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Main Ridge Estate for sale

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The Mornington Peninsula’s first commercial winery, Main Ridge Estate (tastings), is for sale, coincidentally having just celebrated its 40th anniversary. 

Owners and founders Nat (pictured above) and Rosalie White have decided that having reached their four score and 10, and having no family interested in taking over, they’d rather take their time finding a suitable new owner than wait on and risk having to make a rushed sale some time in the future. 

The irony is that, having just tasted their new release 2013 (from bottle – tasting) and 2014 (from barrel) pinot noirs, I think these are two of their best-ever vintages. The 2014 is especially compelling, as the notoriously short vintage saw them harvest just 25% of a normal sized crop, but the wine is tremendously deep, concentrated and spectacular. I speak mainly of their top pinot, Half Acre (tastings), but The Acre 2014 is also the best The Acre I can recall ever tasting. “We picked about half a tonne to the acre in 2014 compared with the average yield of two tonnes per acre,” said Nat. “We have two barrels of The Acre, and three of the Half Acre.” 

This is painfully little, especially as just three years before, in the super-wet 2011 vintage, Main Ridge Estate did not bottle any pinot noir. Nat White is a perfectionist and the wine was just not good enough. “We poured 25 barrels down the drain,” he said. That must have broken your heart, I ventured. “No, it would have broken my heart to sell it to anyone,” he replied.

Nat White, quietly spoken and thoughtful, and a true gentleman, is very much the Yoda of the Mornington Peninsula. And he’s not too proud to tell a story against himself. At the recent Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Celebration, he mentioned famous Melbourne restaurateur Hermann Schneider (of Two Faces) had bought a case of his first wine, made from cabernet sauvignon, a grape which today is thought quite unsuited to the peninsula. Years later, Schneider offered to sell what remained of it back to Nat. When the box arrived, there were still 10 bottles in it. One had been tasted by Schneider, the other was the only bottle ever bought by a customer! 

Asked if they’d had any offers for the property, which includes a tiny but immaculate 2.8-hectare vineyard, winery, pocket-sized barrel cellar, and a beautiful home, Rosalie said there had been several expressions of interest but no offer that they would seriously consider. They are in no hurry. 

Nat’s philosophy, summed up in the Celebration booklet, is: “grown and made entirely on the estate, quality entirely uncompromised by any expectations of quantity.” A rare thing indeed.

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