Tom Portet is a Peninsula local with a love for wine. He opened Red Hill Wine Collective and Nordie Cafe with his wife Rina in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula’s wine region. He describes himself as “pretty down to earth” but beyond that he’s also just very easy to get along with. All too happy to talk wine with you for hours, he’s a wealth of knowledge on all things local and international beverages.
The Portet family’s winemaking roots go deep, following the footsteps of 10 generations of winemakers, dating back to 1698. “People are a bit shocked by how grounded we are,” he shares, saying g’day to a customer as they walk in.
Feeling like everyone is running in the same direction, he’s clearly going against the grain of traditional wine culture, thinking small not big. Before opening the two Red Hill ventures, he held a corporate fine-wine buying position for many years, but found his allegiance lay with the more relaxed and personal side of wine culture.
“I only stock what I like because the store represents who I am – I’m not pushing something I don’t want to push”.
Tom tastes up to 100 wines a week, looking for the perfect addition to the 300 bottles on the shelves at RHWC. He has a clear preference for wares from small producers, both here and internationally.
“I think you can see it in the wine quality, if it’s handmade and not mass-produced it tends to work”.
Working on and in the business, both Nordie and RHWC are always on the improve under Tom and Rina’s guidance. A welcome addition to the Red Hill community, they have lived in Copenhagen and Paris, among other places, but are happy to be settled with their three children down here.
“It’s fun getting to manage the two (venues)," Tom says. "People come here because they know they’re going to get something good, and perhaps it has something to do with the people here too.
“Life’s good here,” he concludes, and we agree.