A trip to the Mornington Peninsula offers endless opportunities for coastal walks, boutique shopping and gourmet dining. But for those in the know, its biggest drawcard remains a remarkable concentration of world-class cool-climate wine producers and state-of-the-art wineries.
Crittenden Estate is a long-standing winery and vineyard situated at the foot of the northern slopes of Red Hill. Considered a pioneer of the grape-growing industry on the Mornington Peninsula, Garry Crittenden has now handed the reins of his iconic estate to his two children, Rollo and Zoe, who work as winemaker and marketing manager respectively. Rollo credits the quality of Crittenden wines to the sustainable management of the vineyard that has been imperative to their processes for the last 15 years. The conventional use of chemicals has been abandoned to make way for an innovative program of inter-row cover crops and a composting regime.
Winemaker Michael Aylward’s interest in wine began in the 1990s at his family’s previous Mornington Peninsula winery, Kooyong. Soon, it was a full-time obsession that saw the launch of Ocean Eight in 2006. Within five years of opening the winery, Michael was the recipient of the prestigious Young Gun of Wine award. Now, the cellar door sits within the beautiful gardens and vineyards of the winery, featuring a gravity-fed cellar with an intimate tasting room above it.
A former Halliday Dark Horse Winery of the Year, Principia’s namesake is Sir Isaac Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” – a theory exploring how elements of the universe work and interact with each other. The winery’s ethos is founded on these same principles, relying on minimal intervention and gravity in the production process. Principia Wines is situated in Red Hill on volcanic soils, with the 26-year-old vineyard planted to pinot noir and chardonnay. The vines are free from irrigation and insecticides to allow the true character of the site to shine through the wines.
At just an hour out of Melbourne, these cellar doors are spectacular destinations for a day-trip – or check out the region’s luxury accommodation options and settle in for the night.
Guests enjoy a tasting at the Crittenden Estate cellar door.
Wine tasting at Crittenden Estate is experimental, educational and engaging. The seated tasting experience is bespoke and created to suit each customer’s palate – you’ll find something for everyone in the more than 26 wines to try. Be sure to sample Crittenden’s small-batch Cri de Coeur label, which represents the pinnacle of their viticultural and winemaking efforts over 35 years. For some extra luxury, book a vineyard stay at the Lakeside Villas – each is fully self-contained and situated close to all that the Mornington Peninsula has to offer. Relax by the wood fire, soak in the deep spa bath and enjoy a barbecue on your private deck.
Find out more | 25 Harrisons Rd, Dromana | (03) 5987 3800
The stunning entrance to the Ocean Eight grounds.
The maritime climate of the Mornington Peninsula provides exceptional conditions for growing and making cool-climate wines – in particular, pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot noir. Michael is particularly excited about Ocean Eight’s most recent pinot gris vintage. “Pinot gris strongly correlates with the rise in Asian cuisine in Australia,” he says. “It’s the most versatile and satisfying wine match to Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and South Asian cuisines.” Stop by the cellar door to test his theory – seated tastings for groups of up to four are available, or purchase a bottle to enjoy with take-home meals from Melbourne Asian-fusion restaurants Coda and Tonka (available July 4th and 5th).
Find out more | 271 Tucks Rd, Shoreham | (03) 5989 6471
Principia winemaker Darrin Gaffy in the new barrel room.
While touring the beautiful beaches and food destinations of the Peninsula, stop by Principia for a guided tasting with winemaker Darrin Gaffy. You’ll be greeted upon arrival by Ralph, the winery’s enthusiastic dog, and be treated to a unique and educational experience; tastings are done on a wooden table in the winery, where you’ll get the opportunity to witness the artisanal process first-hand. With a new extension to the chardonnay vineyard, plus a recent installation of a purpose-built barrel and wine storage room, exciting things are happening. Small groups can be offered a barrel tasting or vineyard tour – call ahead to secure a time.
Find out more | 139 Main Creek Rd, Red Hill | (03) 5931 0010
Learn more about the Mornington Peninsula in our essential guide.
*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.