Visitor Publications

In the Vines ... Geraldine McFaul and Keith Harris chat with Arthur O'Bryan

Published: Wednesday 11th of January 2012


WILLOW CREEK’S WINEMAKER GERALDINE MCFAUL one of the shinning lights of the Mornington Peninsula where she has worked since graduating with distinction in Wine Science from Charles Sturt University. Since 1995, her winemaking career has allowed her to complete vintages in the Loire Valley and Burgundy and has taken her to the London International Wine Show where her wine has won the highest accolades in International competition. In 2006 she was runner-up to Stephen Henschke in the Qantas Australian Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year Award. Today her focus is to create wines of typicity that express each vintage and the terroir of the Willow Creek vineyard.  Geraldine says "I just try to let the character of the vineyard speak louder than the winemaking." We caught up with this hard working farmer’s daughter for a quick chat:

What made you want to live on the Mornington Peninsula?
I had a vintage job at Stonier but I soon realised the Peninsula had all the benefits of country life, with proximity to a great city.

What do you love most about the Mornington Peninsula?
The mild climate, beautiful countryside and the fact that you can walk  your dogs on the beach and most of the year only see other dog walkers...  Oh, and there's great wine.

What is the Peninsula’s best kept secret?
Definitely Western Port. It doesn't have quite the urban build up of Port Philip Bay side, so you get a real village feel, but there's excellent restaurants, great beaches and isn't quite so manic over the summer.

What thing should visitors to the region definitely try?
An early evening plunge at the Peninsula Hot Springs pools, freshly-picked Red Hill cherries, and the sublime Mornington Peninsula chocolates – possibly simultaneously.

What's your favourite summer food and wine pick?
2010 Willow Creek Chardonnay and a freshly caught snapper barbequed  and enjoyed at the beach with the family.

You're stranded on a desert island and the only wine you’d have is:
Champagne either Louis Roederer or Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru.

This Christmas you'll be drinking:
Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

When you're not making wine you like to:
Guard the vegetable garden from snails and birds and take my two boys, my husband and our Labradors on a fabulous beach adventure.

The future of the Peninsula's wine and tourism industry is:
Continuing to refine and specialise in the things we do well – cool climate wines, cherries, apples, strawberries and artisan products like cheeses and chocolates and preserves.

Keith Harris is a man with an indomitable spirit for adventure.  He gave up a city based marketing career to follow his dream and run vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula. Since 1992, he has overseen the planting and management of Yabby Lake vineyards, guiding the vines through one of the worst droughts in the region's history. Today, Yabby Lake wines enjoy a solid reputation. Keith works side-by-side with winemaker Tom Carson to produce wines that reflect the terroir and individuality of their Mornington Peninsula sites. The vineyards are located in Red Hill and Moorooduc with fifty acres of Pinot Noir, thirty acres of Chardonnay, twelve acres of Pinot Gris, and five acres of Shiraz.  The opening of a brand new Yabby Lake cellar door on the Moorooduc property is an exciting development for the region and a significant step for this outstanding producer.  We caught up with Keith and his English springer spaniel, Max, in the vineyard.

What made you want to live on the Peninsula?
I have always visited and enjoyed the Peninsula and was very excited to be offered the opportunity to help set up Yabby Lake Vineyard with the objective of making world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It also enabled my wife, Cathie, the chance to return to her family on the Peninsula where she grew up as a girl.

What do you love most about the Peninsula?
Keith: Driving down and seeing the blue water of the bay really lifts my spirits.
Max: Running on the beach and swimming at Mount Martha.

What are the Peninsula's best kept  secret for humans?
Keith: The number of kangaroos and other wild life is a great surprise.

What's the best kept  secret for dogs?
Max: Chasing birds in the vineyard.

What's one thing visitors to the  region should definitely try?
Visiting different Cellar Doors and restaurants brings many great experiences. The peninsula now has five 'hatted' restaurants which is an outstanding achievement.

What's your favourite  summer food & wine pick:
Keith: A yabby pasta with a glass of Pinot Noir.
Max: A marrow bone with a bowl of water.

You're stranded on a desert island and the only wine you'd have is:
Keith: A Yabby Lake 2010 Single Vineyard Chardonnay.

This Christmas you'll be drinking:
Keith: Pommery Champagne.

When you're not making wine you like to...
Keith: Travel around Australia. It is a vast and beautiful country.

The future of the Peninsula's wine and tourism industry is...
Keith: Assured if the quality of the wine and food continues to improve as it has done in recent years.

Read more – Page 98

More information on – Glynt Manor, Yabby Lake Vineyard, Willow Creek Vineyard

Click here to see more articles from the magazine