From the tasting team

James Halliday on Ten Minutes by Tractor

James Halliday by James Halliday

15 Dec, 2021

The Mornington Peninsula’s Ten Minutes by Tractor has faced countless bureaucratic hurdles and a devastating fire on top of lengthy lockdowns. But James Halliday was so impressed by a recent visit, he says the restaurant is on par with Michelin three-star venues.

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In early 2004, together with his life and business partner Karen, Martin Spedding learned the three families of Mornington’s Ten Minutes by Tractor had decided to sell. 

“Within weeks, we owned the brand, a few hundred cases and dozen barrels of wine, and a lease of the Judd, Wallis and McCutcheon Vineyards,” Martin recalls. There was also a tin shed with plastic awnings serving as a cellar door.

Martin and Karen Spedding pose in a vineyardKaren and Martin Spedding at Ten Minutes by Tractor.

Their first priorities were to make changes in the vineyards, find a permanent home for the winery and transition the winemaking in-house. So, 5.84 hectares were removed and replanted from the three leased vineyards, and that amount again for subsequently acquired or leased vineyards. On the other side, new blocks were planted, and others grafted. Today there are 40 hectares spread across nine vineyards, 36 of chardonnay and pinot noir certified organic. 

In the first decade of ownership, they opened a cellar door and restaurant on Mornington-Flinders Road, developed and shelved various plans for a new winery (after inspecting 100 wineries in various parts of the world), and purchased the McCutcheon and Coolart Road vineyards. The duo started a new business, which Karen managed (with two former colleagues) until daughter Addie was born. At this point, Martin took over, working seven days a week running the two businesses, with intensive commuting and travel.