By Melissa Walsh Photos Yanni
The Melone family have always had a passion for feeding and accommodating people, ever since the grandparents arrived from the south of Italy and had a vision to bring to Australia the best of their small town. Forty years on and the Melones are carrying on the tradition that began in 1980 on a few acres of land, with the second generation running Blue Range Estate, and young son Christian starting his own glamping business on the property. Peninsula Essence talks to Jo, Cosi and Christian about life on the land and keeping the family tradition alive.
“My grandparents established the vineyard in the 1980’s,” said Christian as we sit with his parents, Jo and Cosi enjoying a glass of their famous Blanc de Blanc and enjoying a view of the water that reaches 180 degrees. “Our family has always had a passion for feeding and accommodating people. I believe that this is where my own vision has come from.”
Today the vineyard, cellar door and restaurant are owned by Christian’s parents, Cosi and Jo Melone, with the help of three of his younger siblings.
Francesco De Cicco and his wife, Filomena, had a vision for growing grapes and producing premium wines on the Mornington Peninsula, establishing their first vineyard in 1987.
“The Blue Range Estate in Rosebud has been in my family since 1993 when my father, Francesco De Cicco, purchased the land and house. He put in all the vines as his hobby and created a happy, vibrant holiday home for our family,” said Jo, whose father passed away in 2011. “Cosi and I had been looking after the vines for several years, tending to the 10 hectares and making the wine, so we decided to buy the property and begin running Blue Range Estate as our own family business.”
A combination of hard work and that intrinsic Italian charm and warmth has been the perfect formula for success with Blue Range Estate taking off in leaps and bounds. The Melone family now run the estate as a cellar door, restaurant and accommodation. So it is no surprise that Christian, who looks just like his grandfather, and takes after his industrious spirit, has opened his own business on the property with Mornington Peninsula Glamping.
“Combining camping in comfort with drinking in a vineyard, winery glamping has been popping up all over the country and I thought it would be a great alternative to our own luxury accommodation for those looking for something different,” said Christian, who spent the last two years perfecting the business plan and researching the best tents to purchase. “We have several bell tents on a site overlooking not only the vineyard, but with views out over Port Phillip Bay. Each luxury tent is five-by-five-metres.”
The bell tents are decked out with a queen-sized bed with 1000-thread-count sheets, two armchairs and a coffee table, plus solar power to keep your devices juiced. Visitors also have access to a shared cooking and eating area with two barbecues, hot water, and a choice of boutique tea or coffee, plus luxury bathrooms in a shipping container.
With Italian ancestors that came from Benevento, the city of witches in Campania, and colourful folkloric legends about the region, the Melone family bring a slice of Italy to Rosebud, with the vineyard producing pinot noir, merlot, shiraz, chardonnay and pinot grigio.
So why not combine a lovely meal at the restaurant and a glass or two of vino with a luxury glamping experience and enjoy the best of both worlds.