For lovers of food and drink, a pilgrimage to beautiful Red Hill is well worth the 90-minute drive from Melbourne. It doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of neighbouring Portsea and Sorrento, but really, that only adds to Red Hill’s appeal. The area is full of rolling hills covered in vines, while the fertile soil means that every second farm gate you pass has a stall out the front selling avocados, cherries and even local cider.
Here are some highlights from Red Hill and its surrounds:
Morning Sun Vineyard
Sitting in the sunshine looking out over the vines while sipping a glass of Morning Sun's buttery chardonnay has to be one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. This is a winery with it all: a spectacular setting, interesting wine straight from the cellar door and fantastic food. While Morning Sun is known for its lightly charred wood-fired pizzas, the fat polenta chips (complete with creamy Gorgonzola sauce) are winners too.
337 Main Creek Road, Main Ridge
(03) 5989 6571
The Flinders Hotel has recently been renovated and is looking decidedly slick for a country pub. The menu is seafood-heavy with oh-so-fresh and briny oysters and marinara chock full of plump prawns and mussels. If weather permits, sit outside on the deck and watch the world go by.
Cnr Cook and Wood Streets, Flinders
(03) 5989 0201
Foxey’s Hangout may be a winery, but food is central to the offering here. Inspired by the Mediterranean, there are dishes like zucchini fritters, lamb meatballs and barbecued quail. The philosophy is to let the produce speak for itself – a motto that applies to both the food and wine.
795 White Hill Road, Red Hill (03) 5989 2022
Merricks General Store
Merricks General Store does it all. There’s a cafe, cellar door and food store, which occupy the front part of the building, with wine tasting and local jams, relishes and sauces for sale. The dining room serves food showcasing the best produce the Peninsula has to offer.
3460 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks
(03) 5989 8088
Peninsula Hot Springs
These natural thermal mineral water pools and baths are perfect for relaxing. Set amongst beautiful bushland, look out for the adults-only springs and the hilltop pool with its panoramic views. It’s best to book as the springs are very popular at peak times.
Springs Lane, Fingal
(03) 5950 8777
Red Hill Brewery
One of Victoria’s best microbreweries, Red Hill Brewery is an island of beer in a sea of vines. Try the beer paddle to sample a selection of brews alongside simple, rustic meals like the ploughman’s lunch or a steak sandwich.
88 Shoreham Road, Red Hill
(03) 5989 2959
Sunny Ridge Berry Farm
Sunny Ridge farm lets visitors pick their own fresh berries (during summer) or pick up a box ready to go from the store, although the DIY picking is by far the most entertaining option. There’s also a dessert cafe which sells ice cream and sorbet made on the premises from the farm’s berries and also offers chocolate fondue and Belgian chocolate-dipped strawberries.
244 Shands Road, Main Ridge
(03) 5989 4500
Mussels from the Flinders pier
On Saturdays and during the holidays, a fisherman called Harry sells local mussels at the end of the Flinders pier. You can't get much fresher than this as the mussels are straight off the boat. Harry will advise you how many mussels you need and give you tips for cooking them.
Flinders Pier, Flinders
Red Hill House
This luxury homewares store is a treasure trove packed with things you never knew you needed, like jewel coloured cutlery, cookbooks and delicate crockery. All the stock is beautifully arranged and the goods on offer change regularly so it’s worth making a stop.
169 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South
(03) 5931 0225
Lush green vineyards provide a picturesque setting for Lindenderry. The grounds here are spectacular while the well-appointed rooms include thoughtful extras like fluffy bathrobes and a selection of magazines. There’s a day spa and a swimming pool as well, so once you’re ensconced in the hotel you don’t really need to leave. Even if you don’t stay here, you can visit just for a meal and sample some of Lindenderry’s wines.
142 Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill
(03) 5989 2933
George’s Boutique B&B and Culinary Retreat
This exclusive bed and breakfast is situated at the top of Arthurs Seat, offering sensational views. There are only four rooms and they all feature rain showers, wood fires and Molton Brown products in the bathrooms. George’s also boasts a cooking school, which features residential cooking retreats alongside short courses.
776 Arthurs Seat Road, Arthurs Seat
(03) 5981 8700