One of my fondest memories from last year was our epic foodie crew winery tour last year in the Yarra Valley with Wine Compass (see post here) so I was so thrilled when the lovely Adam offered to take us out again, this time to show off the winery scene on the stunning Mornington Peninsula.
There is so much to love about Wine Compass. The beauty of this tour company is that it is able to tailor a winery tour to any group, any occasion and any taste. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or know very little about wine, whether you are a foodie, or whether you are just up for some fun with your friends, Adam and his team are able to cater for you and put together an itinerary that suits your needs.
Being foodies and Instagrammers, our needs were pretty obvious. We wanted to taste some nice wines, but we also wanted to eat some awesome food and get some great photo opportunities, and Adam’s itinerary for the day ticked these boxes.
Departing Federation Square just before 9am, it was an easy cruise into the peninsula on a sunny Spring day. Our first destination was the gorgeous, rustic style vineyard Quealy Winemakers. The cellar door was nothing fancy but it had a quirky, welcoming feel to it and we tasted some gorgeous and interesting wines there. Opened by Kathleen Quealy, one of the most well known winemakers on the peninsula and the pioneer of the Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio trend in the area, her wines are easy to drink, playful and fun, including the hilarious names and stories behind them such as the ‘Pobblebonk’ (now in my wine rack) named after the sound the frogs make on their dam during mating season. Keep an eye out for the resident dog who will greet you!
We were all very keen to check out Jackalope, and have lunch at the Rare Hare restaurant after hearing such great reviews. We were not disappointed. Jackalope itself is such a stunning venue, it needs to be seen to be believed. Perhaps one of the most lavish and decadent wineries/hotels in the region, no expense has been spared to make it a sought after location. Be sure to check out the beautiful cocktail bar which feels more like an art gallery than a drinking space.
The sharing lunch menu at Rare Hare was very enjoyable. Set in a large, well lit, rustic space overlooking vines after vines after vines, rolling hills and a dam in the distance, this is a true winery lunch experience. Heralding local and seasonal produce, the food felt clean, healthy and wholesome whilst still showing finesse and technique. We were particularly impressed by how amazing the vegetarian dishes were, and the salmon and lamb dishes were beautiful too. Complimented by very affordable and easy to drink house wines, this was an affordable experience and well worth the visit. It was very easy to see why there is a buzz about this relatively new venture in the area.
Our final stop was probably the most fun of the journey, the very recently opened Old Apple Shed. Adam had told us to expect to taste some of the best ciders we have ever tried at this venue, and he was right (I came home with two slabs!) Run by the bubbly Kate Magee, a warm, welcoming and hilarious winemaker, this spot is down to earth and homely. Set in literally an Old Apple Shed, surrounded by wine barrels and beautiful vines, this is the perfect place to while away a few hours. Kate serves no fuss platters, but the focus here is definitely on the ciders with a range featuring Apple, Pear, Passionfruit, Strawberry and Ginger offerings, and some of the crispest, cleanest ciders I have tried. I can’t wait to enjoy some of these on a Summer afternoon. Another notrworthy reason to visit the Old Apple Shed is the generous tastings and pours- you could easily get quite giggly spending more than half an hour there chatting to Kate!
Ending the winery tour at this location pays homage to Wine Compass’s promise to make it an easy, cruisy day with lots of laughs. The emphasis isn’t on fancy, the emphasis is on fun and experiencing the ‘true’ winery experience of the Peninsula; which from our experience was seeing a range of quirky, passionate and fun individuals who devote their lives to living out their dreams making wine and sharing it with customers. And of course, it helps if your crew is as fun as mine was!
I can’t recommend this experience enough for anybody looking for a fun day out with friends, a birthday celebration, hens day, work function. Check out Wine Compass for more details or to make an inquiry!
Have a delicious day,