Willow Creek Vineyard
166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North, VIC
03 5989 7448
When the Knowles, Ball and Harris families decided to plant a vineyard on a picturesque 12 hectare cattle property on the Mornington Peninsula, they were unveiling a remarkable site. The east-west orientation of the undulating hills with rich, loamy soils and a favourable micro-climate created an ideal environment for planting 20,000 cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and chardonnay vines in 1988.
The picturesque Willow Creek Vineyard soon became the backdrop to a grand cellar door and dining venue, with McCormick House, the original homestead on the property built in 1876, a regal presence at the end of the long, meandering driveway. As the venue evolved over time to its present sophisticated style, the homestead’s elegant exterior has remained steadfast, creating a historical context within its beautiful bucolic setting.
As viticulturist Robbie O’Leary identified the vineyard’s idiosyncrasies, much of the cabernet was grafted to pinot noir – with small plantings of sauvignon blanc and pinot gris – establishing a site of predominantly chardonnay and pinot noir vines. And when renowned cool climate winemaker Geraldine McFaul joined Robbie in 2008, the formidable pair’s endeavours resulted in some of the highest quality wines in the region.
Robbie’s intimate knowledge of the vines ensured that Geraldine’s transition to winemaker was a smooth one. His fatherly nurturing and intimate knowledge of the vines and climatic characteristics of the region has created a vineyard that not only looks impeccable, but produces grapes of outstanding quality. Geraldine’s extensive cool climate winemaking experience has meant that Willow Creek Vineyard’s estate grown wines show distinctive varietal characters, integrity and elegance and are a true expression of the hand tending that is pivotal to wine quality from this venerable site. Her sparkling pinot noir and chardonnay blend, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignons are all delightful to drink upon release, many with the ability to cellar for a number of years.
The entire Willow Creek Vineyard range is available to taste in the stylish and ambient bluestone and timber cellar door, the purpose built tasting room in the barrel hall or in Salix Restaurant and Bistro. The cellar door has a crackling fire in winter and is a cool, calm oasis in summer. The cellar door staff are knowledgeable and welcoming and are renowned for their interesting and educational discussions and barrel hall tours.