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Food, Travel, Inside Story

Wine Compass Tours Excite on the Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula beckons with its top notch wineries and foodie experiences. We joined Adam Nicholls from Wine Compass on a compelling and fun wine tour called "Meet The Makers" to some of Mornington Peninsula's best wineries. Wine Compass is a savvy tour operator with Adam leaving his digital marketing job to follow his passion for wine and food. Starting off small, his tours became hugely popular with groups, hens events, tourists and Melbournites looking to experience the best of the Mornington Peninsula. The World  Loves Melbourne believes tours require an engaging knowledgeable affable host, as well as compelling destinations. Adam nails it on both accounts. A great guy with a wine passion, Adam has already run 250 wine tours...  Check out our Best Wineries in Mornington Peninsula.

Our first stop was Quealy Winemakers with the much awarded Kathleen Quealy the Winemaker and her team on hand. Quealy is a cool, alternative winery that is unlike many wineries you'll ever visit. They are prone to experiment and bring out the best the region can offer. The vibe is slightly grungy but the winemaking techniques are cutting edge. Kathleen makes unique varietals that match brilliantly with food. Every wine we tasted was elegant. At Quealy Winemakers it's a family affair, including a few pets along the way for rustic charm. If you're used to the hustle and bustle of city life, a tour with Adam Nicholls including Quealy Winemakers is a perfect tonic to escape the city blues.

Kathleen Quealy is famous for championing Pinot Gris/Grigio in Australia and is currently championing the Friulano variety.

By the way Adam Nicholls also has 2 new wine tours he has developed -

After the success of the recent Meet the Makers tours, he has developed 2 products which capture the spirit of these tours but are conducted for private groups with a tailored itinerary.

Specifically targeted at real foodies and wine lovers:

Targeted at corporates looking for different and special experience: 

Kathleen Quealy from Quealy Winemakers believes in sustainable viticulture and less irrigation.

Wine tanks included these gems from yesteryear as well as the new tanks at the back...

Adam Nicholls from Wine Compass balances the tour with the next stop at Ocean Eight being more upmarket in its presentation... You get a variety of wines and wineries on this tour, a good thing!

Ocean Eight delighted with Mike Aylward the Winemaker taking us downstairs for a barrel tasting, ie a tasting straight from the barrels. The World Loves Melbourne loves a good barrel tasting and we were delighted to try a young Nebiollo, as well as Pinots and Chardonnays.

Mike Aylward gave us the run down on Ocean Eight, who sell most of their wines to top restaurants around the country (and mainly in Melbourne).

The grounds of Ocean Eight are spectacular with smallish Cellar Door and sweeping views of gardens and ranges.

Wine is first produced in these stainless steel tanks then matured in the barrels below the winery.

Our lunch stop on the Wine Compass tour was at Red Hill Epicurean. You can drive past this restaurant and have no idea of the quality and expansiveness of this culinary destination. When you walk in to this large shed like structure you are amazed at the size and quality of the space.

Wine Compass tours visit several destinations in terms of wineries and lunch, but often Red Hill Epicurean features. This is excellent gourmet but casual style dining, featuring the best of the region's produce and fine wines in an Italian style experience.

The World Loves Melbourne dined with Adam from Wine Compass and notable Winemaker Judy Gifford from Darling Park Wines (one of the region's best winemakers). Judy was trained and educated in Burgundy and has been a huge part of the Mornington Peninsula wine scene over a plethora of vintages bringing her technical skill and verve. The new Darling Park Cellar Door opens its doors in Red Hill in July/August, check their website for further announcements.

Red Hill Epicurean excelled with premium dishes such as the Epicurean Antipasto Misto with cured meats, olives and cheese... Not to mention tasty Arancini and cauliflower.

And indeed Red Hill Epicurean signature pizza foccacia's...

The highlight of the luncheon was this Grilled 400g Gippsland Porterhouse with garlic and caper butter, red wine sauce, truffle mash, fine leaves. Imbibed with stunning local wines this was a triumph. Truffle mash? Yes please!

Then it was around to Darling Park with Judy Gifford to sample her best wines ready for tasting. There's something about having access to winemakers and Wine Compass tours with Adam delivers. It's great when Judy asks you what you think of each of her 3 single origin vineyard Pinot Noirs!


Earlier in the day we had tastings from the barrel, now it was tastings on the barrel... The Pinot Noirs were a treat, as was the Pinot Gris and Shiraz, while the Ice Viognier was delightful.

Judy Gifford also participates as the tour guide in some tours, partnering with Adam from Wine Compass...

Wine Compass runs exceptional tours that give you a premium wine experience on the Mornington Peninsula. Highly recommended.

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