When it comes to quick and easy getaways from the Big Smoke, Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula must be one of Australia’s best. Located a little over an hour south of Melbourne, food-and wine-heaven is just a mini-road trip away from the VIC capital.
Here are my top tips for making the most of a weekend in the Mornington.
Where to eat and drink
Drinking beautiful wines and eating amazing food is high on my agenda for our two-night stay in the Mornington. Hubby and I give it a fair crack, but we hardly scratch the surface of all this region has to offer (Paul, if you’re reading this, we really do need to plan a return visit 😉).
It probably says a lot about my priorities that I made this lunch reservation before I’d even booked our accommodation. But when a restaurant convinces Phil Wood (ex-chef at Neil Perry’s Rockpool, among others) to move from Sydney to regional Victoria, you believe the hype.
We lunch at Laura, the more high-end of the two restaurants Woods oversees at the multi-million-dollar property.
With a set menu, the only decisions we need to make are how many courses (four, five or six – it was always going to be six 😉) and whether to match wines or not (always).
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Confessions of a foodie… Today’s winery lunch reservation was made well before we’d even booked flights for this getaway ✈️ Because #priorities 😜 And well, when @philacwood opens a new restaurant, you believe the hype 🙌 Happy to report Laura at the stunning @ptleoestate lived up to expectations 🍷🍴Hard to beat the Port Philip scallop pie with almond sauce but the Butternut pumpkin, chestnut and ginger dessert was a close second 😍
The seasonal menu features produce from the region. Case in point, the Cape Schanck olive oil (so good I buy some to take home) served with rich, buttery brioche to kick off proceedings.
The wine matchings are top-notch, the food excellent, with surprise elements that add to the theatre (I won’t spoil it for you), and the service outstanding.
Wotif Insider Tip: The property is also home to a stunning sculpture park and access is free for restaurant diners, so make time for that before or after your meal. Likewise, you should definitely factor in a wine-tasting.
We’re still there when the sun is setting, which is always a good sign of a great long lunch.
This was the spot recommended to us time and time again and I’m so glad we made a detour to add it to our packed itinerary! Wine regions tend to do indulgent, rich long lunches extremely well, but finding somewhere for a tasty, simple bite to eat can be a challenge. Foxeys Hangout nails the brief. They don’t take bookings in the small, informal space, but if it’s a full house, no worries! Put your name down, then head straight to the cellar door to sample their offering (I LOVE their sparkling shiraz) among the wine barrels. If nothing else, it’s a good way to decide what to have a full glass of at lunch 😉
Speaking of which, it’s all about small, seasonal share plates here. If the mushroom sausage rolls are on the menu, I highly recommend you go there! And the avocado with pancetta and walnuts goes down a treat.
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They had us at sausage rolls 😍 Because all that wine-tasting is hungry work 😋🍷Highly recommend @foxeyshangout 🦊 Put your name down for a table, sample their vinos in the cellar door while you wait (some of the best around), then settle in and enjoy the goodness of dishes like avocado with pancetta and walnuts 🥑🥓
I’m calling it. Some of the best wines we taste all weekend are at Yabby Lake. But the real surprise for me is the food offering. Wine region comfort food at its best!
Other wineries to add to your hit list:
Port Philip Estate – Sometimes the big, established cellar doors can lack atmosphere and character, but not here. Even non-wine drinkers have plenty to appreciate at Port Philip, with its spectacular architectural design, stunning vineyard views, and award-winning restaurant.
Quealy Wines – If Foxeys Hangout was the food option most recommended to us, Quealy Wines was the cellar door equivalent. More rustic than some of its neighbours, here you’ll find yourself right in the heart of the winery for a truly authentic Mornington experience.
10X Tractor – 10X Tractor’s main cellar door was sadly impacted by fire this year, but it’s well worth popping by their temporary set-up – and not just out of sympathy. These are wines you’ll want to sample and send home.
What to do (that doesn’t involve eating and drinking 😉)
Between all the wining and dining, we do manage to see a little of what else the Mornington has to offer. Here are some other ideas for your itinerary.
Soak up the nature vibes: The Mornington Peninsula is home to an amazing array of bush tracks. If you’re lucky, you might even run into some of the locals!
Get lost: The Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens is home to Australia’s oldest hedge maze. Planted with more than 1000 cypress trees, it’s over three metres tall and two metres thick, and guaranteed to be one of the most unique activities of your getaway!
Pamper yourself: The award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs are the ultimate way to unwind any time of year. They’re Victoria’s first geothermal mineral springs and day spa, and it’s hard to beat the hilltop pool with 360-degree views of the region.
Head to the beach: A wine region right on the beach is pretty much my idea of Aussie holiday perfection. Be sure to check out the iconic rainbow-coloured bathing boxes.
Fruit picking: Nothing beats fresh produce straight from the source, and what could be better than picking it yourself at spots like Ripe ‘n’ Ready Cherry Farm, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, or Drum Drum Blueberry Farm? Be sure to check their websites and/or Facebook pages for updates before you visit – unlike the big chains, supply is, of course, seasonal 😉PLAN YOUR MORNINGTON GETAWAY