Food & Drink Magazine

The Gardens of Red Hill

By Patinoz

Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula is one of our favorite destinations, particularly if we want to take visiting friends for a drive and a vineyard lunch. Recently we lingered there a bit longer enjoying a dinner, bed and breakfast voucher The Spouse received as a gift.

Our base was Lindenderry at Red Hill, an attractive hotel in a vineyard and garden setting.  We were soon relaxing over afternoon tea in one of the several comfortable lounges, admiring the surrounding trees.

The hotel is a popular conference and wedding venue and we ambled through the gardens before sitting in one of the outdoor courtyards for a late afternoon ale.

At dinner, we had a chance to taste the various Lindenderry wines before selecting one to have with our meal. The menu is driven by local produce such as goat cheese, Flinders mussels, fish, beef. And it includes vegetarian choices.

I was elected officer in charge of activities for the next day. I picked up a copy of the Mornington Peninsula Gourmet Guide from the front desk and thanks to a comprehensive list of growers, producers and provedores and a numbered map, I soon had a plan of attack.

At our first stop we chose some wines and cheeses from an excellent range of local products at the nearby Cellar and Pantry store.

Further down the road was Montalto Vineyard. I’ve visited here before and was keen to buy more of their verjuice.  They have an excellent one for cooking and another, Verj, for drinking over ice or with soda. Great on a hot day and alcohol-free.

Montalto is also home to a one-hat restaurant plus a café. But there’s more. The property is dotted with amazing sculptures. On show until the end of April are the finalists in Montalto’s sculpture prize. There’s also a lush vegetable garden on-site.

Green Olive was my next choice. A couple of years ago one of the sons gave me a hamper containing their olives and oils and I wanted some more of both. Here they grow olives, grapes, vegetables and herbs, and raise chooks, sheep and fish. They have farm-to-fork grazing plates available all day along with Kelpie Bridge wines. We sampled their oils and olives and came away with plenty of both plus a dozen of the lovely chook eggs. We plan to lunch there next trip.

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is Australia’s largest strawberry producer and there were plenty of takers eager to pick their own. They have a well-stocked shop featuring farm gate produce, fresh berries and local gourmet produce, and a cellar door. I bought raspberries and deliciously sweet small strawberries along with some raspberry and strawberry ciders.

By now we’d worked up an appetite and fellow food bloggers had recommended we stop off at Red Hill Brewery and Eatery for lunch. This is set in the bush and the brewery grows its own hops for its range of beers. We sipped a cool one over a generous ploughman’s platter and bought a selection of beers to take home.

A bit more sightseeing and it was on to the Red Hill Baker. We’d visited here previously on a very chilly Sunday when a sign advertising live jazz coaxed us to enter. While the jazz sessions have now moved to their larger Balnarring premises, the baking continues so we went for some carrot cake and coffee before heading home.

This is only a small taste of what the peninsula has to offer but we had to leave some for another day.

Join us as we wander round the gardens of Red Hill – first Lindenderry, then the herb garden at Green Olive, the hop patch at Red Hill Brewery and the kitchen garden at Montalto.

  • If you’re visiting Victoria, check out http://www.visitvictoria.com/ where you’ll find plenty of information on current attractions, smart phone and iPad apps, route planners, videos, how to get there, where to stay, where to eat – and more.

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