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Wine

Wine Traveller Mornington Peninsula

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a slice of paradise with its alluring blend of calm bays, eucalypt forests, farmland and surfable southern swells. It is also a mecca for quality produce, from strawberries to apples, olives to cheese, and of course, wine. The cool maritime climate allows for elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with a host of alternative varietals, and it is the recognised birthplace of Pinot Grigio in Australia.

While wine has long attracted visitors, the region’s culinary offerings have also been garnering plenty of praise of late. Many are located in wineries and one of the first you’ll find just off the Mornington Peninsula Freeway from Melbourne is Yabby Lake. Winemaker Tom Carson is renowned in these parts and his award-winning wines provide the perfect match to the delicious seasonal fare served up by chef Simon West at their relaxed cellar door and restaurant. Think asparagus and gorgonzola tart enjoyed on the verandah overlooking the vineyards. 

Not far down the freeway near Dromana is a man and a place of legendary status – Garry Crittenden from Crittenden Estate. Garry planted one of the first vineyards in the region over 35 years ago. These days, his son Rollo is winemaker, producing classy flagships and unique alternative varietals. On the picturesque Crittenden Estate, you’ll find gorgeous lakeside villas and the delightful Stillwater at Crittenden Restaurant. Originally a small café built by Garry’s wife Margaret, it was taken over by dynamic duo Zac and Jacqui Poullier, who impress with a menu of shared plates and a la carte dishes such as corn fed duck breast with boulangere potato, pumpkin puree and local cherries. 

Just up the road sits Foxey’s Hangout. Two decades ago, brothers Michael and Tony Lee made a tree change, trading in their Melbourne-based hospitality business for a life making wine on the Peninsula. Pop in for a wine tasting, then grab a deck chair on the verandah and enjoy seasonal shared plates while overlooking the sloping vineyard.

Everything and anything

You’ll find both ends of the food spectrum in this amazing region. Rebecca Ettridge started Wombat Café, the Mornington Peninsula’s first all vegan café, which sits in a row of shops opposite a series of walking trails towards Dromana. It serves breakfast, lunch and a range of take home meals as well as awesome organics smoothies such as the High Roller – banana, chia seeds, peanut butter, vanilla and almond milk topped with peanut crumble. 

Up the rise to Red Hill and along Arthur’s Seat Road, you’ll find one of the Peninsula’s new gems behind an old Liberty service station; Red Gum BBQ – a low and slow American-style barbecue joint run by enterprising young couple Melissa and Martin Goffin. What started out as barbecues for friends grew into pop ups at markets and finally, they took the leap, left their jobs and opened Red Gum in an old truck mechanic shed. Big, open and with a rockin’ country music sound track, it is fun for the whole family. Try a range of local brews while sampling smoked specialities such as beef brisket and pulled pork with sides of cornbread and Melissa’s secret slaw recipe. 

Perfectly paired

From Red Hill, head towards Merricks  and you’ll come to the impressive Polperro, where unflappable owner and winemaker Sam Coverdale has created a triple treat: stylish wines, luxurious villas and a stunning bistro. It has outdoor seating for the summer and a cosy fireplace in the winter to enjoy dishes such as grass-fed beef fillet with truffle custard, pea purée, asparagus and beef jus. 

Not far away is a winery and restaurant of renown, Paringa Estate. Chef Adam Beckett presides over a seasonal menu that has earned a chef’s hat for five straight years. His King George whiting with pea crumb, broccoli and half turned potatoes is nearing acclaimed status.

Ten Minutes by Tractor is equally revered in the dining stakes. Chef Stuart Bell’s Fromagarie Menu is perfect if you’re on the go, or settle in for his eight-course degustation if you have all afternoon. 
If you’re keen for food and activity, head towards Shoreham to Montalto. They have quality wines and a recently renovated restaurant that makes use of produce from their vege patch. They also have an amazing sculpture-in-the-vines trail through their vineyards, which is a great way to walk off a decadent lunch. 

Jumping Jackalopes

Without doubt, the most talked about development on the Peninsula in years is  Jackalope Hotel. Built onto the existing structures at Willow Creek Vineyard at Merricks North, it offers super high end accommodation, whose every hallway and open space is a veritable art gallery. It is also home to the mind-blowing Doot Doot Doot restaurant, where chef Martin Webster’s edgy cuisine is wowing diners and has already scored a hat. Its 1200-bottle wine list is simply stupendous. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, the same venue hosts Rare Hare cafe, whose wood-fired oven signals more casual but still impressive lunch fare.

Not far from Jackalope is the iconic Merricks General Wine Store, which is a welcoming café, cellar door and an art gallery all in one. Then head south to the hamlet of Flinders. Here, you’ll find a quaint General Store, whose shelves stock gourmet goods and local beers, Georgie & Bass, a café and cookery school, and  Mornington Peninsula Chocolates.

If you’re down this way, follow the  southern coastline past world famous golf courses and the RACV’s spectacular state-of-the-art resort at Cape Schanck (due to be completed in April) and head towards Rosebud to find Blue Mini Eatery & Emporium. Owner and all-round go-getter Tracey Fleming has filled an old bowling alley with eclectic furniture and works by local artists (most of which are on sale) to create a place where you feel instantly at home. Chef John Ward dishes up a menu of fresh, zesty organic fare, while Tracey, who caters events all over the Peninsula, has recently launched Boneo Road Roasters, roasting her own coffee using ethically sourced beans. 

Peninsula Produce

If you’re keen to get more intimate with the amazing food of the region, there are plenty of places where you can sample produce fresh from the source. 
At Benton Rise at Tuerong, Ryan and Deb Sharpley have a perfectly balanced aquaponics system sustainably farming veges and salads alongside rainbow trout. Ryan also grows exotic mushrooms, which he supplies to local restaurants. In addition, every weekend, they host the local farmers’ markets in an old ‘red rattler’ train carriage. Get there early, as once the produce is gone, it’s gone.
And there’s lots more. You can sample an amazing array of bee delights at Pure Peninsula Honey, try fresh goat’s cheese (and pat baby goats) at Main Ridge Dairy, pick berries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, crunch on fresh apples and down ciders at Mock Red Hill, or taste estate-grown olive oil over lunch in a gorgeous setting at Green Olive at Red Hill. 

The more time you spend on the Mornington Peninsula, the more you appreciate this remarkable region, its glorious produce and the wonderful characters plating up perfection.
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Top Adelaide Hills Wineries and Cellar Doors
The stunning Adelaide Hills region sits in the centre of South Australia’s famous wine growing regions, located only a short drive from the city of Adelaide. Famed for its premium cool climate wines, especially its distinct take on Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, the Adelaide Hills region is winning awards at a record rate. One of the largest geographic wine growing regions in Australia, there are over 90 wine labels and 48 cellar doors to choose from. Go for lunch or stay for the whole weekend, our cellar door guide will help you to get the most of your next visit to this spectacular wine lovers and foodie haven. Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard The Mt Lofty Ranges 5-star Cellar Door and chef hatted restaurant are set at the one of the highest points in the Adelaide Hills. It’s not only the superb cool climate wines and fantastic food that attracts visitors from far and wide; the views sweeping down across the estate vineyards and taking in the stunning Mount Lofty Ranges, are spectacular too. In warmer months, you can take it all in sitting out on one of several level deck tables, or in a corner private room, with large windows and bi-fold doors opening wide to breathe in the fresh mountain air. An open fireplace heats indoors through frosty Adelaide Hills winters, while three split-level decks offer a multitude of areas for soaking up a little sun. An alluring menu shows off a delicious range of premium local produce, with tasting menus for vegetarians and vegans also available. 166 Harris Road, Lenswood Open daily for lunch and tastings 11am to 5pm Visit the Mt Lofty Ranges website K1 by Geoff Hardy Renowned for its stunning lakeside location, K1’s vineyard views are every bit as spectacular as the award-winning wine on offer. Sample delicious cool climate varieties, considered among the best single estate wines in Australia, while seated at Geoff’s wooden tasting bench, hand-crafted from 400-year-old red gum. For an extra special tasting experience stay on to try a selection of the museum or reserve stock for a small fee that is redeemable on any purchase. 159 Tynan Rd, Kuitpo Open daily 11am to 5pm Visit the Wines by Geoff Hardy website Shaw + Smith Shaw + Smith specialise in growing and perfecting the classic varieties that the Adelaide Hills region is known for: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Grandiose in size and sleek in style, the modern tasting room operates like a restaurant, with table service and guided wine flight and cheese options starting at $20 per head. Lunch is available on Fridays only where groups are treated to a selection of wines matched with a delicious meal, and a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the impressive vineyard. 136 Jones Road, Balhannah Open daily 11am to 5pm Visit the Shaw + Smith websit e The Lane Vineyard With magnificent views across the vineyard from the bright and stylishly modern tasting room, the Lane’s knowledgeable and friendly staff are on hand for table service style wine tastings. Wine flight options start at $5 for simple wine-only selections, or $20 for options that include wines paired with delicious treats from executive chef James Brinklow. For those in need of more than a bite-sized snack, enjoy a leisurely lunch paired with wines from the same single estate vineyard you can admire from the comfort of the beautiful restaurant. 5 Ravenswood Lane, Hahndorf Open daily 10am to 4pm Visit The Lane Vineyard website Howard Vineyard The beauty of the gum trees, terraced lawns and rolling vines that surround the family-owned Howard Vineyard impress visitors before they even sample the award-winning wines. Try cool climate Cabernet Francs, Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris and Sparkling wines before settling in beside the roaring fire with your favourite glass. Active guests can take a walk around the manicured gardens or play a spot of croquet on the lawn. The family friendly Clover + Stone restaurant is open from Wednesday – Friday, with a special set menu on offer for Sunday lunch.  Head Chef and former MasterChef contestant, Heather Day creates a fantastic South-East Asian inspired menu, perfectly complementing Howard Vineyard’s best wines. Lot 1, 53 Bald Hills Road, Nairne Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm Visit the Howard Vineyard website Bird in Hand Visit the Bird in Hand winery to taste some of the very best wines South Australia has to offer while dining at award-winning restaurant The Gallery for lunch. Relax at the gorgeous cellar door to sample a superb range of premium traditional varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, through to sensational alternate varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Montepulciano and Arneis. Wander through the original barrel hall, enjoy the carefully curated artworks and luxury retail experience, or linger longer to sample local cheeses and antipasti platters with your favourite glass of wine in hand. Bird in Hand Rd & Pfeiffer Rd, Woodside  Open daily (Mon to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am to 5pm) Visit the Bird in Hand website Deviation Road Husband and wife team Hamish and Kate Laurie are the owners of this divine boutique winery. The cellar door deck that overlooks the wine garden and home block vines is the perfect place to relax outdoors in the sunshine and sample their great range of wines. Taste from their range of artisanal premium cool climate wines; from Sparkling and aromatic whites to basket pressed red wines. Winemaker Kate trained at Lycée Viticole d’Avize in Champagne, no doubt helping them to perfect their award-winning Sparkling wine! Book in for a tutored wine flight or master class or simply sit and enjoy your chosen wine with one of the delicious tasting plates on offer daily. 207 Scott Creek Road, Longwood Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Deviation Road website For more cellar door guides, visit our dedicated Wine Regions section.
Life
California Dreaming
Words by Paul Diamond on 27 Jun 2017
No longer just the domain of superstars of the screen, Los Angeles is adding some new leading lights to its food and wine scene. As the second most populated city in America, Los Angeles is often the entry point for Australians wanting to explore the home of the brave. For food and wine lovers, the City of Angels is often a pit stop on the way to the urbane dining rooms of San Francisco with the perception being that fine  food and wine play second fiddle to the lure of Hollywood. But things have recently changed, and LA’s food and drink scene now dazzles as much as any movie star. So it’s well worth spending a few days exploring the refreshed food culture; from the high end down, there’s plenty to taste. But first some advice. If you want to check out the celebrity haunts or local favourites like Venice at sunset, you’ll need to hire a car. Because while getting your head around driving on the right after 15+ hours on a plane can be daunting, the public transport is even more so. But once you’ve secured some wheels, avoid the 405 anywhere near the morning and afternoon peaks, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the granddaddy of all traffic jams and LA drivers take no prisoners. For those really wanting to experience the LA bubble, look no further than Beverly Hills. Originally built as a farming ranch, the Hills became its own city at the beginning of the first World War. When compared to the rest of Los Angeles, it’s like Beverly Hills has its own atmosphere and it’s easy to see why the rich and famous choose 90210 as their postcode. Low Key Luxury
For accommodation, it’s hard to beat the  Montage Beverly Hills  . Situated in the middle of the ‘golden triangle’ – the city blocks wedged between the borders of North Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and North Rexford Drive – the Montage is classically elegant, but refreshingly understated, and while it promotes low key luxury, everyone gets treated like a millionaire. If you want to shake off the jet-lag and unwind, the Montage has draped cabanas by the rooftop pool overlooking the city – a great way to get some peaceful perspective. Inside, the lavishly tiled Grecian atrium features a mineral ‘wellness’ pool and a swathe of spa choices. As for food, the Montage’s main restaurant,  Georgie  , really helps sets this hotel apart. One of a chain of national restaurants, Georgie was built by New York chef, cookbook author, TV personality and American Iron Chef winner,  Geoffrey Zakarian . The restaurant is Geoffrey’s ode to his son, and while the food reflects his classical French training, it also acknowledges America’s many cultural influences. Geoffrey blends and melds Italian, South American, French, German Asian and Middle Eastern touches with quality local ingredients and the result is a refreshing and balanced range of choices, executed with a light touch. Wine-lovers have plenty to choose from too with over 800 drops from all around the world on offer, and at more affordable prices than we could access in Australia. Their ‘by the glass’ Coravin menu is a great place to start with Coravin being a gadget that allows wine to be extracted from the bottle without opening it. This means air can’t get in and spoil the remainder, giving restaurants an economic means to offer wines by the glass that are normally only available by the bottle. Wine and Cheese If you are thirsty for more wine, head north a couple of blocks up North Canon Drive to  Wally’s Beverly Hills Vinoteca  . Wally’s is part wine library, part wine bar, part bottle shop, offering an astounding range of wine from all over the world. It’s a wine lover’s paradise where you can browse thousands of wines, buy a bottle and take it home, or have someone open your choice to enjoy with the great range of food, cheese or charcuterie. Speaking of cheese, a quick stroll will get you to  The Cheese Store on North Beverly Drive  . Norbert Wabnig has been behind the counter since the late 70s and his passion for cheese is displayed in every nook and cranny of this gourmet haven. Shop Till You're Broke
If $10k handbags and Ferraris appeal, then a walk along Rodeo Drive will have you wide eyed. Considered one of the most exclusive shopping strips in the world, Rodeo Drive is where all the stars go. Giorgio, Valentino and Tiffany keep Versace company alongside a well-heeled Jimmy Choo. But when you’re all shopped out and in need of more wine, a day trip to Santa Barbara is a must. Head north up the 101 past Oxnard and Ventura and you will soon find yourself in the downtown area of this relaxed Spanish-style town nestled underneath the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains. Regarded as the American Riviera, Santa Barbera has a Mediterranean climate that makes the production of a wide range of wine varieties possible. Most of the vineyards, wineries and cellar doors are located up in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys to the north, however, there’s a cluster of great cellar doors in the heart of Santa Barbara. The  Urban Wine Train  boasts 29 cellar doors where you can taste an impressive range of varieties and styles. From classic Euro-style Shiraz and Cabernet to new world Chardonnay and Pinot, rustic Tempranillos and Italian varietals of every shape and style. Santa Barbara’s wine offering is expansive and when you experience its warmth and hospitality, you’ll wish you had more time. Aussies Doing Us Proud
Back south in LA, try to get a booking at  Maude  and see how Curtis Stone is getting on after winning  LA Weekly’s Best Restaurant in LA in 2015  . With an intimate 24 seats, Maude offers a ten-course  chef’s tasting menu that features a different seasonal ingredient every month. From limes in January to truffles in December, it’s an innovative approach that’s seen the culinary team create over 1000 dishes so far. Read our recent interview with Curtis Stone. Another Australian flying high is Louis Tikaram, the former chef at  Sydney’s Longrain  who’s doing great things with Thai flavours at  EP Asian Eating House  in West Hollywood. With talent like this on offer, Los Angeles is now pumping with vibrant energy and flavour. The over stacked plates of classic Americana and tired European staples of the past have been replaced with exciting and accessible food styles and flavours that reflect the diversity of modern Los Angeles. So while the movie stars of Hollywood might be carefully watching their waists, a trip to modern LA will have you expanding yours.    
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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