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Published: February 21st 2016
Red Hill Estate
View from Max's Restaurant across the vineyards to the sea.
The morning after returning from Great Ocean Road we headed off to Mornington Peninsula, southeast of Melbourne, one of the winery regions in Australia. Again we took things slowly. We drove south along the coast, past splendid beach houses and gardens, and made a stopover in Rickett’s Point in Beaumaris, a café with a wonderful view of Port Phillip Bay. From there we continued onto the Peninsula. Mizzi had booked a bed and breakfast not far from Red Hill, where many of the famous wineries are. We checked in and then drove to Red Hill Estate to have lunch at the famous Red Hill Estate. We had lunch a famous Max’s Restaurant
on Red Hill Estate
, a restaurant that has great food and offers a fantastic view across vineyards down onto Port Phillip Bay. The food was fantastic, and so was the wine. The waiter was so enthusiastic about the food and wine and explained to us which combinations of foods and wines he loved most that we almost asked him to pull up a chair and have lunch with us. I love it when people love their work so much and are really passionate about what they sell. After lunch we continued to
The sculpture park, surrounded by vineyards.
, where we did some wine tasting and went for a walk into the sculpture park on the estate. It displays modern art arranged between vineyards and is rather nice.
Afterwards we went to Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens
, a park where there are different types of maze. One is the classical hedge maze. In order to make visitors explore the entire maze there is a challenge: one has to find painted tiles that are located in all four corners of the two halves of the maze. Another maze is made of lavender. You just need to find your way through from one end to the other, which is pretty easy because you can see where you have to go. Or so one would think. This idea proved to be totally wrong when we tried to find our way to the centre of the rose maze. We could see where we wanted to end up, but it took us several attempts to get there. The park also has some areas that are not a maze, for example a herbal garden, a fairy garden, and a well and pond. It was a hot day and we were almost by ourselves, which was of course
great because like this nobody could spoil the challenge. But because it was hot ultimately we decided that we needed a break and drove down to the beach so sit underneath some trees and read our books.
When looking for a winery where we could have dinner and a glass of wine later on we found out that most of them close between 4 and 5 pm. So we went to The Epicurean
, a restaurant located in a former shed close to what used to be the railway station. They serve pizza and pasta and the place is designed nicely, but a bit noisy.
The next morning we went on a Horseback Winery Tour
. The idea was to go horseback riding with two guides who would take us to two different wineries. The group was rather mixed, with some of us never having ridden a horse before. Mizzi and I were the only ones who had several years of experience. The two guides gave us a quick intro into how to ride the horses. Then all of us mounted their horses that had been selected for us according to our previous experience. The horses were extremely well-trained. All of them followed
the horse walking in front of them. They were totally relaxed and not scared easily, be it by cars, birds suddenly flying up from bushes, or other horses. On the other hand it was not necessary to put too much effort into making the horse move. My experience is that usually on tours like this horses are either really nervous or (in most cases) are really slow. So I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the ride.
We stopped at the Green Olive at Red Hill
, where we tasted wine, but also various types of spread and pasta sauces. Everything was very tasty, but I particularly loved their excellent Puttanesca pasta sauce. The other stopover was Mock Orchard
, where we tasted different types of cider and, most interestingly, freeze-dried apples, bananas, and strawberries that are wonderful sweets without any added sugar or preservatives.
After getting back to the stables we said goodbye to our horses and then drove over to a restaurant where we had lunch – pasta, pizza, and salad, and wines, all of it included in our tour. After lunch we went to pick up our luggage from the bed and breakfast and then wanted to have a coffee and some dessert
at Crittenden Estate
. We entered the very posh restaurant and told the waiter that we wanted coffee and something sweet. “Beautiful”, he said. It was obvious that he did not mean it. It was like this all the time we were there. Service was not good and his friendliness was hypocritical. The experience later on when we went into the cellar for wine tasting was not much better. They had four set packages of wine that you could taste, and you had to decide between one of them. Moreover, the tasting was ten dollars unless you bought two bottles of wine. I can totally relate to the wineries having to charge some money for the tasting. However, most of the other wineries only charged five dollars unless you bought one bottle of wine. And you could taste whatever wine they had. So all in all Crittenden was not such a pleasant experience.
The last winery we went to was Port Phillip Estate
, where the building the cellar and restaurant is in looks like the house the villain in some James Bond movie lives in. It was super modern, with no window on the side where the parking spots were. The tasting was
Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden IV
The Rose Maze after we had finally made it to the centre.
pleasant though and the wine was good. So we rounded up our wine tasting trip with a nice experience. From Port Phillip Estate we drove back into Melbourne and had a lazy evening at Mizzi’s place, enjoying pasta alla Puttanesca and nice wine. And I was looking forward to a few more days in Melbourne with Mizzi, but that’s the next story.
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