Having toured in the Yarra Valley regularly over the last 5 years we decided to venture into the Mornington Peninsula - another fabulous wine region in Victoria. The objective was to explore mixing this wonderful region with our special penguin tour on Phillip Island.
We turned off the highway at the Arthurs Seat exit and drove through the clouds to stop at Murray's Lookout. It was a misty morning so we didn't experience the panoramic views but we still got the feeling that we were standing on top of the world.
From the summit of Arthurs Seat its a short walk to visit the monument dedicated to Matthew Flinders, the English navigator and cartographer, who was the first to circumnavigate Australia. He stood on this spot in 1802 and no doubt the view he experienced as he gazed across Port Phillip Bay was very different to the one we saw today.
We next headed to Port Phillip Estate and as we drove into the parking area we were struck by the stunning architectural design of their building which reminded us of TarraWarra Estate in the Yarra Valley. We later found they were both designed by the same architects.
Port Phillip Estate
The staff here were fantastic, making us feel at home as soon as we arrived. They provided comprehensive insights into their wines and enthusiastically recommended other wineries in the region.
Cellar door at Port Phillip Estate
There's a casual cafe in the cellar door area or the dining room which Gourmet Traveller described as one of Australia's top 100 dining experiences. You'll need to check opening times as they're not open every day of the week.
The views from the outdoor area were breathtaking.
Next we visited Red Hill Estate where again we were treated more like good friends than first time visitors.
Consistently rated as a 5 Star Winery by the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion the wines here are a testament to why. Co located with the winery is Max's Restaurant where you can enjoy a high quality dining experience showcasing local produce and wines.
The panoramic views of Western Port Bay from Red Hill Estate are reputed to be the best in the region. On a clear day you can even see Phillip Island where our new tour will end at the famous penguin parade.
Next we visit Tucks Ridge which has produced a number of James Hallidays' top rated Pinot Noir and Chardonnays in recent years.
Tucks Ridge Cafe is open every day and Saturday night and offers a relaxed dining experience and some great lunch time specials.
We headed to Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove for lunch as the Piazza Cafe is open on the weekend. We enjoyed gourmet pizzas sitting in the glorious sunshine amongst the terraced herb garden. The food was great and reasonably priced.
Besides the Piazza Cafe there is a a Restaurant which has won 11 chefs hats from the Age Good Food guide since 2002.
Montalto sells a range of wines from $15 to $65 a bottle. The winery also has more than 20 permanent sculptures and awards an annual art prize.
Having heard so much about Ten Minutes by Tractor we had to visit to check out whether the reality was as good as the hype. We were not disappointed.
The name comes from 3 vineyards which are all 10 minutes apart by tractor! They have single vineyard wines and regional 10x wines and the restaurant has 2 stars in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. It has an innovative menu using local produce and is very popular so bookings are a must.
Our last stop was T'Gallant which was extremely busy and had live music on the balcony. Everyone was enjoying the food, wine and entertainment but we reluctantly had to leave to head for home.
If you haven't been to the Mornington Peninsula we suggest you head there and enjoy the wineries and some of the local produce that's on offer.