A sip started it all

By Melissa Walsh   Photos: Yanni   

Set among the rolling vines of the Red Hill hinterland, there’s a wonderful surprise in store when you come across the winery with the unusual name, that’s often hard to pronounce.  Myrtaceae Vineyard and Winery is full of interesting facts and history, the first one being the origin of  the name. Combine the fact that many of the indigenous plants of the region belong to the Myrtaceae botanical family, with the scientific and teaching background of owners, John and Julie Truman, and the reason is clear.

“We didn’t want to give it the usual name, and were busy planting and working on the grounds when the word myrtaceae kept coming up and we thought it was perfect,” said the couple, who started the vineyard in 1985. “The other point is that half of the property is designated to protecting the greenery through the Land for Wildlife scheme so it seemed fitting.”

The journey into becoming vineyard owners started the day the couple went on their honeymoon to the Barossa Valley 40 years ago. There they first tasted good wine and have never looked back.

“That was in the 70s and wine wasn’t very big then,” said John and Julie. “We became obsessed and planted 12 vines in our backyard in Frankston as soon as we got home and the rest is history.”

For the young couple, whose interest in wine and winemaking continued to grow, the next  step was to buy a property.

“We looked everywhere but the peninsula was our favourite spot so we bought our 14 acres and went to work,” said the couple insisting that it was a huge learning curve. “It was a massive challenge for us but we persisted because we are very passionate about what we do. We have learnt the hard way though. Our first vines were cabernet which is how we found out cabernet doesn’t grow in the hinterland.”

Today, the vineyard produces award-winning chardonnay and pinot noir, with new addition of rose; the result of their son Glyn taking a keen interest in winemaking.

“We have just released our rose called Selwyn’s Fault, which won an award at the 2016 MPVA show. We were delighted as our son was very passionate about the project,” they said.

And it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in more than just winemaking. Glyn came up with the name Selwyn as a play on words; Selwyn is both he and his father’s middle name and it also is the scientific name of one of the two fault lines that formed the Mornington Peninsula.

These days, Myrtaceae has two and a half acres under vine and a cellar door that’s open on weekends and public holidays, a far cry from the property when it was full of blackberries with just a house on it.

The relaxed atmosphere the couple have created clearly comes from their own laid back attitude, and a genuine love for their wine.

“We are still learning as we go but have a good system in place,” said Julie, who is the winemaker, while John takes care of the vineyard. “Opening the cellar door in 2004 was great too as it meant we got a chance to meet the customers and give them a bit of understanding into the Myrtaceae label.”

For John, meeting the customers has become one of the best  parts of the job.

“You get to meet so many people, and learn all about them, both locals and visitors,” he said.

The couple are also very proud of being the only winery with the Riedel rolling taster glasses.

“These glasses provide the best way to let people experience the full flavour of our wines. It’s great seeing their face when they sip a wine and then roll it and take another sip. It’s like we have opened a whole new world to them,” said Julie.

Perhaps it’s the passion of the owners, or the fact that they do all the work themselves that makes this boutique winery a real stand- out on the peninsula.

“When you grow the grapes and make the wine yourself on your own property, there is such a sense of satisfaction to see people enjoying it,” they said.


Myrtaceae Vineyard and Winery is at 53 Main Creek Road, Main Ridge.

Phone 5989 2045


As published in Peninsula Essence – February 2017