“I don’t like red wines,” says our pourer, a young man of 23 years.
“How’s the mildew around here?”
“I’ve never heard of a problem.” Yeah, right.
The pinot is drinkable. The cabernet-merlot blend is not. According to Derek Barton, author of “Australia’s Best Wine Tours” which I purchased from one of the many book stores in St. Kilda, the peninsula is known for good pinots. We head outside to the vineyard. I’m struck by two things: the way end posts are supported (see picture), and the pruning. The end posts are not put in at angles; rather, they are straight, given extra support by another end post placed at the top. (See the picture.) The pruning method is to prune back to a single shoot, which stretches across the cordon wire. This is to control vegetative growth in this challenging microclimate (surrounded by water).
Whereas Morningstar Estate is a beautiful castle, our next stop across the road is a bohemian hole in wall with attitude, the Under Ground, where the yard is littered with barrels and the grounds could use a good cleaning. This is the place to have fun and to talk with the winemaker who describes in great detail the challenges of mildew and the pruning techniques. I notice they are using the breathable, oxygen permeable plastic drums, which are reputed to allow wine to age with a slow oxidation process similar to barrel aging. The winemaker concurs with the assessment and gives me the name of the Flextank supplier.
Place to stay: Novotel, St. Kilda. Located about 5 miles or so from the Melbourne City Center, along the bay. Jog along the beach in the morning. Enjoy breakfast and a “flat white” coffe at the racer’s café (where all the cyclists hang out).
Lunch or Dinner: Melbourne Wine Room The George. 125 Fitzroy St., St. Kilda. Tel: (03) 9525-5599. Reservations recommended. Everything delicious. Ask the waiter what’s good the day you go.
Morning Coffee: Racer’s Café, St. Kilda
Sails on the Bay. Restaurant. Despite being located right on the beach with a bay view, the food is good. 15 Elwood Foreshore, Elwood, Victoria. www.sailsonthebay.com