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at Scotchmans Hill
Photograph: Supplied

How to drink your way around the the Bellarine Peninsula

The western side of the bay is quietly transforming into a wine-lovers' paradise

By Nicola Dowse

Melbourne, we know you have a love affair with the Mornington Peninsula, and it's warranted. But this story isn't about the wineries out east. We think it's about time the city tasted the great drops being created on the Bellarine. The Bellarine Peninsula has been producing wine since the 1980s, and frankly we think it's about time the rest of the world knew about it. Whether you're new to wine, pushed for time or really know your pinots from your cab savs, there's something on the Peninsula' for you.

Skip the bottleneck of cars leaving Melbourne and travel to the Bellarine Peninsula via Port Phillip Ferries. The private ferry service travels between Docklands and Portarlington seven days a week, with return fares starting at $29 for adults. 

Need more holiday inspo? Keep trekking west and try out the Great Ocean Walk. Or head inland and check out Victoria's High Country.

For die-hard wine lovers: Scotchmans Hill

Bars Wineries Drysdale

It’s hard to imagine the Bellarine wine industry without Scotchmans Hill, as the vineyard is one of the biggest and oldest on the peninsula (it was established in 1982). Its new cellar door is a relatively recent addition to the vineyard, and one worth waiting for. Come prepared with questions, because the team here aren’t wet-behind-the-ears scallywags – they really know their wine. And if you let them know what you like they might even bring out something special for you to try. 

Queenscliff Brewhouse
Photograph: Supplied

For the time poor: Queenscliff Brewhouse

Bars Pubs Queenscliff

Queenscliff brewhouse is a bit of a Swiss army knife of a venue. Yes, it’s a brewery, but it's also a pub, bistro, tasting room, whisky bar and soon to be hotel. Even if you don’t have time to check out the best producers on the Bellarine, you can still support them by checking out Queenscliff Brewhouse’s tasting room. It features walls and walls of local products: jams, olive oils, spice mixes, honey, chutney, sauces and plenty of wine. Grab a glass to enjoy in the all-weather courtyard beer garden or by the fireplace on cold days. 

A wine glass with some red wine in it
Photograph: Pexels

For a boutique experience: Curlewis Winery

Bars Wineries

If you’re expecting a large-scale operation where tour companies drop off buses of tourists, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised. The Curlewis Winery team is small, and their cellar door is only open on weekends. From the outside the cellar door looks like a barn; inside it looks like a hunter’s cabin got the Queer Eye treatment. They’re not scared of doing things a little differently at Curlewis: their wine tastings are served in test tubes, which makes it simple to compare and contrast each wine. 

For those with kids: Basils Farm

Bars Wineries

On a sunny day, regardless of season, families can be found spilling out of the café and onto the sprawling, green hillside while enjoying lunch, coffee or just a glass of wine at Basils. With a sandpit and outdoor games kids are warmly welcomed here, as are well behaved dogs. Here for a tipple? The cellar door is open seven days a week, with some wines so popular staff often have to put a limit on the number of bottles per guest. 

at Bellarine Distillery
Photograph: Chris McConville photography

If you prefer spirits: the Whiskery

Bars Breweries Drysdale

Having a drink at the Whiskery is an unpretentious affair: it feels a little like having a drink in a lush, fairytale beer garden. Even those who turn their noses up at G&Ts will be converted by the Whiskery’s version, which is smooth, fragrant and just a little bit citrusy. It’s best enjoyed sitting by the venue’s fireplace, or under the trees on a sunny day where you can watch staff pottering around for cocktail ingredients. 

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