Established by Baillieu Myer in 1972, Elgee Park is the oldest vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula
Baillieu (Bails) Myer A.C. became interested in winemaking after a visit by David Wyn in 1970. The picturesque property is situated at the end of Wallaces Road, Merricks North, approximately 80 km by road from Melbourne and 30 km from Sorrento. The cellar door is now situated at the Merricks General Wine Store. Baillieu (Bails) and Sarah Myer have seen the fulfillment of a vision which began many years ago. With careful nurturing, they have created a unique place from where many award winning wines originate. Today the 5 hectares under vine comprise riesling, chardonnay, viognier, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot and small plantings of pinot gris and shiraz.
The vineyard covers the north facing slope of a natural amphitheatre, with a view across Port Phillip Bay to the Melbourne skyline, as depicted on the wine label. Surrounded by gardens, the vineyard area also includes a gazebo, sculptures, hand-hewn post and rail fences and an array of roses at the end of each vine row. Elgee Park is regarded as one of the Peninsula’s warmer sites, as it is protected by both the local terrain and windbreaks planted around the perimeter. The property enjoys the temperate maritime climate, similar to that of the Bordeaux region of France.
It is little wonder that the Mornington Peninsula region today comprises around 200 vineyards and 50 wineries with cellar doors. The Mornington Peninsula is virtually surrounded by sea. The region receives good rainfall throughout the growing season. The climate offers an extended ripening period, ideal for premium grape growing.
It’s described as the heartbreak grape – fickle, volatile, sensual and difficult – but the Mornington Peninsula has found the right formula to produce Pinot Noir. In fact, the Mornington Peninsula has been described by some as Australia’s answer to Burgundy. Its treatment in the winery is crucial, where the ferment must be closely monitored, the pressing gentle and the oak, the most expensive French.
Pinot Noir grows best in marginal, cool climates. Soil type and aspect are also more important for pinot than for other varieties. Elgee Park planted Pinot Noir in 1988, a late addition to the vineyard’s first plantings of 1972. The vineyard is perfectly located to take advantage of the long, cool growing season and the fertility of the soils make the Peninsula good for quality grape growing. Elgee Park Pinot Noir is a ruby red, sophisticated pinot with a soft finish.
Chardonnay is one of the main varieties grown on the Mornington Peninsula, and with great success. Since Elgee Park released its first Chardonnay in the mid 1980s, it has found a steady following. Chardonnay grown in cooler climates is more likely to demonstrate flavours associated with grapefruit, cashew, peach and melon. The fruit has higher natural acidity, great intensity and a lower pH. Australia’s most sought after grapes for sparkling wine come from vineyards located in the cooler southern regions. Elgee Park’s location in the cool climate Mornington Peninsula region makes it an ideal place to produce grapes with the delicate flavours and high acidity required for base wines. Using the classic Champagne selection of chardonnay and pinot noir, Elgee Park has produced a sparkling wine with a biscuity aroma, light bead and lengthy finish.
To this day Bails is still very much a hands on proprietor and it is not unusual to see him, secateurs in hand, carefully tending the vines he planted with so much care all those years ago. Personally overseeing the harvest each year, it is his devotion to every detail which makes the Elgee Park label such a prestigious one.