A couple of weekends ago I went to Melbourne for a wedding dress fitting for our daughter Kate who’s getting married early next year. It was fun. She will be a gorgeous bride and it’s exciting to be part of this special time. As well as chatting about wedding preparations, we took a trip down the Mornington Peninsula into the wine country. While the Yarra Valley is considered the “food bowl” of Victoria with boutique accommodation, gourmet local produce and great wineries the Mornington Peninsula is also a great day trip with equally as many good wineries and restaurants.
If you are anything like me, my geography isn’t too sharp so here’s a map of Melbourne and the peninsula.
Despite Melbourne being on the coast it has a very different feel to Sydney. It feels very inland, maybe because of the proximity with the Yarra River, yet it’s actually surrounded by a wonderful coastline and beaches.
Living in Melbourne our daughter doesn’t own a car, but with the ‘Car Next Door,’ service it was easy to hire a car for the day to get us to the vineyards. This sharing service is driven by an app and connects real people who need a car, with people who have a car whether it’s for an hour, a day or whatever. Using the app, you search one-line, find the sort of car you need, in a location that is handy to you. Sure enough there was a small sedan in their neighbourhood, just around the cornor. The keys are in a lock up device on the car… it is just so easy.
The Mornington Peninsula is south-east of Melbourne near Red Hill and is surrounded by port Phillip Bay. Over the years much of the peninsula has been cleared for agriculture and settlements and it’s now a local tourist region with many beaches and wineries.
Our choice for lunch was Montalto Vineyard, chosen for its great food, casual atmophere and sculpture walk.
They have two restaurants, Montalto Restaurant and the more casual Piazza Café we opted for. While we couldn’t book we were warmly welcomed and encouraged to get a wine and enjoy the extensive garden and sculpture walk.
The view across the small valley and up the other side from the restaurant is breathtaking. It’s a rambling rural outlook over vines, olive groves, sculpture, lakes and wetlands with a hint of the ocean as the backdrop. The wetland habitat and a lake make a sanctuary for local waterbirds.
We walked the contemporary sculpture trail, about one kilometre that winds through the grounds. There are about 30 pieces in the permanent collection as well as the finalists of the annual Montalto Sculpture Prize Exhibition.
The end of our walk coincided perfectly with our table being ready. We ordered a number of sharing plates including the slow roasted lamb shoulder with burnt eggplant miso and the roasted carrots, cavolo nero with preserved lemon yoguart. The food and wine couldn’t have been better so all in all, a memorable day. However, I feel we bearly scratched the surface of the peninsula. With Portsea and Sorrento and the Mornington Peninsula National Park to discover I’d like to go back.
Other related Melbourne posts.