Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate are two of the Mornington Peninsula’s enduring stars. Glen Hayley took on the role of chief winemaker of both estates in 2015, and he has been subtly refining the classic Mornington offering of chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris and a little shiraz, with a specialisation in single-block bottlings, reflecting the intricacies of the site through the lens of gentle, transparent winemaking.
When the Gjergja family bought Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong, they invested heavily, building the most significant cellar door and restaurant the region had yet seen. That investment said a lot about their long-term intent. They were there to stay. The early work that had been carried out at Kooyong Estate by the Aylward family (now Ocean Eight) and winemaker Sandro Mosele was continued and enhanced, with an enduring focus on exploring the nuances of sites within their vineyards.
Hayley started his education with an arts degree that got shelved for one in viticulture and wine sciences. That shift in direction was due to a year of mid-degree overseas travel that opened his eyes to the world of wine. Since then, Hayley has worked vintages overseas in California, the Loire Valley, Central Otago and the Mosel Valley, and back home in the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, Central Victoria and elsewhere in Mornington.
Hayley joined the winemaking team in 2010, while Mosele was still in charge, and the pair worked together for six years. When Mosele moved on, Hayley took on the overarching winemaking duties of both estates. Hayley’s winemaking is classic and uncluttered, with native yeasts and natural malolactic bacteria employed. Gravity is harnessed for transferring fruit and wine, and all oak is French. The wines are not fined and mostly unfiltered.
“I love wine with purity and hope to convey that in our wine,” says Hayley. “Our wines are very much a reflection of the Mornington Peninsula, but always looking for elegance, a balance between supple fruit, fine savouriness and length with full respect to the site that it was grown on.”
Today, Hayley works across the estates and a panoply of blocks. The Kooyong vineyard is a 40-hectare site in the sub-region of Tuerong (planted 1996), while the original 9-hectare Port Phillip Estate vineyard in Red Hill (1987) is supplemented by the 11-hectare Balnarring property (1997). The Kooyong range features estate wines as well as single-site bottlings across their five distinct blocks: Faultline, Farrago, Meres, Haven and Ferrous. Port Phillip Estate bottle their oldest blocks in Red Hill under the Morillon banner, with the rest of the range defined by subzone and variety.
“It’s been very much a focus on pinot noir and chardonnay, aiming high, creating detailed wines with longevity,” says Hayley. “Things are loosening up a bit now, I am enjoying seeing pinot gris on skins, early release pinot noir and maybe even some different varieties in the ground that’ll appear in the future.”