Fancy yourself a connoisseur of fine wine? Maybe you’re just getting into vino and looking to expand your horizons? Wherever your expertise lies, beginner, maestro or somewhere in between, if wonderful wine paired with great food and good times are the words that describe your perfect weekend, heading out of Melbourne and down to the coast is your best bet. The only question that remains is simply this; which area do you choose? Mornington Peninsula or Bellarine Peninsula?
Both have plenty to offer, no doubt, from newer wineries just starting to earn their reputation to some of the oldest and most distinguished wineries in all of Australia. Both locations also offer spectacular views, restaurants galore and accommodations both luxurious and laid-back, making the choice all-the-more difficult. In this winery battle of the grapes, we’ll give you all the info and details you need to make that choice. (Or you can do like we do and visit both, we won’t tell.)
Scotchman’s Hill / Bellarine Peninsula
If you think ‘oldest’ means ‘outdated’ or ‘boring’, you don’t yet know enough about wines. (Hey, just saying.) Established in 1982, Scotchman’s Hill is one of the oldest wineries on the Bellarine Peninsula and has grown from a tiny little place with one tank and 5 barrels too, well, something much bigger and so much better. Known as the go-to winery for those who truly know their vintages, you’ll find that the staff at Scotchman’s know their stuff as well as you do and, if you tell them what floats your boat and tickles your fancy, they’ll hook you up with some of the finest wines on the coast.
Montalto / Mornington Peninsula
If you’re the kind of person that can stare off into the distance and lose yourself in the beauty of nature while sipping happily on a glass of their award-winning Estate Pinot Noir, Montalto is soon to be your favourite place. Adding to the view are the spectacular bird sanctuary and sculpture garden, but it’s the wines that will bring you back again and again. The cooler climate here has given rise to a truly sumptuous shiraz and chardonnay, among others. Try them all with Montalto’s Discovery Tasting in their amazing, custom-built wine tasting room. And remember, their spectacular views are no extra charge.
Curlewis Winery / Bellarine Peninsula
Picky about your Pinot Noir? If yes, Curlewis Winery offers you the pick of the litter and a perfect place to be pleasantly surprised. Warm, cozy and inviting, they put the bow in ’boutique’, with vines that are pruned by hand and wines that are served in…test tubes? Yes, it’s a little out-of-the-ordinary but you’ll be amazed at how much easier they make it to taste and compare all of their fab fermentations. And when we say boutique, we mean it, as Curlewis is a winery where, more often than not, owners Stefano and Leesa will be doing the pouring and entertaining.
Tuck’s Ridge / Mornington Peninsula
A bit more laid-back and relaxed than their fancy-pants neighbour Montalto, Tuck’s Ridge still satisfies with a wide range of delish wines and relaxed vibes. While missing out on the views here would surely be a shame given the sweet presentation of the vines strewn out on the gorgeous hillside, we highly recommend Tucks’ ‘Taste the Rainbow’, a blind tasting that will have you smiling ear to ear while you do your best to taste all the sweet sensations dancing on your tongue. We recommend visiting when the weather’s warm so that you can take advantage of the simple yet comfy outdoor decor and the chance to enjoy a perfect, wine-flavoured picnic.
Jack Rabbit Vineyard / Bellarine Peninsula
Looking for the most magnificent views as you sip your shiraz or pour yourself a pinot? Then Jack Rabbit Vineyard should be your choice as they offer one of the most impressive views of Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne. Their wine list is just as impressive, including the aforementioned pinot noir and a frizzante that will put a smile on the face of anyone who loves their wine sweet and fine. Jack Rabbit Winery also offers 2 of the better restaurants in the area, the casual House Of Jack Rabbit cafe and more formal Jack Rabbit restaurant. Unlike their namesake, whatever you choose for your wining and dining, you won’t want to dart away from the Jack Rabbit anytime soon.
Making your choice between the Bellarine Peninsula or Mornington Peninsula.
We know choosing between Bellarine and Mornington isn’t an easy choice. That being said, if getting a view of all the wineries between Queenscliff and Drysdale suits your fancy, passing through the beautiful Swan Bay, don’t miss The Blues Train. For wine lovers who dig the blues and like to dig into great food while they listen and sip, The Blues Train offers 4 live blues shows to enjoy while you travel Queenscliff to Drysdale and back. Saturday night on the Blues Train and Sunday touring our wonderful wineries would make for a fantastic weekend indeed.
And hey, if you simply can’t make up your mind and decide to visit both Mornington and Bellarine, the Searoad Ferry will get you back and forth in style. Plan it right and you can enjoy a delicious brunch while you go from one to the other, but remember to save room for all the delicious wines to come on both sides!