On the hunt for an uncharted wine destination, I found myself drawn to the Pinot Coast – Victoria, Australia’s largest wine producing
coastline acclaimed for its maritime pinot noir. Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, this region traces the state’s Southernmost edge of coastline for over 400 miles, making it a drawcard for wine aficionados, surfers and city day trippers in search of sun and sea. The region is beautifully sprinkled with 146 cellar doors across three diverse regions – Geelong, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland – all of which produce some of the best pinot noir in the world. Welcome, red wine lovers. Your home away from home awaits.
Each glass of Pinot Coast pinot contains notes of the region’s special and unrivaled terroir. Here, the south eastern coast spreads its influence over the vineyards, creating an optimal cool, maritime climate for pinot noir. The cool climate, brought about by refreshing ocean winds, ensures pinot perfection and adds layers of complexity. A nod must be given to the region’s diverse soil, too.
For well over a century, winemakers have harnessed the soil’s unique natural elements, growing in areas where the sun, sea and land beautifully intertwine in such a way to produce some of Australia’s finest pinot noir. These wines have an elegant structure that echoes Victoria’s coastline, with the fingerprint of a Pinot Coast pinot noir being it’s fresh aromatics, flavors of cherry, raspberry and
plum, fine tannins, and fresh acidity.
As you explore the region’s iconic stops and hidden gems, you will start to see – and taste! – how these wines reflect their unique surroundings. 261 wineries and 146 cellar doors offer tasting opportunities as diverse as the coast itself. In fact, whether you find yourself exploring Geelong, Mornington or Gippsland, it’s likely that you’ll be graced with an intimate, homegrown tasting experience,
as many of the cellar door hosts here are the winemakers or vineyard owners themselves.
In Geelong and the nearby Bellarine Peninsula, you’ll be pleased to find yourself drinking with a glass in hand at any of the area’s 150 vineyards, but Scotchmans Hill is a must stop on this mindful wine trek. Renowned as one of Australia’s best wineries and the wine producing pioneer of the Bellarine, Scotchmans Hill overlooks the beautiful Port Phillip Bay and offers a cellar door experience curated to your wine palate. Whether you desire a red Cellar Reserve or white current vintage, you’re in good hands and in great company at this leading winery. Also worth paying a visit to while in the area is Provenance Wines and a charming boutique vineyard and restaurant, Terindah Estate. Both offer creative dishes that lean in to the region’s native produce, locally sourced meats, and of course, memorable wines with distinct character.
Across the bay in Mornington Peninsula, only a quick hour’s drive from Melbourne, there are plenty of options among the vines that combine tasting and accommodation under one roof. A unanimous favorite in the area though is Jackalope, a 143-year-old homestead-meets-winery-meets-five-star hotel with a worthy list of accolades for its distinct modern architecture (think avant garde design features and sculptures, floor to ceiling windows in guestrooms and an infinity pool overlooking the glistening vines). You must be sure to dine at property’s gem, Rare Hare, a winery restaurant known for its minimal intervention wines and intimate dining area looking out to the vinelaced hills. Feeling extra indulgent? You can easily mix wine with wellness and spend a day – or five! – at Peninsula Hot Springs, an award-winning natural hot spring and day spa destination in the area. Over 50 bathing experiences, from thermal mineral pools to Turkish hamam, are here to love and cleanse your mind and spirit. A must here is their iconic hilltop pool, which gives you a birds-eye view over all of Mornington Peninsula.
The grand finale of your wine gallants should be in Gippsland – the Pinot Coast’s lesser-known and history rich region – where winemaking dates back to the nineteenth-century. Beautifully off the beaten path, stretching vastly from the coast to the mountains,
Gippsland is an undiscovered food and wine bowl producing premier reds, beef, dairy and seafood! In the east, there is Sardine Eatery and Bar known for its sustainable seafood sourced locally from Gippsland Lakes and elegant wine pairings. In the west, there
is Cannibal Creek, where you can enjoy wine tastings paired with some impressive French-inspired share platters. Down south, you’ll find my favorite area across the Pinot Coast, Phillip Island. Here you can watch little wild penguins waddle across Summerland Beach at the iconic Penguin Parade and stop by Purple Hen Wines to enjoy a glass of their signature Rooster Pinot Noir all in one day. Moving further south in Gippsland, you can explore the southernmost point of Australia, The South, located in Wlison’s Promontory National Park. The Prom, as the locals call it, is a dream for the outdoorsy type, offering miles of walking trails, coastal landscape. To check off your ‘Australian wildlife sighting bucket list,’ a refuge of kangaroos, wombats and echidnas await. Highly recommended for wine-forward accommodation and just a short scenic drive from The Prom is The Church House, a former church turned residence set
on a vineyard, orchard and olive grove.
Along with vines, there are many aquatic adventures to be had across the Pinot Coast’s miles and miles of captivating coastline. Surfing, scuba diving and whale watching, particularly around Port Phillips Head Marine National Park and Wilson Promontory, are just as popular and recommended as sipping pinot at Scotchmans Hill, Rare Hare, or Purple Hen. Across Geelong, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland, the spirit of the Southern Ocean graces every inch and entity it touches; it’s this irreproducible spirit shining through each
and every glass that distinguishes Pinot Coast pinot noir from the rest.