The hardest part of your trip will be narrowing down which wineries to visit. You can pretty much guarantee you won’t be disappointed with any in the region, but if you’re short on time we’ve got the top 10 wineries in Mornington Peninsula for you.
As we have previously written, Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is fast becoming one of the hottest destinations in the country for a road trip. With gorgeous beaches on the coast and rolling hills in the hinterland, it’s the perfect spot for a break in either the warmer or cooler months.
If you’re a wine buff, you’ve come to the right place. With Western Port Bay on one side and Port Phillip Bay on the other, the peninsula lends itself to excellent cool-climate wines, particularly chardonnays and pinot noirs.
There are now more than 200 vineyards, 60 wineries and at least 50 cellar doors on the Mornington Peninsula. Most are concentrated around Red Hill, Red Hill South and Main Ridge, with clusters at Moorooduc and Tuerong in the north, and Balnarring and Merricks towards Western Port Bay.
If you’re making your way to the Mornington Peninsula, these are some of the must-visit wineries (in no particular order).
With its fine-dining restaurant, wood-fired pizza oven and sculpture walk, there’s plenty of reasons to stop and spend the afternoon at Montalto vineyard. Perhaps the most unique experience (and decadent ways to sample its wines in the warmer months) is by booking its private “picnic experience”. There are 10 secluded spots on the property that you can reserve for two to eight people, with beautifully set tables and a menu starring local produce. Montalto also do a great “behind the scenes” wine tour aimed at those keen to learn more about the process.
The owners of Pt Leo Estate, the Gandel family, have invested more than $50 million in the 135-hectare Pt Leo Estate state near Merricks in recent years and it shows. The sprawling estate now includes an incredible sculpture park overlooking Western Port Bay, a beautiful cellar door space, restaurants (including Laura, which was recently lauded in the 2020 Good Food Guide) and stunning accommodation. Make sure you leave plenty of time to do a self-guided tour of the sculpture walk. It’s breathtaking.
Merricks General Store is one of the highlights on a Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula road trip. The rustic store has sourced local wines from Elgee Park and Baillieu Vineyard as well as a selected range from friends’ and neighbours’ wines for you to sample and enjoy. Not only that, there’s also a great providore to pick up some treats to take home with you and a bistro doing some of the best breakfasts on the peninsula.
You’ve probably seen photos of Jackalope’s jaw-dropping architecture – when the new luxury accommodation opened in 2017 it won a slew of awards and landed a place on Conde-Nast’s Hot List. Jackalope is set in the Willow Creek Vineyard, which produces pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. If you’re wanting to treat yourself, book a couple of nights in one of the luxury lairs so you can make the most of the lavish day spa, the excellent eateries (Doot Doot Doot is their fine dining option while Rare Hare Wine & Food Store is a more casual experience), and the spectacular infinity pool overlooking the vines.
Book a table at Ten Minutes by Tractor’s eponymous restaurant overlooking the vines and sample the estate’s award-winning wines. You can also chat with the winemakers who are changing up their practices and moving towards full organic cultivation (the use of herbicides has already been eliminated). A new cellar door opens January 2020 if you want to sample Ten Minutes by Tractor wines but haven’t got time for a meal – the winery was impacted by fire a while back and the reinvigorated cellar door experience promises to be impressive.
Set in a beautiful spot in Red Hill, Foxeys Hangout is the perfect place to while away a few hours. The vibe is wonderfully relaxed and winemaker Tony Lee is a qualified chef so there is a selection of great share plates to pair with their wines. The mushroom sausage rolls with smoked tomato sauce are always a hit, as are the braised leeks with goat curd, blood orange and mint. Enjoy your food and wine in the cosy dining room or take advantage of the views from the deck in summer.
After landing two chefs hats in the 2019 and 2020 Good Food Guide, this has to be on your itinerary for the restaurant alone. The menu is a celebration of locally sourced, seasonal produce and perfectly complements the local wines. Both the cellar door and restaurant have huge glass windows that offer lush views of the rolling hills and vines beyond.
Polperro is a premium, single vineyard label specialising in pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris. With luxury accommodation, an intimate cellar door and a cracking restaurant, it’s a great place to relax and unwind. Surrounded by a colourful kitchen garden, the restaurant has a fabulous atmosphere – enjoy a long lunch in summer on the sundrenched deck, then kick on with drinks and tunes into the early evening.
It’s not technically a winery, but this all-day bistro, bar and cellar door in Red Hill is owned by the people behind Even Keel and Polperro Winery and is a great spot if you want to relax and try a broad variety of local food and wine in one spot. Rub shoulders with the locals (who have quickly made this hub their adopted home) and sample the owner’s favourite wines, beers and ciders from the region.
This winery is a little more off the beaten track but is well worth finding. Main Ridge Estate was the peninsula’s first licensed winery and the relatively small two-hectare vineyard continues to make some of the best wines in the area. The decision to make wine only from the grapes grown onsite results in limited barrels of wines that express the season and the site. If you want to go beyond a taste at their cellar door you can pair your wine with a casual lunch taking in views of the quiet, bush valley from the sundeck. In the cooler months, you can sit by the fire in the working winery.