The view from the Main Ridge Estate cellar door verandah.
Drive down the dusty, winding William Road of Red Hill and you will be faced with a dilemma – turn left for Red Hill Cheese or right for one of Mornington Peninsula’s icons, Main Ridge Estate. It’s a tough one, particularly in our household as we are split down the middle when it comes to the cheese vs wine hierarchy! Fortunately one is rarely visited without the other so harmony is maintained.
The modern history of Mornington Peninsula cannot be discussed without mention of Main Ridge Estate and Nat White. Although the estate has recently changed hands with ownership passing to the Sexton family, Nat continues as a consultant to the winemaker James Sexton and a recent tasting in January 2017 confirmed little has changed in terms of house style – the careful attention to detail remains, as does the elegant and refined texture around which are woven classic Pinot Noir aromas and flavours. The Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir promise rewards in the years to come, if only you can keep your hands off them!
Established in the 1970s, Nat and Rose White replanted a lemon orchard with an experimental selection of vines. The early 1980s heralded the first commercial release, which included Pinot Noir, Meunier and Cabernet Sauvignon. This represented the first commercial winery release of Mornington Peninsula. Today Pinot Noir and Meunier remain in the portfolio together with Chardonnay and Merlot, the latter two having been grafted on to the older Cabernet vines after a decision to cease Cabernet production was taken.
Central to the history of the Mornington Peninsula, the Half Acre Pinot Noir is also recognised as ‘Excellent’ in the Langtons Classification of Australian Wine. Production is very small and with access to vines of 40+ years, the wines regularly sell out – it is the tardy visitor who arrives to the cellar door only to see the ‘sold out’ sign displayed at the entrance and speaking from personal experience, it is better to get in early and avoid that disappointing experience.
The cellar door is open daily with the exception of Public Holidays and tasting is in the original winery and cellar door building overlooking the vines. Grab a spot at the tasting bar, perch on tall chairs around one of the barrels scattered around or settle in on the verandah and enjoy a glass or two with a cheese platter or something more substantial depending on the time of year and the events calendar. There is a tasting fee, which is refundable for each person who purchases a bottle of wine.