When Polperro winemaker Sam Coverdale couldn’t find a place to get a beer near his vineyard in Red Hill, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, he built his own pub. The Sri Lankan-influenced Many Little Bar & Dining opened at the tail end of 2018, and is now a meeting spot and watering hole for locals and out-of-towners alike. It’s an “If you build it, they will come” mentality that has seen the business become about much more than making wine.

That same year, Coverdale’s wife and business partner, Emma Phillips, launched something previously unseen in sleepy Red Hill: a luxury clothing boutique called Amelie & Frank’s, named after the couple’s daughters. The luxe store in the main village offers rare fragrances, flash fashion and chic accessories from labels such as Thurley, Lucy Folk, Scotch & Soda and Cire Trudon. And now it’s the first independent boutique to stock pieces from influential Melbourne menswear designer Christian Kimber.

It’s part of a broader partnership between the label and Polperro that includes a new, customisable package allowing winery guests to experience the best of Red Hill through Kimber’s fashionable lens. The vineyard was used as the location for the latest Spring/Summer collection’s campaign imagery, and several of Kimber’s designs take inspiration from the Mornington Peninsula region. “It reflects so many of the best parts of the Australian lifestyle: beach, wineries, restaurants, country, farms, wide open spaces and the most spectacular sunsets,” Kimber tells Broadsheet.

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The packages include a stay among the vines, with four private villas ideal for couples (think jacuzzis in the middle of the rooms and linen-swathed king-sized beds), or the beautifully restored 1950s three-bedroom home – known as The Farmhouse, which is perfect for groups of up to six people. Plus, there’s a yoga studio, Hut Yoga & Wellness, offering daily stretch sessions in a charmingly restored barn.

Naturally, there is plenty of great food and wine on the itinerary, with private tastings at the cellar door and reservations at Many Little and the winery’s flagship restaurant, Polperro Vineyard Dining. Head chef Gayan Pieris started at Many Little when the restaurant was a more casual Euro-style wine bar. When Pieris started cooking the Sri Lankan dishes of his heritage for at-home meals during Covid, the feedback was so good he kept at it. Now the menu has evolved into a modern Sri Lankan-Australian offering, with aromatic and gently spiced dishes well-suited to Polperro’s organic and biodynamic wines.

A bountiful kitchen garden on the nearby family home, Coverdale Farm, fuels the menu at both restaurants and is planned up to a year in advance in tune with the seasons. Diners might find crisp lamb pan rolls topped with glossy tamarind gel or tender marinated octopus with rich coconut rice pungent with lime leaves and chilli at Many Little; or a colourful bouquet of the day’s freshest, firmest vegetables – perhaps baby tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini flowers, pea tendrils, kale, silverbeet or kohlrabi – simply paired with caramelised yoghurt and vinaigrette at Polperro Vineyard Dining.

The multi-pronged business is a realisation of a long-held vision for Coverdale and Phillips, with fine wine at the heart of the operation. The vineyard produces almost 200,000 bottles a year across two labels. The Polperro range features single-vineyard and estate wines, such as chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir, grown at five sites over 56 acres in the region, while “label-at-large” Even Keel uses grapes grown in other cold-climate regions, from Heathcote to Canberra, for wines including rosé and shiraz.

The name Even Keel is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Coverdale’s father’s initial reaction to his son starting the venture. “For once in your life can you keep on an even keel?” he said, perhaps preferring a career path less influenced by the weather. But with a booming winery, accommodation, yoga studio, farm, kitchen garden, two restaurants and a luxury fashion boutique, it’s safe to say Coverdale and Phillips are plain sailing.

The Christian Kimber Experience is now available at Polperro. Click here for more info.


The writer was a guest of Polperro.