The Mornington Peninsula is a special place where vines thrive in sheltered undulating valleys nurtured by a maritime cool climate creating elegant, personality-packed award-winning wines - predominantly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with Pinot Grigio and Shiraz a smaller presence. Vineyards planted in the 1970s started the current era and are celebrated through stories told by our founding vignerons.
What's the Mornington Peninsula's signature wine? It is supple & alluring, coaxing elegant and delicate varietal characters from the locally grown Pinot Noir. Appropriately, the region's wines show great finesse but don't be fooled by any apparent delicacy, as these wines are packed full of intensity, structure & texture.
Walk pristine beaches and spectacular cliff tops, catch a wave, paddle a sea kayak, tackle the fairway at Cape Schanck, or sip a seductive Pinot Noir and feel the difference when you visit the Mornington Peninsula.
Less than an hour's drive south-east of Melbourne, the region now hosts 200 small-scale vineyards and more than 50 cellar doors offering visitors a personal warm welcome and taste of the region's diverse and impressive collection of fine wines. Mornington Peninsula wineries are supported by exceptional, and an increasing variety, of restaurants, bistros and cafes.
2023 Vintage Report
Quality expectations for the 2023 vintage are positive however reports received from the growers of the Mornington Peninsula suggest the main varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are down significantly on an ‘average’ year, which is largely due to challenging weather events in the spring. The truth is it has been a difficult growing season with a likely knock on effect from the damage caused by the 2021/2022 storms, where vines suffered bruising of shoots and subsequent lateraling of canes which may have affected the following vintage yield.
Budburst varied up and down the hill and was generally earlier than usual, in early September. February was slightly drier than average and the rainfall for the year to date is two-thirds of the average. The mean temperature was about one and a half degrees above average. The daytime temperatures were slightly cooler, but night temperatures were quite a bit warmer. This is associated with the lower than normal solar exposure due to more cloud cover resulting in higher overnight temperatures.
The rainfall for the summer (December to February) was about three-quarters of the average. This is mainly due to a relatively dry January. The mean temperature was about one degree above normal with both the maximums and minimums being warmer. Solar radiation exposure was below average.
Growers have had to work hard on sunlight and airflow into canopies with careful shoot thinning on their already low crops. With low volume crush and high demand for grapes, prices for winery purchases are at an all-time high and with the compounding effect of now four small vintages in a row. With low volumes of wine to sell, winemakers are focussed on high value sales channels and established markets with tourism a strong element.
The 2023 vintage is showing bright and fresh varietal characters, despite the low yields. The cooler weather in the lead up to harvest has benefited white wines, delivering great minerality, drive, and finesse. Chardonnay, in particular, has a distinct flavour profile and acidity due to the cooler season. The red wines display a spectrum of flavours, from lifted aromatics and bright fruit to dark and concentrated characters.
In summary, while the 2023 vintage season presented many challenges for Mornington Peninsula growers, the resulting wines have been of high quality, demonstrating the care taken in the vineyard. The cool weather has benefited white wines, while red wines display a range of flavours, reflecting the gradual ripening process. Supply chain issues persist, with low yields and high demand for grapes leading to higher prices for winery purchases.
The Mornington Peninsula Wine Region Wine production on the Peninsula dates back to 1886, when Dromana wine won an honourable mention in the Intercontinental Exhibition. In 1891, fourteen Peninsula grape growers were mentioned in a Royal Commission into the Fruit and Vegetable Industry. In the 1920s, many of the Mornington Peninsula’s vineyards were abandoned or uprooted. In the 1950s, Seppelt and Seabrook operated a vineyard in Dromana, but this was destroyed by fire in 1967.
The renaissance of the region’s wine industry began in 1972 when a number of aspiring vignerons independently recognised the potential of the unique maritime climate of the Mornington Peninsula for producing high quality cool climate varieties, similar to those of the great wine producing regions of France.
The maritime influence provides relatively high summer humidity and rainfall. The coincidence of late ripening and a prolonged gentle autumn, result in fully ripe grapes with outstanding fruit flavours, high natural acidity and fine tannins.
The main grape varieties grown in the Region are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is the dominant variety, comprising half of total plantings – the Mornington Peninsula has over 9% of Australia’s total Pinot Noir plantings; the third largest Pinot Noir wine region. Some of the more innovative plantings include Pinot Gris and Shiraz.
Today, there are over 200 vineyards and plantings have steadied at around 1,100 hectares. Vineyards of 10 or more hectares are more dominant than was the case a decade ago. The Region also boasts over 50 wineries with cellar doors. The Mornington Peninsula Wine Region continues to develop and is rapidly becoming recognized as Australia’s leading producer of high quality maritime, cool climate wines and in particular Pinot Noir.
A Dilligent Record
Beginning from the early 1980s, Margaret Crittenden (of Crittenden Estate) collected any press clipping she would encounter that involved the Mornington Peninsula Wine Industry, cutting and pasting into a scrap book and 27 years later had filled five large books, which witness the progression on the industry from a media perspective. In recent years, husband Garry Crittenden resurrected these clippings and collated them into a publishable book, donating a copy to each of the Peninsula libraries along with the local Historical Society, which you can see here.