Archives for posts with tag: Northway Downs

I’m annoyed with myself that I haven’t posted anything for such a long time, but as you know, life can seriously get in the way.  The cellar doors on the Mornington Peninsula still exist and are very much open for business.  To my dismay though Northway Downs has shut up shop, for the time being at least.  This was a brilliant cellar door – only open one Sunday a month, but when it was you get could lashings of superb Austrian themed food at very reasonable prices and live music thrown in for good measure.  It always turned out to be a great afternoon at Northway Downs.

Northway Downs closes but an iconic venue opens for business in the form of Point Leo Estate.  The architecture of this estate is truly magnificent.  The entrance alone – passing through the “sound torus” – is very impressive.  The cellar door space and restaurant have a superb outlook over Westernport Bay.  And just when you’re getting your head round that, there is a sculpture park to visit with some very significant works.  In terms of the Point Leo wines on offer at the cellar door – well they aren’t as magnificent as the surroundings to be perfectly honest.  There is room for improvement there, but I’m sure that will come with time.  The restaurant and Laura, the fine dining restaurant, have been pretty much packed out since the opening, which is a testament to the cuisine on offer.  Definitely worth trying, but all this magnificence comes with an appropriate price tag.

All this coming and going of cellar doors set me thinking about a different kind of cellar door “map” – one not based on physical location, but rather on when they were open.  So I gathered together all my MPVA maps going back to 2003 and began to plot it all out – and for my 100th post this is what I hoped to be able to present to you.  Unfortunately it still needs work to be attractive, but I can tell you I have identified over 100 cellar doors recorded at different times on those maps.  There are five “Red Dragons” – cellar doors that have been open every day since the 2003 map.   There are ten “Cellar Door Legends” – places that have been open in some form since the 2003 map.  It also reveals the comings and goings of cellar doors and thus to an extent, the dramas of their owners.  Some exist but simply live “off map”.  Some simply shut up shop, some transition to new owners and new names and some burn down!  Still a work in progress.

To end on a very positive note, the 2018 vintage was most excellent.  Across the board the vineyards were reporting low disease pressure, great fruit and lots of it – so much so that a lot of fruit became available for sale.  I think the wineries, in some cases, had more than they could process.  So when the wines appear next year I am hoping for great things!

Mornington Peninsula Vineyards small v01

Those Peninsula vineyards …




Best value diningNorthway Downs.  It remains the same crazy Austrian themed carry-on that it’s always been, but you can guarantee a good time, great oompah music and the best schnitzels on the peninsula.  A most excellent afternoon out.

Best fine diningSalix at Willow Creek.  This is unfortunately a celebration of things now lost.  Last week Salix shut up shop at Willow Creek as the new owners of the property push ahead with their plans to build a conference centre.  The restaurant has been running there for around eleven years – I remember being emotionally moved by venison sausages and puy lentils, and a fabulous scallop dish.  Amazing food, a great venue and excellent service.  I for one will miss you Salix – so long and thanks for all the confit!

Best Sparkling Wine at a cellar doorStonier.  Their 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir blend is brilliant.  The Rose is fabulous too.

Best Chardonnay at a cellar doorYabby Lake.  The thing about the cellar door at Yabby Lake is that it is consistently good – no matter what you ask for.  Dropping in for a Chardonnay on the way home from Mornington is a real treat, and it doesn’t get much better than the Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Chardonnay.

Best Pinot Noir at a cellar doorHurley.  The Garamond – stunning.  You just know when you’ve found something special, and this is it.  A great flagship wine for the Mornington Peninsula.

Best other white at a cellar doorTucks Ridge.  For just about everything non-Chardonnay really.  The winemaker, Michael Kyberd, has produced a great range of whites which are excellent examples of their varietals – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Savagnin.  If you’re not sure how these should taste, head on down to Tuck’s Ridge.

Best other red at a cellar door100 Hunts Shiraz.  This was available at the Merricks General Store, and is a great example of a Mornington Peninsula Shiraz.

Best overall cellar door experience – Merricks General Store.  An inspirational example of what you can do with an old shed on a country road.  It has a good range of wines to taste, coffee, food and a produce store – and it’s all so gorgeous darlink!  Honourable mentions in this category have to go to: Polperro, Stumpy Gully Vineyard, Moorooduc Estate and Paringa.

Hastings Rules – we don’t count Main Ridge Estate.  Nat and Rosalie White are icons and would win most things most years, so they remain vinblue legends and do not have to fight it out with the rest of them.  But if you haven’t been to Main Ridge, then don’t delay.  Nat and Rosalie are moving on.

Best shed – I’ve taken out the best shed award this year – because I’ve run out of sheds to give it to.  everybody is going up market.  The best sheds are of course Elan Vineyard, Merricks Estate, Miceli.  Myrtaceae might count as a shed – it’s a very smart shed.

As you peruse your April May 2015 edition of Gourmet Traveller magazine you will enjoy the “Best Cellar Door Awards”.  Naturally I was intrigued by the winners in the Mornington Peninsula section.

The Star Cellar Door went to Moorooduc Estate.  This is a most excellent choice on many fronts, but Star Cellar Door?  Well I think on this occasion I will agree with GT but only because super cellar door person Emma has surfaced again there.  Emma and Kate are running the WSET courses again.  In their own words:

Emma Mordue and Kate McIntyre are running the WSET II again this year.  The course will run at Moorooduc on Tuesday evenings 6-8pm over 8 weeks, with the exam on week 9, and starts on the 31st March.

This is a course I must sign up for, and I can think of few better places to do it than Moorooduc Estate.

Best Large Cellar Door went to Yabby Lake and again I have to agree with GT.  I end up having a glass of Chardonnay at Yabby Lake on a regular basis and they have never put a foot wrong.  A most excellent choice.

Best Cellar Door and Cellar Door with Best FoodParadigm Hill.  Now this I find very problematic.  You may have noticed that I have never mentioned Paradigm Hill, and this is because you can’t just go and taste – you have to buy the tasting platter and go through a whole rigmarole.  Personally I find it very off-putting.  And food?  The vineyard is only open the first weekend of the month and as far as I know has no reputation as a restaurant at all.  The wine is good but I think in this case GT has really missed the mark.  For good food how about Salix, or Yabby Lake, or Ten Minutes by Tractor, or Stillwater, or Jones Road, and if you want to go totally Austrian Northway Downs!

Best Tasting ExperienceCrittenden Estate.  Yes, a most excellent cellar door, made even better by the restaurant Stillwater which has always produced beautiful food.  Crittenden has for a long time had the biggest range of wines available for tasting, from at least five distinct labels – it can be quite a daunting prospect.  Just recently they have opened their “Crittenden Wine Centre” – which I have yet to try.  This “has introduced an exciting new way of experiencing wine on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula” – OMG!

Best Additional ExperienceFoxeys Hangout.  Yes, I think I can go with this one too.  I spent a very enjoyable lunch there a little while back, and the Foxeys Hangout Pinot Noir is a good example of Peninsula Pinot.

So not a bad effort from GT.  I must get on and do my own awards for 2014.