Circe is a partnership inspired by growing up on the Mornington Peninsula and a love of Pinot Noir.
Dan Buckle and Aaron Drummond met at Mount Langi Ghiran in 2007. After a vintage of Shiraz it was inevitable that the conversation would turn to any other varietal except Shiraz. With both of us growing up on the Mornington Peninsula, we were keen and curious as to what we could do with Pinot Noir from such great soil.
The name Circe derives from Homer and is a nice metaphor for the seductions – and perils – of Pinot Noir.
Tod Dexter grew up with wine. Along with his parents' considerable interest
in wine he had a childhood friendship with the Crittendon family, one of Melbourne's premium wine merchants who further introduced him to the
world of wine. It was then no surprise that in 1974 after a skiing trip in the US,
Tod ended up in the Napa Valley where he spent a seven-year apprenticeship with one of California's premium family wineries, Cakebread Cellars.
Tod moved home to Australia in January 1987, and after an extensive
search he and his wife Debbie bought a vineyard site at Merricks North on
the Mornington Peninsula. Later that year they planted their first 1.6 hectares
of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tod then joined forces with Brian Stonier at Stonier Wines where, over the next ten years, he grew the company to become one of Australia's premium producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. During this decade the wines Tod created received many accolades both
at home and internationally.
During a formative trip to France in 2000 when they visited the most famous Pinot producers in the world, Tod gained a new respect for the concept of terroir and the responsibility to future generations in caring for the land. He also had reinforced to him the importance of attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery. This trip was what encouraged Tod and Debbie to take the next step and produce their own wine. Thus Dexter Wines was born.
Terrific vineyards, surf beaches and a close proximity to Melbourne mean the Mornington Peninsula is the perfect home for Even Keel, Sam Coverdale and his family.
Having grown up surfing the beaches of northern New South Wales and South East Queensland, Sam started out as a vintage cellar hand at Tyrrell’s at just 18 years of age, before completing degrees in Business from the University of Queensland and Wine Science at Charles Sturt University.
Sam joined Hardy’s, working across several Australian wine regions, then in Spain, Italy and France learning from the likes of Jean-Marc Lafage. Through this technical grounding and experience, Sam developed a strong sense of the wine he loves to drink and make – wine that plays to the strengths of particular regions and is true to the climatic conditions of each vintage.
He established Even Keel in 2006 with a view to creating drinkable, balanced and elegant wines that continue to interest beyond the first glass.
After two decades of owning and running popular and award-winning Melbourne hospitaity businesses, brothers Michael and Tony Lee turned their years of love and knowledge of fine wines into a livelihood on Victoria's beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
The brothers planted their first vineyard in 1997, at Merricks North near the iconic Peninsula road junction named Foxeys Hangout, from which our label takes its name.
The pair later assumed the management of the former Massoni vineyard at Red Hill then owned by their mentor, the Australian sparkling wine pioneer Ian Home. The brothers have undertaken further plantings of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris in Red Hill on a historic farming property, the home of Foxeys' winery and cellar door.
Garagiste premium Mornington Peninsula wines truly express a sense of the place where they were grown. Focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir we intend to highlight the subtleties of the Peninsula's different sub-regions with small batches of very limited wines.
Hurley Vineyard wraps north to east around the crest of a little volcanic hill in three climats: Lodestone, Hommage and Garamond. Sunlit and airy, it is protected by the surrounding topography.
We owe our terroir to fire and water – the fire of the Eocene volcanoes and the waters of the Southern Ocean, the Tasman Sea and the Port Phillip and Western Port Bays. The volcanoes provided our soil – which is very dark reddish-brown in colour and very fine sandy clay-loam in texture. Full of ironstone, it is free-draining and moisture-retentive. The ocean, sea and two bays - which the Mornington Peninsula runs between - moderate our climate and keep it even and cool.
Hurley Vineyard is at 90 m altitude in the south-eastern lowland hills of the Peninsula in the sub-region formed by Balnarring and Merricks. It has a rainfall of about 750 mm annually. With 350 mm usually falling in the growing season, the low-yielding vines are not irrigated. This is beautiful terroir for growing Pinot Noir.
Chris and Gail Aylward started producing wine on the Peninsula in 1997. This began with the planting of the Kooyong site and development of a ‘state of the art’ winery at Kooyong. The focus was top quality wine that suited the climate of the Mornington Peninsula. Quality was maintained by controlling all aspects of production including vineyard management, winemaking and bottling.
Kooyong was sold in 2004 to the Gjerja Family also owners of Port Philip Estate.
After the sale of Kooyong the Aylward family ventured back into the wine scene with a new set-up on the Mornington Peninsula ‘Ocean Eight’. The Ocean Eight Winery was built into the hillside at the family’s property in Shoreham. This enabled a temperature controlled, gravity fed winery that would help enhance the quality of all wine made on site.
While waiting for the first pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot noir crops to be picked Mike Aylward, son of Chris and Gail, travelled extensively through Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne to determine styles and quality winemaking techniques. Mike Aylward visited many of the great Burgundy and Alsatian domains on these travels.
Luke O'Connor joined Ocean Eight in the first year as viticulturist. With such a strong emphasis on vineyard management and quality fruit production, Luke was the perfect man for the job.
All Ocean Eight’s wines are made in small quantities/batches to ensure high quality and a focused style of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris can be achieved.
At Prancing Horse Estate we aim to achieve balanced wines with intense flavours and structure. Our imprint on the Australian and French wine landscapes has been achieved through an uncompromising approach using organic and biodynamic principles in our vineyards and in the winery. Throughout the winemaking process, Prancing Horse winemaker, Sergio Carlei oversees the gentlest biodynamic approach.
In the Vineyard, Paul Danaher and his team engage in a rigorous program of biodynamic viticulture. The aim is to improve wine quality and optimise fruit flavours the natural way by continually improving the quality of the soil. These elements have fused and frame our ambition to be regarded as one of Australia's truly great cool-climate producers.
Stonier Wines was established at Merricks, on the cool southern edge of Victoria's picturesque Mornington Peninsula, in 1977. One of the first wineries in the region, Stonier first planted Chardonnay vines in 1978, followed by Pinot Noir in 1982. By 1988 the vineyard had expanded to 6 hectares, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the core focus for the winery. These two varieties are what Stonier, and the Mornington Peninsula, has built its reputation on.
Willow Creek Vineyard is located in Merricks North on Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Spread across three undulating slopes on 12 hectares, our 20-year-old vines are amongst the oldest on the peninsula. Small we may be, but we have set out to craft outstanding wines that impart a special sense of place when you are drinking them inside or outside our gates.