Mornington Peninsula

Victoria

About

The Mornington Peninsula is the epitome of coastal charm, luring visitors with its fantastic array of wineries, dining and beaches just outside of Melbourne.

Few could resist a plate of freshly shucked oysters paired with a crisp glass of sparkling wine, or a local cheese board matched to a chardonnay or pinot noir. The Mornington Peninsula wine region is a maritime treat, with vineyards as close as seven kilometres from the waters’ edge. Chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir are the region’s most popular varietals.

Only an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD, there’s little wonder why it’s the choice destination for coastal indulgence. Wander through neat rows of vines or along the water’s edge, and pick up a bottled souvenir to sip back at your stay. Take home some gems to cellar and later remember your Mornington Peninsula wine experience.

As well as a wealth of wineries, travellers can expect berry farms, gardens, and water activities like fishing, swimming and natural hot springs. And then, of course, there’s the simple pleasure of stunning coastal views.


James Halliday on the Mornington Peninsula


Contrary to most accounts, vineyards did exist on the Mornington Peninsula (chiefly in the Hastings area) in the 19th century, albeit on a small scale. They disappeared without trace, and the next attempt to establish a vineyard was in 1948, when a member of the Seppelt family planted riesling on a 68ha property on Harrison’s Road in Dromana. Two years later the property was sold to the Broadhurst family, close relatives of a Melbourne retailer and wine judge, Doug Seabrook, who maintained the vineyard (and made the wine) until the vines were killed by a bushfire in 1967.

A chance lunchtime conversation between David Wynn and Baillieu Myer at Elgee Park in 1971 ignited the flame once more, this time to burn brightly. Wynn told Myer of the Seabrook experiment, and expressed regret that it had lapsed. Baillieu Myer resolved to establish a vineyard, which he did the following year.

The subsequent rapid and continuing growth in the number of wineries and vineyards is a reflection of the many advantages the Peninsula has. Moreover, as the link between tourism and wine continues to strengthen, so does the underlying business base of the region. While the Mornington Peninsula winemakers may not welcome the idea, there are parallels to be drawn with the Hunter Valley and its symbiotic relationship with Sydney. For the Peninsula is Melbourne’s foremost holiday playground, its foremost weekend retreat. This is both bane and blessing: on the one hand it provides a populous and active local clientele; on the other hand it places inexorable pressure on land use and hence land prices.

The net result is a patchwork quilt of small wineries and even smaller vineyards, and the absence of larger wine producers. In some regions this can result in winemaking practices (and wines) that might charitably be described as rustic, less charitably as downright unpleasant. No such problem exists in the Mornington Peninsula: the affluence of the majority (though by no means all) of the vignerons means they have not hesitated to spend the money necessary to acquire the human and material resources to maximise wine quality and guarantee consistency.

It has also resulted in the establishment of numerous attractive cellar-door facilities, plus many winery restaurants and cafes. The sheer beauty of the softly rolling hillsides, the green grass of much of the year, the white-railed horse studs, the groves of native and imported trees, and the sweeping sea vistas are a perfect backdrop for visitor or resident alike. Fortuitously, too, concentrated urban development is largely restricted to the seaside suburbs and towns, leaving large tracts of the centre of the Peninsula unscarred.

Facts

Wineries 113
Tasting Notes 4659

Geographic

Latitude 38°20’S
Altitude 25–250 m
Heat Degree Days 1080–1570
Growing Season Rainfall 320–386 mm
Mean January Temp 18.8–20°C
Harvest End March to early June