We chose CafeBus for our tour of the Mornington Peninsula. It’s a really cool and friendly bus with facing seats and an onboard espresso maker. Vanessa, our guide, was a fun-loving gal that was described as “cheeky” by one of our Aussie mates.
The landscape is very different than the Yarra Valley. It is a peninsula projecting out into Port Philip Sound, and has some great ocean views, a cooler climate, and smaller vineyards and cellar doors. Though most were not in picturesque buildings, all had lovely grounds.
As with the Yarra Valley tour, we enjoyed much more than just wine: strawberries, cheese, and chocolates in addition to Devonshire tea in a lovely tea garden.
Our first stop was at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm where we tasted not only strawberries, but also strawberry-based liqueurs. Then it was on to Main Ridge Dairy where we tasted eight different varieties of goat cheese, including some we’d never had, and all delicious.
From there we went to the T-Gallant Winery where they specialize in both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris wines–both from the same grape, but the former taken off the vines early in the Italian method and the latter harvested later in the French method.
At Mornington Peninsula Chocolates in Flinders, we were treated to a tasting of outrageously good (and equally outrageously expensive) truffles, the richness of which we had never experienced. Though tempted, we resisted the urge to buy some. After the tasting, we had a gourmet lunch (dessert before dinner again!) in their cafe, then went on to our final stop for the day, at Merrick’s General Wine Store.
Walking around afterwards, we spotted a Red Gum tree, which is a flowering eucalyptus. I was surprised to learn that there are over 700 varieties of eucalypts in Australia, and many of them flower. A few of those varieties produce the gum leaves that koalas eat.
My conclusion about wine tasting in the Melbourne area is that the Yarra Valley has more picturesque wineries and, to my taste, produces better wine. Having said that, I honestly did not find any wines that I enjoyed more than the ones at home in the Sonoma Valley.