Mornington Peninsula - Regional Overview
By Mark Smith
The Mornington Peninsula has been a popular tourist destination since the 1920s. Back then, visitors made their way into the district by gravel road or paddle steamer. Today, Victoria’s premier cool climate wine region is a comfortable one hour’s drive south-east of the city.
There’s a whole lot more to enjoy here than the beaches, farms and orchards that made it a visitor drawcard in the last century. The peninsula is bounded by three bodies of water and 40,000 years of human history. So whether you’re into surfing and snorkelling – or mulling over middens and meandering through markets – Mornington is simply a tourist delight.
Escape the suburbs and re-discover your senses.
There’s no shortage of places to go and people to see. The restaurants and beachside cafés here offer outstanding regional food and wine. What could be better than sipping Chardonnay against a backdrop of breathtaking bay and bushland views?
And when you do head out onto the myriad by-ways and highways that criss-cross the countryside, who knows where you might end up? There are dozens of scenic routes and lookouts to investigate.
Many of the peninsula’s sealed surfaces lead to golf courses and forested reserves. There are more than 250 planned walks on offer. Remember to pack some of the region’s handmade cheeses and micro-brewed beers.
Discover the elusive X factor that sets the Mornington Peninsula apart from its peers. Be sure to:
- Exchange pleasantries at the vineyard cellar door. That calloused hand of welcome probably grew the grapes and made the wine.
- Excite the kids with a dolphin and seal spotting cruise, or a trip Australia’s largest koala community.
- Explore Cape Schanck Lighthouse, and take the boardwalk to the beach and its dramatic rock platform.
- Expand your mind with a journey back in time to Point Nepean and its nineteenth century labyrinth of tunnels and military fortifications.
- Express delight as peninsula penguins and pelicans fulfil their daily rituals.
Mornington Peninsula wine trails are readily accessible by coach or by car. There’s no shortage of good wine to be enjoyed. The region is home to around 200 vineyards. Many are small and family-operated.
The peninsula’s cool maritime climate ensures that growing grapes and making wine here is among the most challenging to be found anywhere in Australia. That makes for superb Chardonnay and scintillating Pinot Noir.
With time to spare, you can investigate the region’s lesser wine gems. Exotic varieties like Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Barbera can be found as carefully tended here as they are in the fine wine regions of northern Europe. Lovers of Australia’s more traditional reds will discover the odd patch of top notch Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Special wines command special prices. Many producers complement their premium labels with more affordable yet equally stylish wines for everyday drinking. To find out what’s on offer, log on to individual vineyard web sites listed below. The Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association can help point the way.
- Melbourne Surrounds (VIC)
- Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
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