Fertile grazing land for over 100 years prior, the 11-hectare Willow Creek Vineyard was planted in 1989. Surrounded by the ocean on three sides – creating a cool maritime climate – Willow Creek Vineyard is bordered by native bushland that harbours wrens, wagtails, and honeyeaters. The vineyard is patrolled by families of magpies, while pairs of wedgetail eagles live in the old pine tree windbreaks. Mobs of grey kangaroos also move across the vineyard at dawn and dusk.

The vines themselves are planted east-west and form neat, vertical hedges through late spring to late January when the nets go on to prevent the marauding birds and kangaroos from eating the crop. Harvest is in mid-March, then the vineyard slowly transforms to golden, falling leaves, which mulch the vine rows, while the bare vines are pruned back to sparse canes to commence the whole season again.

Winemaker Geraldine McFaul’s understanding of the terroir and its subtleties is instinctive, while her careful and complementary handling creates expressive wines where less is more. Manipulation of the intrinsic balance provided by each season is avoided wherever possible.

With a fastidious focus on cool­-climate chardonnay and pinot noir, the wines are a pure expression of the site and some of the most elegant single-vineyard wines on the Mornington Peninsula. Under the expert hands of original viticulturists Robbie O’Leary and Ant Davenport, Willow Creek Vineyard’s fruit is hand tended, block by block in regard to pruning, canopy management, yield control, and harvest.

Willow Creek Vineyard Chardonnay typically exhibits notes of stone fruit and citrus, while a judicious touch of new French oak bestows a delicate nutty character. The palate balances a creamy texture against a backbone of flint, while a fresh line of acidity drives the palate.

Our Pinot Noir is enticingly perfumed, displaying lifted aromas of wild red cherries and forest floor, while the palate possesses a structured elegance of finely etched tannins. A portion of whole-bunch and carbonic maceration yields greater structure and complexity to the fruit from our O’Leary Block.

When working with exemplary fruit, McFaul says the biggest challenge is “doing less rather than more”. For the wines from the Willow Creek Vineyard it’s all about letting the vineyard shine through. Acknowledging consistent excellence across successive vintages, James Halliday’s Wine Companion has awarded Willow Creek Vineyard 5 Red Stars, for producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity.