Victoria's Mornington Peninsula is a well-known winery destination, with over 50 cellar doors to choose from. Recognising that a perfect partner to wine is cheese, the Red Hill Cheesery opened its own 'cellar' door in 2000, to the delight of hungry visitors.
The Red Hill Cheesery produces cow, goat and sheep milk cheeses, ranging from marinated soft cheeses in the feta style, to soft washed rind and rich buttery blue cheeses, as well as harder styles like pecorino.
Arriving at the Cheesery's cellar door is walking into cheese nirvana. The sight and smell of dozens of different cheeses waiting to be eaten is a little overwhelming, so a tasting plate is the ideal way to sample and narrow down your favourites.
The Cheesery's elevated wooden deck, nestled in stringybank forest, is an idyllic spot to enjoy the tastings and take a break from sightseeing and wineries.
The tasting plate arrives with bite-sized morsels of a number of Red Hill's cheeses. A staff member gives a quick explanation of the day's selection, as well as a suggestion on the order in which to try them. Wafer-thin crackers are also supplied, not to eat with the cheese but to cleanse the palate between tastings.
Artisan cheese from the Red Hill Cheesery
The selection on the plate offers plenty of variety. Red Hill's cheeses are made seasonally from free-range goat milk, certified organic cow milk and sheep milk from the cheesemaker's own flock of East Friesian ewes.
Our favourite from the day's selection was the beautifully named Misty Valley, a brie-style goat cheese made with free range goat milk, with a rich ripe flavour.
A marinated fresh curd cheese called Coolart Soft was another favourite, made from organic cow milk. It's a creamy, melt-in-your mouth feta-style cheese marinated in lemon and thyme.
Another tempter was the Mountain Goat Blue, a soft blue goats' cheese. It recently won a Gold medal at the 2010 Dairy Industry Association of Australia.
As well as cheeses, the cellar door offers local produce such as jams and chutneys, and beautiful timber cheese boards to present your purchases on.