high quality maritime, cool climate wines. As the saying goes, ‘life’s to short to drink bad wine’, so make a trip sooner rather than later!!