Meet Marco Gjerga, owner of the award-winning wine and dining destination
Siblings Marco and Melissa Gjergja run the well-known Port Philippe estate set up by their parents in the Mornington Peninsula’s wine region in 2000. What started as a family hobby has now grown into a full-fledged business and 150-acre estate, and one of the region’s most exciting food – the lunch is a must-try, and wine destinations.
Before you hit the road and embark on a tour of the best wineries in Victoria, we sat with Marco Gjergja to get a taste of what to expect when visiting Port Phillip Estate.
The unique climate of the Mornington Peninsula
This region is a maritime, cool-climate wine region, 75 kilometres southeast of Melbourne. The region’s climate is strongly influenced by the weather patterns of the Southern Ocean, and constantly moderated by maritime influences during the growing season. The peninsula’s surrounding waters and the cool winds from the south, east and west combine to provide a climate ideal for growing pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris.
Mornington Peninsula wines show great finesse and are packed full of intensity, structure, and texture.
The viticultural philosophy of Port Phillip Estate
Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong Wines are specialist pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris producers. Our family own and run three vineyards and a winery on the Mornington Peninsula, and all our wines are domain grown, vinified, and bottled. That said, the wines we produce follow a strict start-to-end process. Our viticultural philosophy is to develop and maintain a soil and vineyard biota that produces a balanced vine living sustainably in its environment.
Our biological farming system is driven by the belief that the health of our vineyard soil underpins wine quality, and we practise low intervention in the winery. Fermentation of all our wines occurs spontaneously with native ambient yeasts, and this is also the case for malolactic fermentation.
We only use wholly French oak for all our barrel-matured wines, red and white. All our red wines are unfined and unfiltered. Our white wines are all unfined and at times also unfiltered, and we also bottle all our wines in-house.
At Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong Wines, we believe all our wines should convey a sense of the place and season in which they were grown, and the winemaking philosophy is to preserve the inherent characteristics present in the fruit, resulting in site-expressive wines of detail and structure.
In addition, experimentation is an essential element of our winemaking ethos. It sees us developing and trialling various winemaking techniques, reassessing and expanding on traditional methods, highlighting specific parcels of fruit, and exploring diverse wine styles.
Our ‘pilot’ wines bring to bottle the experimentation and play of our winemaking team and are produced in limited quantities, available exclusively from our Cellar Door. Some of our ‘pilot’ wines include the Port Phillip Estate Amber Pinot Gris, a skin-contact pinot gris; the Port Phillip Estate Pinot Noir Nouveau, a vibrant, fresh pinot noir intended to be enjoyed in its youth; and the Port Phillip Estate Pinot Noir Shiraz, a distinctly Australian blend that was originally popularised in the 40s and 50s and is enjoying a comeback.
We believe the relationship between food and wine is symbiotic; in both pursuits we strive to highlight terroir and seasonality. A classic wine and food pairing to try when visiting Port Phillip Estate, and currently one of our most popular main course dishes, is the central Victorian duck, beetroot sauerkraut, and pickled estate blackberries accompanied by a glass (or two) of Kooyong Single Block Haven Pinot Noir.
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