With a list of accolades that stretches a mile long, Ten Minutes by Tractor is leading the way with their curation of culinary experiences and cool-climate wines on the Mornington Peninsula. With a freshly renovated fine-dining restaurant and cellar door, new private dining spaces and a seductive underground cellar, the experience is well worth the slow and winding commute into the hinterlands of Main Ridge.
Owners Martin and Karen Spedding had spent years looking for the perfect vineyard to grow pinot and cool-climate wines on a modest scale. They had considered sites in Tasmania and the Yarra Valley, but recognised the huge potential of the Mornington Peninsula, where a range of small, boutique vineyards were producing interesting and high-quality wines.
The Ten Minutes by Tractor journey had begun in the 1990s when a collective of three family-run vineyards emerged in the rolling hills of Main Ridge, each ten minutes by tractor apart. Despite their close proximity, each of the vineyards produced vastly different wines, with distinct styles and profiles emerging from the variations in slopes, soils and altitudes on each of the sites.
"The diversity of landscape provides a rich tapestry of micro-climates, which from a winemaking perspective, means we see big differences in style and personalities of wines that are made closely," explains Martin.
When the three vineyards came together, it created a diverse estate that captured the region's unique and natural wine varieties. When Martin and Karen came across the collective business for sale, they knew they were onto something special.
Since those early days, Ten Minutes by Tractor has grown into a renowned fine-dining destination, managing eight vineyards, a hatted restaurant, an acclaimed cellar door, an intimate private dining room, moody underground cellar and an expansive outdoor terrace with views across the vines.
Following a devastating fire that tore through the property in 2018, the team enlisted the help of close friend Patrick Ness of Cox Architecture to rebuild the facilities. Working collaboratively, they started from scratch in redesigning meaningful, purposeful, and impactful new spaces across the site. With rich, lustrous and reflective surfaces highlighting seasonal changes in the restaurant and cellar door, the exquisite architecture amplifies the sensory experience of the offering.
With Executive Chef Adam Sanderson at the helm and the culinary expertise of Head Chef Hayden Ellis, the restaurant continues to reach new heights and receive recognition on a global scale. Indeed, it was the first two-hatted restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula. Adam applies the same philosophy to the five and eight course degustation menus as the team do to winemaking, focusing on innovation, attention to detail, and a celebration of all things local.
Whilst Adam and his team are known to forage the coastline for native ingredients, their local suppliers include Main Ridge Dairy, Mossy Willow Farm, Mock Orchards, Mushroom Forestry and Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm.
"In the restaurant, our goal is to find those magic combinations between food and wine which have the ability to transform them both," says Martin.
Speaking of the impressive wine line up, you'll find that it's been carefully curated by Head Sommelier Xavier Vigier and judged Australia's best. "As well as showcasing our own vintages, the list includes other wines from the region, from around Australia and around the world. This provides context that enables us to appreciate the wines that are produced here and to have a greater understanding of the versatility of the varieties that we focus on," explains Martin.
As you'd expect from a venue of this calibre, the service is also outstanding; relaxed, understated and utterly refined. It's the same poised and purposeful vibe that echoes throughout the entire operation.
"Eighteen years down the track, and we're still driven by the same two things," says Martin. "A love of wine, and a love of what can be produced here on the Mornington Peninsula". One thing is for sure, Ten Minutes by Tractor has entered a field all of its own.
You can enjoy Ten Minutes By Tractor during lockdown, via The Art Of Dining In.