Written for the Committee for Mornington Peninsula
By Greg Allen Pretty
With us all the time, through all seasons and despite Covid restrictions, are Mornington Peninsula’s skilled winemakers.
Cellar door visits are always popular, and even when Covid restrictions limit opportunities to browse and taste, the product of the region’s winemakers is still available. If we can’t go to them, they’ll come to us.
Let’s face it – a lovely Pinocchio from Crittenden Wines or a Red Fox Pinot Noir from Foxeys Hangout are just the thing to help ease the Covid blues.
Roger Lancia, the General Manager of Point Leo Estate, agrees. “During these times, I think that it’s important to afford yourself some little luxuries and things that you really enjoy,” Roger said.
“Normally we would keep our cellar doors open, as we did in Lockdowns 1 and 2. However travel restrictions make the distance too great for many of our guests to reach us in Merricks.
“So they have been enjoying our online ordering system and we also have a wine clearance centre in Richmond.”
Roger has curated a number of wine packs which are always popular, but particularly so during the latest lockdown.
They come gift packed and some customers have been ordering them to cheer up friends and family members.
Over at Foxeys Hangout at Red Hill, winemaker and chef Tony Lee says a lot of people are reminiscing about sitting on his deck, looking over his lovely vineyard with a glass of wine and some plates of snack food.
And while Covid restrictions may currently prevent that, Tony says people are keen to recreate the experience in their homes. “They remember their experience with us,” Tony said.
“Your sense of taste and sense of smell is an extraordinary memory trigger.
“For comfort you go back to what you enjoyed before, and so many people have been turning to our online ordering to relive those happy times.
“People say that they just want something they know they will enjoy. And in lockdown we can help them with that,” Tony said.
Winemaker and general manager of Crittenden Estate at Dromana, Rollo Crittenden, has his cellar door open for purchases but the wine tastings will have to wait a little longer. But it is not all bad news.
“We have a fantastic wine club with many happy members. And they love that we can keep them happy during the restrictions by calling them and offering deliveries. Our team is delivering around the Peninsula, and we’re going further afield with Australia Post,” Rollo said.
“Also, our wines are still being sold through a number of independent retail stores.” With limited options to dine out, many people are getting creative with fresh produce in their kitchens.
“Some people are looking for a wine that’s a little more special, like a premium pinot, to go with that special meal they’re preparing at home,” Rollo said.
“People are still looking to have a nice dining experience at home and to complement it with a special bottle of wine.”
This is where the Red Hill Cellar and Pantry excels. Dee Caligiuri has the largest selection of local products from the Mornington Peninsula – things like fresh produce, cheese, smallgoods, wine, beer, cider and spirits, along with basic needs like milk and bread.
“We have 800 different products, coming from around 100 different Peninsula producers,” Dee said.
“Some people are supporting local restaurants by way of takeaways or home delivery, but many others are using extended time at home to cook for themselves.
“People enjoy a meal more when they take the time to find a recipe they like and make the effort to create the meal themselves. They create their own fancy little dinner!”
The Mornington Peninsula is blessed with an abundance of food and wine producers. The CEO of Mornington Peninsula Wine, Olivia Barrie, says that’s because of their proximity to the sea.
“We’ve got the most amazing environment to help us deliver something that’s really special and unique,” Olivia said.
Mornington Peninsula Wine is an association that represents the local growers, vignerons and winemakers to government and other stakeholders.
And Covid restrictions aside, the industry is thriving.
“People know and love what’s down here on the Peninsula and they know how important it is to ‘shop local’, so that we can survive this and be here to satisfy their tastes for years to come.”
The Peninsula’s wineries will be on show soon at the annual Winter Wine Weekend. Rescheduled to 24 July at the Red Hill showgrounds, the large annual event with a 20 year history has been divided into smaller Covid-safe groups for 2021.
“It will be like a progressive tasting through the region with three different experiences in different sheds, 15 wines in each shed,” Olivia said.
“It’s a beautiful showcase of all the different wineries in the region in one spot, along with six restaurants.”
Producing and serving wine is not just a business for Mornington Peninsula winemakers, it’s a passion. And you can taste the love in every glass and in every bottle.
All of the organisations mentioned are members of the Committee for Mornington Peninsula, which is working to shape a better future for the region.
The CfMP was formed to ensure that all levels of government, policy formulators and decision makers have a clear understanding of the specific and often special needs of the Mornington Peninsula.
To find out more about CfMP and how to get involved, please visit www.committeeformp.com.au