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Stretching from Torquay, around Swan Bay and finishing just east of Geelong, western Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula offers a quieter, more tranquil coastal experience than other stretches of the tourist track. Often considered part of the same winemaking sphere, the key difference between the Bellarine and Geelong’s historic Moorabool Valley is the Bellarine’s significant coastal breezes. The two may share a reputation for unique expressions of pinot noir, but the distinctly maritime influence of the Bellarine distinguishes its cool-climate varieties from its inland cousins, with producers continuing to improve the region’s venues showcasing the local produce of this coastal area.
Christina Kaigg

Image courtesy of Curlewis Winery.

Curlewis Winery

Star Cellar Door

(03) 5250 4567

It is easy to overlook Curlewis when travelling around the Bellarine Peninsula. Down an unsealed road, an unassuming wooden A-frame provides the only indication one of Victoria’s most underrated pinot noir producers is open for tastings. Stefano Marasco and Leesa Fryer are the duo behind the tiny estate, having purchased the existing winery and vineyards from self-taught winemaker Rainer Breit and Wendy Oliver in 2011. With the majority of the plantings from 1985, three hectares of Pommard clone pinot noir were added in 2005, lending a uniquely tannic and structured element to their already impressive winemaking style. Learning the craft from Breit himself, Marasco and Fryer now farm the estate using almost entirely Burgundian philosophies, producing exceptionally aromatic pinot noir and chardonnay with a small blended parcel of arneis. The cellar door, housed in the original winery, with its old leather couch, arm chairs and unassuming entrance, is a remarkably easy place to lose track of time; while the hops-lined courtyard and picnic tables keep things relaxed, the Riedel glassware and imported smallgoods selection remind even the most discerning of visitors that an indulgent afternoon is not far away. CHRISTINA  KAIGG

OUTSTANDING WINE: 2018 Curlewis Estate Pinot Noir, A$45

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