Wine-dy Roads at Red Hill
It was with no small amount of glee that I was given the opportunity to go to two of Red Hill’s best wineries for work. Yes, finally my dreams are coming true – I am getting paid to visit wineries.
Winery One: Max’s at Red Hill
I motor up the driveway and at the top, I have a ‘ooooh wooooow’ moment. The view. Is. Stunning. My day has just gotten better. I park the car and walk to the restaurant and am greeted by white linen table cloths to the right, a gift shop selling local produce in the middle and a cellar door to the left. Max (eponymous Max) is waiting there to greet me and takes me on a tour of the property. Burnished golden vines fringe a view that takes in the far distant bay.
Max, who is utterly charming, takes me inside and gives me a tasting of his exceptional (again with the ‘ooooh woooooow’) Aged Morello Cherry Balsamic Vinegar, as well as his heavily awarded Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Then off we go up the road for a scout around the converted Town Hall-turned-lodge. It has its own vegetable and herb garden, laden with baby eggplants, sage and beans that guests can help themselves to. I am left with just one question – how soon can I move here?
Winery Two: Montalto
I trundle down the hill, only to be met by yet another exquisite cellar door. Think Tuscany in the Autumn as imagined by someone who has never been to Tuscany. A sandstone terrace overlooks acres of vines, a kitchen garden overflowing with late Spring bounty and contemporary sculptures dotted around the property. I am taken through a tasting by a handsome Californian (I try to refrain from having Bottle Shock flashbacks. This guy is a wine hippie; the best kind of cellar door keeper) and then I am ushered into the restaurant for a meal of beetroot salad with goat’s cheese and microherbs, followed by pan seared scallops with figs and prosciutto.
Heidi, a second generation Montaltan, comes down to meet me after lunch and we stroll around the property. She tells me that Montalto is her parent’s retirement property and that the decisions made are largely based on happiness, not commerce. Nonetheless, this is a well-run property with small concerts in the vineyards, an annual sculpture prize, a hatted restaurant and (my personal favourite) a service where you show up, collect a picnic basket and wander off to a designated area where a table is set up for you in some far-distant corner. This appeals to my sense of romance as well as my hatred of other people (half kidding).
I strongly recommend that you visit Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula next time you go anywhere near the South-East of Australia. I know I work for these people but you know what, I am getting cranky in my old age and I wouldn’t post this if I didn’t mean it. Go there and God help you if you don’t take me with you.
To visit the Mornington Peninsula, check out Wine Compass, a fantastic local tour operator.
Tell me, fellow winos, where are your favourite wineries? And why haven’t you taken me?