Published in Forte Magazine, slightly edited for online version.
This week, I thought I’d write about something a little closer to home. And when we are blessed to be living in such a cultural, beautiful and produce filled place why not!
For my birthday a few weeks ago I decided to do a winery tour down the Bellarine Peninsula. I got the idea off a friend from Adelaide, where wineries outnumber houses* and winery tours are a regular event! Geelong is perfectly positioned for access to multiple wineries, with up to 4 or so different routes you can choose. These are all highlighted every year in November when we have Toast to the Coast – Buses drive the routes up and down all day and you buy a pass to get on and off! There are mostly free wine tastings at all of them, and you can buy take away bottles of any that take your fancy. There is food and entertainment, and of course the weather is lovely then too.
The route I chose for my birthday has loads of amazing wineries, but I chose a select few to occupy a couple of hours. To begin with we had lunch at Jack Rabbit winery, down in Portarlington and right on the bay. I chose Jack Rabbit because I think it undoubtedly has the most stunning views, set on a sprawling hill looking back over the Geelong region. It hosts many weddings and other celebrations every year because of its prime location. The menu is ever changing and we enjoyed charcuterie and anti pasto plates, filled with soft goats cheese, salty cured meats and delicious crunchy crisp breads. The sparkling white is really delicious, and we tried the house Merlot with lunch which was a mixture of home made beef pies, fish and chips and juicy salads.
View from Jack Rabbit, from their website.
Right next door to Jack Rabbit, is Terindah which was a favourite of mine last Toast to the Coast. The wine tasting area is almost like a big warehouse, and down from that on the hill is the main restaurant. It has a huge amount of area in front to sit in the sun and enjoy a Pinot, which is why I probably didn’t enjoy it as much having my birthday in Winter. The wine tasting area was very bland – Empty, no music and no atmosphere what so ever. They can boast an award winning Shiraz, but sipping our wine in silence was fairly dis interesting, so we finished the wine list (yes, the Shiraz was lovely for the record), and went a few hundred metres down the highway to Bellarine Estate.
Photo courtesy of winegeelong.com
Bellarine Estate was a complete contrast from Terindah. Warm, buzzing, and music filled it had a roaring fire and loads of comfy chairs and areas to sit. The bar was full and we tried the full selection of wines – We didn’t get to try the beers but they also do a really cool 5 mini pot beer floater so you can try the different ales and others they brew. Bellarine also do their own ginger beer which looked delicious (as most ginger beers do!). They also do amazing fire oven pizzas here and although we didn’t try any this as we were still so full from lunch, we’ve had them in the past and they are delicious. At Toast they roll our hay bails into their huge paddock area and its filled with little stalls to buy different foods and drinks. They also do the annual Harvest ‘n’ Graze here, last year Darryl Braithwaite sang and my calf muscles were so sore from dancing I couldn’t walk to work the next day!
Our final stop was at Leura Park on the highway home to Geelong – Usually amazing again in Summer with live music and a busy atmosphere, they were shutting when we got there are 4pm on Saturday, and they rushed us through the wine tasting – I’d been saving us all for cheese platters here so it was a pretty disappointing finish!
All in all though it was an awesome day and I highly recommend getting a crew together!
*statistic not proven :)