Merricks Creek - Compelling Family Owned Winery on Mornington Peninsula
Merricks Creek Winery is a compelling family owned winery on the Mornington Peninsula with a fascinating story. With a recently launched new stylish Cellar Door, Merricks Creek is a must visit for Melbourne wine lovers and beyond (open daily in January then on weekends thereafter). Check out our Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries. Image credit: Jamie Durrant
Visitors can enjoy stunning vineyard setting with the vines "up close and personal" as you enjoy rustic shared dishes on the raised deck. Inside the Cellar Door facility you can taste the high quality Pinot Noir (range of 5) and Chardonnay offerings.
Merricks Creek is a first class winery but it's the behind the scenes story which makes it even more compelling.
Peter Parker (above) is a charming and elegant host as owner and winemaker at the new Cellar Door (formerly the family lounge room). Visitors are raving about the Cellar Door experience at Merricks Creek Winery; the Mediterranean style food, the amazing views and ambience, the chic but homely design featuring clever use of textures and space, and the standout wine tasting.
Image credit above photo: Jamie Durrant.
Peter Parker is the driving force, having always been "obsessed with Pinot Noir" by his own admission. As a Clinical Psychologist Peter has an amazing life; part of the week is spent consulting in South Yarra, and the rest of the week is devoted to the winery. Says Peter, "My bedside table used to be piles of books by Freud and psychoanalysis, but now the psychiatry books are replaced by books on viticulture and winemaking." (The World Loves Melbourne is sure Freud would have loved the Pinot Noir at Merricks Creek.)
When you visit you may engage the charming Georgia-May as she helps manage the kitchen and does marketing, and Sam working at Cellar Door (both pictured above).
Peter Parker is living the dream, enjoying both city and country life. He speaks of days spent in clinical psychiatry in South Yarra followed by a drive to Mornington Peninsula in time for a 9pm spray of the vineyard on the tractor (pulling the sprayer behind him) as the light was fading. Passion for Pinot!
Having established Merricks Creek winery with his wife Georgina some 18 years ago, the whole family is now engaged; it's a family affair with all passionate about food and wine. Image credit above photo: Jamie Durrant.
Pinot Noir is a standout but don't underestimate the crisp Chardonnay.
Merricks Creek started out with humble beginnings (Peter and wife Georgina with young Sam pictured above); by growing and supplying grapes to wine companies. However things took a fortunate turn in events when a contract fell through in 2001 and they decided (virtually forced into it) to make their own wine. The rest is history as they have made wines at every vintage.
Georgia-May pictured above in the early days getting around the vineyards on her bike.
Peter Parker is super serious about Pinot. He's obsessed with clones, and has imported clones from some of the world's best vineyards. Peter Parker's benchmark is Domaine de la Romanée-Conti vineyard in France as the best Pinot vineyard in the world. These wines can fetch up to $7,000 a bottle. Peter followed the story as clones from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti were rumoured to be taken by Josh Jenson back to California (neither confirmed or denied).
Josh Jensen has developed a famous winery Calera with sensational vines. A turning point was that Peter Parker was able to get some of the clones from this Calara vineyard in California and put them in quarantine for 2 years in Australia (each clone $1,000 a year in quarantine); eventually being able to propagate these amazing clones on Mornington Peninsula. With stunning results!
Merricks Creek Pinot Noir is exceptional. The first vintage of Pinot Noir attracted a score of 96 from James Halliday in 2001 - the equal top score in Australia at the time. Merricks Creek has scored consistently between 94 and 96 over the years and is a James Halliday 5 star rating winery.
Peter Parker has been importing clones since; with a crispy Chardonnay on the back of clones propagated from New Zealand.
A great influence has been Pinot Noir legend Gary Farr. Gary who learned how to make Burgundy in France consulted and assisted Peter Parker and Merricks Creek in their formation. James Halliday once said something like "If the spirit of Burgundy ever comes to breathe in Australia it will be through the vines of Gary Farr." Gary Farr was meticulous in his work and consultancy in the vineyard, including clone selection and vine management. Gary went on to make wine for Merricks Creek.
The World Loves Melbourne walks through to the kitchen where Georgina Parker is a perfectionist about all she does; cooking simple shared rustic dishes that match the wine. The World Loves Melbourne loves the food here and it's the sort of cuisine we're after; unpretentious delicious food that is affordable ($11 to $15).
Talented Sam Parker (pictured above, and below with Peter Parker) is involved in many aspects of the business.
Sam Parker is enthusiastic and engaging on Cellar Door. He can tell you all about each of the wines; after all, now at age 18, he's been assisting in the winemaking since about 11 years of age. He climbs into the tanks, does the pressing, helps with making wine, bottling and labelling. Sam Parker's passion for the business is infectious and his knowledge of wine and winemaking is impressive.
Georgia-May is an engaging marketing manager and her creativity, marketing and administration skills are making a huge impact on the scene. The World Loves Melbourne always thinks there's a compelling dimension about a family run business. A family benchmark here is that the vines were planted when Sam Parker was born.
Image credit above photo: Jamie Durrant.
Merricks Creek winery has the edge over many others on the Mornington Peninsula when it comes to food. These are stylish rustic shared dishes that won't break the bank. The Mediterranean style food is impressive; with highlights including the Rare eye fillet with caper vinaigrette and ciabatta; or the Roasted tomatoes, goat curd and grilled ciabatta; the Prosciutto, Shaw River buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes with ciabatta; or desserts such as the Kahlua Espresso Deconstructed tiramisu, as well as the White chocolate mousse mini pots.
Are you visiting the Mornington Peninsula soon? Make sure you visit Merricks Creek Winery (open daily in January 2016 and weekends thereafter).