The Mornington Peninsula’s Epicurean Triumph, the Polperro Winery, Cellar Door Restaurant, and Vineyard Villas

Palperro Winery

There is nothing like a weekend getaway in the country. Taking a few hours’ drive away from the big city for an indulgent change of scenery and enjoying some delightful simple pleasure. An hour’s drive from Melbourne Australia is the Mornington Peninsula, a bucolic countryside surrounded by idyllic blue water and white sand beaches. This is one of Australia’s most coveted wine regions known for producing some of the country's top chardonnays and pinot noirs. An ideal way to savor the peninsula is in one of its finest oenophile haunts, the Polperro Winery.

Palperro Winery

Today’s top wine producers are now offering more than just their exquisite wines at a swanky cellar door. Sure, you will love the sipping and swirling while chatting it up with the cellar door staff about each savory elixir that fills your glass. But beyond that, winemakers have created new ways to satiate the whims of the connoisseur which now include world-class gourmet cuisine and upmarket accommodations to spend the night. Polperro Winery provides all of that and so much more at their lovely family-owned winery, bistro, and suites.

Palperro Winery

The winding country road takes you through heavily wooded landscapes past the village of Red Hills to the Polperro Winery. Down the long gravel road, the first thing you will notice is a row of magnificent Angophora trees with massive trunks lead to branches so high above they seem to touch the sky. The trees have stood here for over 100 years, long before grapes and winemaking were introduced to the region. Underneath are Adirondack chairs and guest lazing about immersed in the simple pleasures of the moment. Beyond is the cellar door and restaurant that overlooks the 25-acre property and picturesque view of rows and rows of grapevines that only end at a pond, woodlands, and the mountain ridge backdrop.

Elsewhere you’ll see couples with a wicker basket in hand, filled with a gourmet lunch prepared by the chef. As they are strolling by the vineyards, they are in route to the pond to lay out on a blanket and enjoy their picnic lunch in the grass under the trees by the pond.

Sam Coverdale, Winemaker / Owner, Polperro Winery

Sure, the Polperro winery offers a top-notch cellar door and tony accommodations. But the wines are the true star of the show and bring the lion’s share of cachet to the Polperro brand. Sam Coverdale is the winemaker and the owner of the winery and estate. He brings to the tables some serious bona fides having worked as a winemaker at some of the top wineries. He takes this wealth of international winemaking best practices and applies it to his Polperro wines which are all single vineyard wines grown on his estate.

And his time of winemaking is right for today. The vineyards do not use herbicides or insecticides. The wine fields use biological, organic, and biodynamic techniques to preserve the sustainability of the vineyard.  Coverdale shares: “I believe great wine is made on the vine. Our approach to winemaking respects and capitalizes on Australia’s best cool-climate wine regions, resulting in wines with character and balance that are a pleasure to drink.”

He is the consummate winemaker of the future with a focus on authentic wines with their distinctive properties and character. Any time of day you can see Sam, along with his staff tending the vines, if not in the winery or chatting with his cellar door guests.

Coverdale produces the Polperro single-vineyard wines from his wine fields surrounding the cellar door. As one of Australia’s top winemakers, he produces his second label Even Keel from grapes produced throughout Australia by other growers.

Polperro premium, single-vineyard wines are bold, full-body, with rich flavors that are above all else elegant and drinkable which is the hallmark of the winemaker.  Polperro does not try to do too much allowing the winemaker to stay in his lane to focus on making the wines that the peninsula does best. Polperro features handpicked, organically grown Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay which are the varietals that benefit from the cool maritime microclimate with substantial rain during the growing season on the peninsula. The mark does include a lovely Pinot Gris and Fume Blanc as well.

Coverdale’s winemaking prowess comes to the fore with his bold and powerful 2018 Talland Hill Pinot Noir that grew in a single vineyard, just yards away from their cellar door. Expect audacious fruit and a strong tannin structure with hints of pepper, spice, and other aromatics. 

Mill Hill vineyard chardonnay is laudable as well. Growing on the highest site in the peninsula at 270m above sea level, the vineyards have a much longer ripening period and the resultant natural acidity making this chardonnay light and crisp. Expect a well-balanced and drinkable Chardy offering a palate of stone fruit and the acidity that provides a long grapefruit finish and a hint of flowers.

The ying to the yang of good wine is obviously good food. The Cellar Door offers visitors an ideal setting to enjoy the fruits of labor from a boutique winemaker as well as the perfect complement to his wines in their gourmet bistro restaurant. Indoors is industrial chic and modern without being ostentatious. There is a certain honesty in the design that makes it pleasant without distracting with repurposed dark oak wood flooring, an open fireplace, and retro style chairs covered in lambswool. However, in the warmer months, the outdoor terrace is the location of choice for most visitors. Tables are strewn across the spacious veranda where couples and groups of friends dine while taking in the fresh air and dappled sunlight while drinking in the views over the vineyard.

Akin to the décor the food is elegant as well haute nuevo Australian cuisine but again, never feels overcomplicated. The dishes are made for sharing and although the setting is casual, this is serious food. The menu offers Australian cuisine with Asian influences. The seminal aspect of the menu is that the ingredients, for the most part, and all seasonal and locally sourced. From fresh seafood from the peninsula to meat from a nearby producer. The vegetables could not be any fresher with many having been harvest that morning from the estate's vast gardens set in between the vineyards only a few meters away.

The tasting menu comes along with the most popular dishes as well as a few surprises along the way. The presentation is deliciously unusual as well and at times playful with dishes served on dried grass or perhaps in the dessert presented in the shape of a popsicle. Menu standouts include the bluefin tuna with wasabi and sesame seed, glazed lamb ribs, or the spatchcock with baba ghanoush. 

All the dishes have been created to pair nicely with the range of wines from both the Polperro and Even Keel lines. The switched-on staff is extremely knowledgeable about both the wines and each dish and is astute when advising on the wine pairing options.

The Vineyard Villas are ideally based to fully enjoy the oenophile experience at Polperro as well as to explore the peninsula. There are four well-appointed accommodations as well as a three-bedroom converted farmers residence which is ideal for a group of friends. The farmer's cottage is a throwback to another era with a stylish 50’s era décor. Tasteful, simple, and country chic interiors beckon nostalgia in the furnishings with retro design elements, wall art, and furnishings. The homestead is situated away from the cellar door and the other units and surrounded by woods and vineyards. Outdoor amenities include an outdoor kitchen, barbecue, and chefs table as well as a fire pit with Adirondack chairs under a canopy from the 200-year-old pine trees.  

The four units are a short walk away from the cellar door and create and make an ideal getaway for romantic weekenders. The units are spacious, well-appointed with modern décor, and offer a wet bar, wood-burning fireplace, and cozy sitting area. The room's most decadent feature is the oversized jacuzzi which is the focal point of the room. One unit offers a sauna room as well. Outside is a well-hidden sitting area with Adirondack chairs overlooking the vineyards.  

The units come with an ample breakfast set up for the first morning with yummy sourdough bread, muesli, jams, juices, and local artisanal treats. The cellar door is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday; guests staying during the week will take advantage of the many gourmet restaurant and eateries that dot the peninsula.

There is so much to do on the peninsula beyond the wine and foodie scene, guests need not worry about getting bored. Many will take a scenic bike ride through vineyards and the backcountry, stopping off for artisanal food bites and cellar doors wine tastings offered by Cycle Vine Tours. Others will explore the many beaches or even take the Arthurs Seat Eagle gondola ride to the top of the mountain for a bird’s eye view over the peninsula. There are also numerous boutiques and shops to visit for some retail therapy such as the shop in town owned by the Coverdales. Amelie and Frank’s is an upscale boutique offering an eclectic mix of products from haute designer fashion to handcrafted jewelry, perfumes, and accessories. Just next door in the crossroads town center is their bar and bistro, Many Little, where you’ll mainly see locals bending the elbow for casual lunch or dinner or a cold beer after work.

The Coverdales have thought of it all offering the quintessential Mornington Peninsula experiences from fine wines, accommodations, and gourmet Australian cuisine. They have even created a way for you to work off some of that good living in a holistic yoga studio, The Hot Hut. The yoga studio is in a lovely, wooded setting offering several types of classes for beginners to those deeper into their training including mellow flow, power flow, theta meditation, and yin yoga.

A getaway to the country is an ideal way to leave the pressures of city life behind. The ideal side trip from a holiday in Melbourne is to explore the epicurean bounty of the Mornington Peninsula. Polperro Winery offers the quintessential oeno-centric getaway worthly of today’s international gourmand.

Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)

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