The beaches are empty, ice cream vans silent and the deck chairs stacked away but tourists, many of them Millennials, are still visiting the Mornington Peninsula in droves. Peninsula Link and growing interest in high-quality wine go part-way to explaining this surge but the real kicker can be found in beautiful images amassing on social media.
Millennials love to travel, and their wanderlust for wine, food and adventure is encapsulated in winter imagery that connects people more than ever before. Redefining a region once known for the words “Sorry Closed” over this time of year, a stream of snapshots celebrate drinking Pinot Noir while wearing a beanie.
Just outside the sleepy township of Balnarring, the $50million Jackalope Hotel is full of cutting-edge art and design. Here, the Rare Hare cloakroom is festooned in rabbit fur pelts and is currently the most photographed cubic-metre on the Peninsula. Such tourist hot spots are part of a pictorial narrative. Gatherings in Foxeys Hangout, Polperro and Port Phillip Estate and other cellar doors and eateries feature in Facebook posts shared again and again.
Western Port is suddenly the go-to-place for a winter escape and this spike has neighbouring cellar doors booming. One operator reports an increase in wine sales by over 150%. Winter is our most romantic season. Nature is delicate and fragile and the sea has a gorgeous greenness with a wide-screen palette of soft colours and light so evocative to photograph. This season has hundreds of visitors roaming around wrapped in scarfs, hanging in cellar doors or around sculptures and flowering gums. A sophisticated narrative of opulent warm winter feasting has put the region right out there on Instagram, Facebook and on the Twittersphere.
Wine tourism is a bit like social media. If you are all alone on Facebook it’s of no interest. But if you are many, and the offer is multifarious and exciting, things start to happen. Jackalope and other new eateries have got Peninsula visitors buzzing. Soon, the $40million Point Leo Estate winery, sculpture park and restaurant will open with the ex-Rockpool chef, Phil Wood in a dining room overlooking the vast ocean beyond Western Port Bay. The more wineries, restaurants, hotels, tourist offices, and shops that are involved and cooperate, the better it works. The wine pioneers of this region remain a close-knit and collaborative group. It’s been a long wait, but now there’s genuine excitement about the offer all everyone is saying is bring it on!