Although the wineries are relatively small, Mornington Peninsula's many different sites and climates produce an exotic array of wines.
Wine production on the Mornington Peninsula dates back to 1886, when Dromana wine won an honourable mention in the Intercontinental Exhibition in London. But like so many other Victorian wine regions by the 1920s many of the region's vineyards were abandoned or uprooted. In 1972 some aspiring vignerons recognised the dormant potential of the Mornington Peninsula for producing high quality, cool climate varieties. The Mornington Peninsula landscape is open, with gently undulating hills, rolling green pastures and tranquil vineyards. While the vineyard holdings are usually small, significant tracts of land are being given over to viticulture. Offering premium wines and regional cuisine only an hour from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula also has a long-standing reputation as a seaside playground thanks to its beaches, calm bays, natural beauty and world-class golf courses and tourist attractions. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the flagship varieties of the region.
The Mornington Peninsula is located one hour south of Melbourne.
First planted in 1886, the region experienced a viticultural renaissance in the early 1970s.
The region is currently home to more than 50 wineries.
Maritime cool climate.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the flagship varieties of the region.
Vines thrive in sheltered undulating valleys with plentiful winter/spring rainfall.
Fine food and wine and coastal scenery make the region a popular tourist destination.
Aromatic Pinot Gris and spicy Shiraz are new highlights.
Surrounded by Bass Strait, Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay, the Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia’s true maritime wine regions. In this part of the world, the prevailing wind is generally either from the north and west across Port Phillip Bay or from the south and east across Bass Strait. The maritime influence provides relatively high summer humidity, vine stress is low, sunshine hours are abundant, and rainfall is plentiful during winter and spring. The coincidence of late ripening and a prolonged gentle autumn result in fully ripe grapes with outstanding fruit flavours, high natural acidity and fine tannins.
There are four principal soil types. Hard mottled yellow duplex soils with a very distinct break marked by a thin, acid cement/sand pan between the surface soil and the underlying friable, well-drained clay are to be found in the Dromana area. Around Red Hill and Main Ridge, red soils of volcanic origin (kraznozems) predominate; these are very deep and fertile. In the Merricks area there are brown duplex soils, while much sandier soils are in evidence at Moorooduc.
Pinot Noir – There is an enormous range of styles to the region’s flagship variety, from a haunting elegance and lingering intensity through to the more complex, structured and rich expression of the land. The constant factor is the clear varietal character which is clearly pronounced throughout the different sub regions of the Peninsula. From cherry and raspberry flavours with soft tannins in the higher areas to more tannic, elegant yet assertive wines with plum fruit in the warmer areas. Mornington Peninsula winemakers understand Pinot Noir vines are fussy - they choose their homes with fastidious care, insisting on precise combinations of temperature, humidity, aspect and ripening time. Such special conditions are difficult to find in Australia, but the cool, green rolling hills and valleys of the Mornington Peninsula provide a perfect home.
Chardonnay - The Mornington Peninsula provides a diverse range of micro climates that are perfectly matched to the production of high quality chardonnay. The chardonnay flavours range from melon, citrus, stone fruits and fig with mineral and flinty aspects that are a pure and intense expression of specific sites, often complemented by soft and creamy texture that makes these wines so alluring. Chardonnay, more than any variety, benefits from the extraordinary natural acidity that the cool Mornington Peninsula climate can produce and accentuates the restraint and tight structure for which the region is renowned. In recent years many reviews have described how chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula provided the most pleasurable reward to those who had kept them in excess of ten years.
Pinot Gris and Grigio - Pinot Gris thrives in the region’s fertile soils and maritime climate with over 140 hectares currently planted. Pinot Gris produces soft, evocatively perfumed wines of surprising substance and complexity. Two distinct styles are made – the voluptuous ‘Gris’ and the svelte ‘Grigio’ which Italian wine producers tend to pick before full ripeness. Mornington Peninsula producers have explored both styles with acclaim.
Other varieties include a diverse range suited to specific sites including Shiraz.
Map Coordinates: 38° 20'S
Altitude: 25-250 metres (82-820 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1080-1570 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall: 320-386 millimetres (12.5-15.2 inches)
Mean January temperature: 18.8-20º C (66-68ºF)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 55%
Harvest: End March - early June
Sandro Mosele, Winemaker, Kooyong, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Kooyong Winery is focused on producing domain-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of exceptional quality and winemaker Sandro Mosele says the Mornington Peninsula region is ideal for this, with vineyards grown over a base parent rock of Baxter sandstone and with the soil being duplex clay of sedimentary origin.
"The focus for us is always in the vineyard, with meticulous attention to detail and an aim to produce the highest quality fruit. We have adapted a sustainable approach to all facets of the viticulture practice to ensure optimum fruit quality. Yields are paramount to quality and strictly controlled irrespective of the end product and all the fruit is hand picked and crafted into wine at the on-site winery,” Sandro says.
"The domain is composed of five vineyards, all located on our Tuerong property. Each vineyard has its own unique environment, which is reflected in the fruit it produces. The most expressive section of each vineyard is used to make the Single Vineyard range, with the best of the remaining vineyard area going to the Estate Blend.
"I believe in maximum expression of site for all the wines we produce and this is inherent in our winemaking philosophy. As a result, both primary and secondary fermentation are spontaneous and there is no fining, with minimal or no filtration of the wine prior to bottling.”