The best Mornington Peninsula wineries are Port Phillip Estate, Merricks Creek Winery, Crittenden Estate, Polperro Winery, Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove, Pt Leo Estate, Yabby Lake Winery, Ocean Eight Vineyard and Winery, Paringa Estate, Red Hill Estate, Main Ridge Estate, and Willow Creek Vineyard. Read on to discover how to get there, what’s so special about each winery, and the best tours and vineyard places to stay.
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Just a short drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations. The Peninsula, like the Yarra Valley, has become well known as one of Victoria’s (and Australia’s) best wine-producing regions.
The best Mornington Peninsula wineries offer luxury accommodations, wine tasting, cellar doors, cellar door sales, fine dining using local produce, and some exceptional cool-climate varieties. A self-guided tour is one of the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula and as a day trip from Melbourne.
With the first vines being planted in the 19th century, Mornington Peninsula estates have specialized in white wines and, in recent times, pinot noir. The typical character of these Pinot’s is described as “supple & alluring, coaxing, elegant and delicate” and yet still “full of intensity, structure & texture.”
And so if a good drop excites you as much as it does me, head out to the Peninsula for a day trip, hop on board the Mornington Peninsula winery tours, or spend a few days staying on the Mornington Peninsula. Read on to discover the best Mornington Peninsula wineries.
How To Get There
- But before we can taste the wine, we’ve got to get there. Luckily getting to and around the Mornington Peninsula is simple. If you’re taking a car, simply take the M1 and follow the Eastlink south down to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway. Be aware however that most quick routes into the Peninsula will involve tolls, and passes must be pre-purchased online.
- If you’re without a car, you can simply take the train to Frankston then connect through Hastings all the way down to Stony Point on Westernport Bay (on the peninsula’s southeast side). In addition, a wide network of buses run throughout the region, starting from Melbourne and extending into the various little villages and localities of the region.
- The 788 runs from Frankston all the way along Port Phillip Bay to Portsea, with a bus running about every 45 minutes.
- Wineries may also have their own tour and shuttle buses, allowing you to sample some of their local produce without the hassle of arranging a taxi or designated driver.
- The wineries are just one of the many beautiful and interesting places to visit on the Peninsula. The wild Point Nepean headland with its fascinating Quarantine Station and the coastal walks make for a stunning weekend getaway. I particularly like staying at the recently refurbished InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula.
TIP: I can’t recommend strongly enough booking a lunch table a week in advance – it’s become more difficult since the pandemic to get a table on a weekend.
Port Phillip Estate
“Striking” is definitely the first word that comes to mind when you clap your eyes upon the limestone exterior of Port Phillip Estate. Styled by its owner as “the alchemy of architecture, food, and wine”, the Estate has even won the acclaim of the National Architecture Association.
A truly modern wine chateau, despite its remarkable and innovative design, the building perfectly suits its beautiful surrounds: along with Red Hill, right in the middle of the Mornington Peninsula.
With its ground open to functions, the Estate offers dinner in a very stylish dining room while lunch runs Tuesday to Saturday at the Cellar Door Kitchen, offering fantastic views across the rows of verdant vines and out to sea.
Merricks Creek Winery
If Port Phillip Estate is striking, then Merricks Creek is definitely charming. Located near the village of Merrick, this winery is a family-run establishment focusing on small batches of boutique wine (including award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
The first vines were planted by Peter and Georgina Parker in 1998. The standout is the Close Planted Pinot Noir, made in the French Burgundy style and using very densely planted grapes.
This is not a slick and commercialized winery and it does not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other great wineries of the Mornington Peninsula. Its food and wine combinations are sophisticated and in keeping with the winery’s casual nature, the family encourages you to simply turn up and enjoy, bookings are not required.
Merricks Creek Winery is open every weekend for tastings of both fine wine and hearty food from 12 until 4 pm.
Sitting just one turn off the Mornington Peninsula Highway near Dromana is Crittenden Estate.
Founded by Gary Crittenden in 1982, Gary has the honor of being amongst the first who revived the Mornington Peninsula’s wine-making tradition which, despite its early founding, withered for most of the 20th Century.
As such, it holds pride of place amongst the region’s vineyards. The Estate has its own restaurant, Stillwater, with a beautiful view of the lake which gave the establishment its name.
Dinner is available on Friday and Saturday nights, and lunch is available every day except for Mondays and Tuesdays. Check their website for the latest schedule.
Walk a little further down towards the lake and you’ll see a row of luxurious villas, where guests can stay and enjoy the estate’s precious serenity (see the main image for this article).
Specializing in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, Polperro Winery in Red Hill is not as old as Crittenden’s but has certainly wasted no time.
Founder Same Coverdale describes his job as “part agriculture, part science, and part marketing, with a good dose of creativity thrown in”.
The estate is something similar, offering everything to prospective visitors, from wine-tasting to a restaurant to accommodation and even yoga. Lunch runs from 11.45 until 5 pm and dinner from 5 pm until late. Apart from the Polperro Restaurant, you can choose to dine in the small and intimate Cellar Door or have a picnic out on the estate’s grounds. I particularly loved their organic vegetable garden right outside the restaurant.
If you’re keen to stay the night, choose from a number of luxury villas or go one step further with the three-bedroom Polperro Farmhouse.
Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove
Montalto winery feels like a little piece of the Mediterranean countryside plopped just outside of Melbourne in Red Hill South.
Beloved by the great and the good, Montalto is certainly in a class of its own, with the estate including a sculpture trail showcasing a permanent collection alongside frequently changing exhibitions.
I’ve never been able to smell a restaurant 100 meters before I reached it before, but driving along in a convertible the smell of wood-fired pizza assails you long before you turn into Montalto!
Guests can dine on fine Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in the Piazza or even book the Alto-private dining room on top of the Cellar Door, which grants a 360-degree view of the property.
There are vegetable gardens, an enormous and meandering sculpture walk, and a large lawn for picnics and for children to run around.
With benefits such as these, the wine is almost an afterthought, but Montalto Vineyard offers three unique brands of wine. Wine tasting is available at the cellar door from 11 am to 5 pm daily.
Point Leo Estate
Pt Leo Estate sits in Merrick not far from the sleepy surfing beach of Point Leo which gave the vineyard its name.
There is however nothing quaint about this estate, which surely numbers among one of the great vineyards of the world.
Pt Leo is another estate where the food as is important as the wine, with two restaurants; the main Pt Leo Restaurant and the smaller yet renowned Laura Restaurant (said to be one of the finest and most innovative in the country).
Lunches run from 12pm on Monday and Friday and from 11.30 am on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner starts at 6 pm on Thursdays until Saturdays. Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rosé, and Shiraz are available from the Cellar Door from 11 until 5 pm every day.
There is a significant and valuable sculpture collection here, owned by the Gandel family – it has been put together with a fine eye for collecting – this gobsmacking sculpture park is the most surprising and delightful find.
With Western Port Bay immediately below it, the beautiful and sophisticated Point Leo Estate is a must-see on a Mornington Peninsula holiday.
Yabby Lake Winery
Opened in 1998 by the Kirby Family, Yabby Lake Winery of Tuerong prides itself on its “single vineyard chardonnay” and pinot noir of “great purity and character.”
Animated by a philosophy that seeks to speak of the land and the season in which the grapes were grown, Yabby Lake is a vineyard that takes great pride in its attention to detail. I have been drinking their single block wines for years now, and was excited to visit and try as many as possible!
Apart from the wines, Yabby Lake pays the same attention to its cuisine, with both a cellar door and restaurant. Just like the vintage, the menu changes with the seasons, helping give visitors a truly holistic experience. Tastings are open on weekends all day and lunch is available seven days a week.
Make sure to also check out the contemporary art collection on your visit.
Ocean Eight Vineyard and Winery
Specializing in pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris, Ocean Eight describes its wines as “lean, bright & tight with acid at the finish”, consciously situating its product within the vineyard’s coastal location.
Owned by the Aylward family and consisting of only 17 acres, Ocean Eight wines have been in production since 1997. The winery produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and a lovely new Sparkling wine.
Ocean Eight does not seem to have an open restaurant at the moment, instead, its owners have, quite helpfully, reviewed a number of top restaurants that stock their wines, giving recommendations to patrons regarding which of their wines might pair with particular meals.
Innovatively, Ocean Eight seems to have also embraced delivery as a means of distributing their wine in the COVID age and If you’re staying around the region you can get a bottle sent straight to your door.
Paringa Estate was founded in 1984 by former geography teacher Lindsay McCall. At that time, winemaking on the Mornington Peninsula attracted a fair bit of skepticism, but McCall was one of the early pioneers who had a crack at the industry and profited handsomely from it.
Nowadays Paringa is a fixture amongst the vineyards of the Peninsula, with an iconic style that combines “powerful fruit flavors” with casks of up to 40% French Oak and keen attention to detail.
Not content with his status as a winemaker, McCall established the Paringa Restaurant in 1999. His investment paid off and in 2020, the establishment won two Chef’s Hats in the Age’s Good Food Guide.
The restaurant is typically open from Wednesday to Sunday from noon, and seven days a week in summer. Dinner runs from 6.30 pm on both Friday and Saturday.
Red Hill Estate
Owner Frank Fabrizio describes his ideal wines as those with “elegance, regional character, finesse & classic style”, and that should give you an idea of what to expect at Red Hill winery.
Founded in 1989, Red Hill is more than just a winery, its spectacular views out over the ocean towards Phillip Island make it a scenic destination in its own right.
Visitors have this outstanding view at the glass-walled Max’s Restaurant, a top-class establishment focussing on local and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Main Ridge Estate
Although many claims to be winemaking pioneers on the Mornington Peninsula, Main Ridge Estate has the honor of being the first licensed vineyard in the region in modern times.
Priding its heritage, Main Ridge was established at Red Hill in 1975 by Nat and Rosalie White. Concentrating on pinot noir and chardonnay, Main Ridge’s range has won numerous industry awards being dubbed an “icon of the region” and a “grand cru” vineyard of the Mornington Peninsula.
The Main Ridge’s on-site restaurant is known as The Larder and offers light and seasonal lunches to visitors from midday until 4 pm every weekend.
As you can see, their new owners are friendly and it has a lovely vibe to it. The excellent wines that Main Ridge has produced for decades continue to be produced and the restaurant is a lovely spot for lunch.
Willow Creek Vineyard
Situated in Merricks North, Willow Creek Vineyard is a kind of dual project with its restaurant, Rare Hare, receiving just as much prominence in its advertising.
With a focus on chardonnay and pinot noir, Willow Creek’s professionals pride themselves on tending their vines with a light touch, allowing the landscape the freedom to work its own magic.
While the restaurant and vineyard are currently closed, wine can be bought from the cellar door from 12 till 4 pm every Friday and Saturday, and some of the Rare Hare’s delectable meals can be ordered online if you can manage to snatch it up in time.
Read on below if you’d like to see the best wine tours for a day trip from Melbourne, or where to stay at a Mornington Peninsula vineyard.
Wineries Day Trips from Melbourne
Here are the best three wineries day trips on the Mornington Peninsula but see below for all available wineries tours.
Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries Accommodation
Here are three of the best places to stay at the wineries of the Mornington Peninsula: