The Mornington Peninsula Wine Tour

The Mornington Peninsula is in the top 20 must see places as voted for by The National Geographic in 2015.

Our friends, who we were house sitting for, had given us a list of suggested places to visit and we were gradually working through it. Some were based in central Melbourne, others involved taking tours (when wine is involved this is wise). The Mornington Peninsula was on the list. I did a bit of research on the companies that offered tours here and based on excellent reviews, booked to go on the Mornington Peninsula Wine Tour with Melbourne Coastal Touring. (Now Melbourne Boutique Tours).

After an enjoyable day in the Yarra Valley, on a gourmet food and wine tour, Phil and I were looking forward seeing a different region and sampling the wine and food it had to offer. We were not disappointed.

We were picked up at promptly from St Paul’s, just opposite Federation Square, at around 8 am. Jason, our driver, tour guide and owner of the company, waited while we finished our McDees breakfast (classy I know, but it was an early start) as we did not want to mess up the clean minivan with our trashy breakfast. Although the rest of the group asked where there coffee was. Then it was time to hit the road and we headed out of the city. Jason used the drive time to get to know the group, who we were, where we were from, and gave us a rundown of the itinerary for the day. After a drive of just over an hour, we reached our first stop for the day.

The Colourful Beach Boxes of Mornington

First stop was to see some colourful beach boxes and a stroll along the beach. After an early start and an hours drive on mostly freeways, the opportunity to stretch our legs and wake us up was just what we needed.

This was July 2015 and winter in Melbourne. We were so lucky with the weather.

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Arthurs Seat

As we drove up to the hills from the beach we stopped at Murrays Look Out to admire the views from Arthurs Seat.

2 Macs Farm

We had a quick diversion to 2 Macs Farm as one couple on the tour had requested this stop for a talk about permaculture. This gave us the opportunity for a look around the place.

This is somewhere that I would have liked to have been able to spend more time at. Jason said their Slow Sunday Lunch was renowned in the area. What a shame it wasn’t Sunday.

T’Gallant Vineyard

And so on to the real reason we were here, the wine. (Obligatory picture of vineyard cat included).

First stop was T’ Gallant vineyard. The slightly quirky host had some interesting stories to tell about wine and vineyards.  The one about winning a vintage bottle of wine worth thousands in a raffle, that some eccentric professor had bequeathed to a university in Leicester was a bit far-fetched (and I have not found anything on Google to back up this story) yet she was fun and told us after she did this for fun as she was minted. Yes, that’s what she said.

Phil and I indulged in a couple of bottles to take home to celebrate his upcoming 60th birthday. Then we were off to the next stop, to do some wine and cheese tasting.

Green Olive

Next on the tour was Green Olive for some cheese and wine tasting as their neighbours, the  Main Ridge Dairy that is usually included on this itinerary, were closed for a holiday.

Beautiful setting, lovely creamy cheese and some good wine, and an interesting range of goods in the shop. We chose a bottle from their Kelpie range of wines to take to our friends in Sydney. They liked it.

Montalto Estate

The first thing you notice here is the sculpture collection.Since 2003 they have hosted the Montalto Sculpture Prize, the winning sculpture wins its creator $30,000 and Montalto acquires the work.

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Of course it would be rude not to taste some wine.

As well as cats I am also good at finding Moggies aka vintage Morris Minors. I learned to drive in a car like this….

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Red Hill Epicurean

And so to lunch. Which was excellent. Phil had the Piccantosa pizza cooked in the woodfire oven and I had the gnocchi di pollo washed down with a glass of wine. Lunch is included in the tour. The setting is just lovely, not too formal, in a former warehouse they call The Shed.

There is also a small shop at the front and photos showing what the building looked like in the past and recording the refurbishment to what it is now.

The Epicurean is housed in what was once a warehouse and has an interesting history. It is next door to a hardware store with this painted on the side. Did I say I was a train geek too?

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Red Hill Estate

Our last vineyard of the day. I got one shot of Jason, our brilliant guide for the day, that’s him propping up the bar, not drinking. The group was really bonding by now (that would be the wine then)  we all got on well and had some interesting conversations. Makes the day even better when you have a good group of people to share it with.

There was some interesting artwork, and comfy sofas and more wine.

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The Red Hill Estate had magnificent views of Western Port Bay.

Beautiful setting, but by then even I was a little wine weary. Next stop, chocolate.

Mornington Chocolate

I have included it here as it was part of the tour I was on. After visiting the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie this was underwhelming. The itineraries may vary by season and I expect they also take into account reviews of customers when tweaking the tours. The stop at this chocolate shop is not now on the itinerary. It has now been replaced by a visit to Merricks General Store, which seems much more in keeping with the other venues we visited.

Mock Red Hill

The wine tasting may have finished, yet Jason persuaded us that trying  Mock Red Hill local cider would be a good idea. Well he was driving….

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Me, being the geek that I am was more interested in the old machinery.

And the fire.

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Oh, and the cider. That was good too. Mock Red Hill is a family run Demeter certified Bio-dynamic apple orchard. Had to look what that meant of course. Organic then.

Bio-dynamics is an advanced organic farming method based on the research and teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

And so back to Melbourne

Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed the day.It was well paced and good value for money. It is a perfect taster day to explore the Mornington Peninsular and made me want to spend more time there. We went in the winter and the weather was perfect. The next day it rained. Would that have spoiled it? No, as most of the places you visit are inside, yet it was lovely to have a stroll in the sunshine on the beach.

About Melbourne Coastal Touring

Melbourne Coastal Touring is a family run business. Jason and Athena, the company owners, have been in the travel industry since 2004. This is what they say on their website.

We started as travel agents in 2004 and were inspired to start our tour company after failing to meet the needs of our clients with the tour product available

Jason was born, raised and still lives on The Mornington Peninsular and you can tell he loves introducing this area to his customers. His commentary during the day was informative and he answered all our questions as only a local, in touch with his community, could. He even showed us where he plays cricket and his old school. That is truly the personal touch.

He was greeted with warmth at all the places we visited, and not just because he was bringing a van load of tourists. I reckon he has the best job, driving around, chatting to his clients and visiting his mates all day.

The customer service is excellent.  It is easy to book on their website and Athena responds swiftly to email enquiries. I would certainly recommend Melbourne Coastal Touring for this tour. I am back in Melbourne in July 2016 and will definitely join them on another tour. Probably Phillip Island to see the penguins.

Disclaimer: I paid for this tour and I was not asked to review it (apart from on Trip Advisor which I now have).

 

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