You can feel the history of Willow Creek as you pass through the red brick gate posts and catch your first glimpse of the homestead circa 1880
Willow Creek Vineyard is an estate of 12 hectares spreading across three slopes of undulating hills at Merricks North in the renowned cool climate region of Mornington Peninsula. The estate lies in the rain shadow, north east of Red Hill at an altitude of between 80 and 100 metres. It is slightly warmer and drier while still retaining the maritime influence. This provides a long cool ripening season, intense varietal characters, high natural acidity and fine tannins.
In 1988, the Harris, Ball and Knowles families purchased the property of Willow Creek. At that time, there were remnants of its past life scattered over the property indicating that over time it has served as an orchard, dairy and sheep farm. Cattle were agisted here, and there were numerous old sheds, fences and the original red brick Victorian homestead built in 1860s. The following year, the vineyard was established with the planting of 12 acres of Pinot Noir, 9 acres of Chardonnay, 7 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Originally a large mixed farm on a larger landholding the historic red brick homestead dates back to the 1880s. Soils range from volcanic derived red/brown clay loams in the west, changing to grey sandy loam at our eastern edge. The vineyard was planted on the original homestead block to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The mix of varieties has been expanded in recent years with the addition of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
Willow Creek wines show complexity and delicacy, and are clean and stylish. The wines celebrate the unique terroir of the site in its regional context. The grape growing philosophy is uncompromising:- the best wine comes from the best fruit. To this end, the winemaker works closely with the vineyard manager and staff to appraise the state of the soil, vine health, trellis method and fruit maturation. Ongoing vine trellising and canopy management innovations continue to fine-tune the vineyard to control yields and maximise fruit quality.
The winemaking philosophy is one of respect for natural and traditional winemaking but overseen with a keen eye for detail and modern quality control. A four hectare lake provides ample supplementary water for the vines if needed, as well as providing a home to a variety of resident wild water birds. The birds get the most use out of the dam now that the vines are established and accustomed to using the natural rainfall. The intention is to be totally dry grown.
The vintages increased and a portion of the grape harvest was sold to offset costs. Show results were the only form of marketing, word of mouth, tasting in liquor stores, wine dinners and participation in regional fairs etc. Major development took place in 1998 when the winery, barrel room, restaurant and cellar door were built. New viticulture, winemaking and management strategies were implemented to further develop potential as a producer of some of the finest single estate wines. Re-trellising and moisture monitoring were implemented, and the Willow Creek Vineyard label was redesigned. In 2003 Willow Creek became the first, and still only, simultaneous holder of both Mornington Peninsula Vignerons' Association Trophies for Best Red Wine and Best White Wine.
In 2005, James Halliday, in his Australian Wine Companion awarded Willow Creek the coveted 5 star top rating for outstanding achievement. Ever since the first sod was turned the vision for Willow Creek has been to produce a best of best experience for all, whether they are wine lovers seeking something for that special occasion or visitors looking for that total winery experience. Willow Creek continue to strive for this today and as the goal into the future.