The Mornington Peninsula is where the residents of Australia\u2019s second-largest city go to escape. It\u2019s also a renowned wine region, with an emphasis on cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are rarely exported, so a visit to Mornington is often the only way to sample a broad range.\r\n\r\nMost of the wineries and vineyards are small\u2014two thirds of the region\u2019s 150 vineyards are less than 10 acres\u2014which makes encounters with owners or winemakers more likely during visits. As anyone who\u2019s ever asked a question of a tasting-room pourer and been met with a blank stare knows, that\u2019s a definite plus.\r\n\r\nTo add to the appeal, most of the peninsula\u2019s 40 wineries with cellar doors (tasting rooms) offer cheese or charcuterie, while many feature full-fledged restaurants.\r\n\r\nThe proximity of Mornington to Melbourne, Australia\u2019s gastronomic hub, the quality of the wines and the diversity of activities make the peninsula a tourist destination. Here are some highlights.\r\n\r\n\r\nTasting\r\nHeading south from Melbourne, Moorooduc Estate is one of the first wineries you\u2019ll encounter. There\u2019s no restaurant, just some of the best wines on the peninsula. Owner/winemaker Richard McIntyre established the winery in 1982, and his fascination with fermentation has extended to bread baking. A limited number of his legendary sourdough loaves are sold on weekends.\r\n\r\nNearby Yabby Lake is one of the region\u2019s biggest operations, now run by Tom Carson, who earned his winemaking stripes at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley. This subregion is one of the warmest parts of the peninsula, and the wines from Moorooduc and Yabby Lake can show a degree of opulence not often seen from other producers. The restaurant serves a limited lunch menu daily that highlights\u00ad local sourcing.\r\n\r\nDeeper into the peninsula, and higher up the region\u2019s mountain spine, don\u2019t miss tiny Eldridge Estate. There\u2019s no restaurant, but the wines are always interesting, and you can taste them on the deck that overlooks the vineyard. The PTG, owner David Lloyd\u2019s take on the Passe-Tout-Grains of Burgundy, is a gluggable blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAlso in that same Red Hill subregion, you\u2019ll find Montalto, Paringa Estate, Polperro Wines, Port Phillip Estate/Kooyong and Ten Minutes by Tractor. All produce excellent examples of the maritime-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that put Mornington on the map, and all have restaurants worthy of long lunches.\r\n\r\nA 10-minute drive to the east will bring you to Quealy Winemakers. There, you can taste local oddities like a Friulano fermented in amphorae, an ancestral-method sparkler, a cofermented blend of Sangiovese, Shiraz and Pinot Noir, or a skin-fermented Muscat ros\u00e9.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Mythical Jackalope\r\nSomehow, the North American critter best described as a jackrabbit with horns has made its way to Mornington in the form of the region\u2019s newest, most posh lodgings. Situated next to Willow Creek Vineyard, Jackalope Hotel has been lavished with numerous Australian travel awards for its 46 sumptuous \u201cdens,\u201d which feature all-inclusive minibars, private terraces and luxurious furnishings. Rates generally start around $500 per night.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nEating\r\nMany of the peninsula\u2019s dining options are at the wineries, but there are some additional spots worth checking out in the small community of Balnarring. Le Bouchon is, as you might expect, a classical French bistro. Its escargot, boeuf Bourguignon and cr\u00e8me br\u00fbl\u00e9e won\u2019t win awards for originality, but they\u2019re well prepared. If the idea of a short, almost all-French wine list doesn\u2019t thrill you, go on Tuesday or Wednesday, when the corkage fee is a reasonable $10 per bottle.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAcross the parking lot is Orita\u2019s 2, a Japanese fusion restaurant that offers an outstanding array of sushi, plus cuts of wagyu and Gippsland beef. (Gippsland is located just across the bay.) There\u2019s a small wine list, or you can BYOB on Mondays and Tuesdays for a nominal corkage fee.\r\n\r\nAt the wineries, special mention goes to Paringa Estate, where dinner is served Fridays and Saturdays (as well as Thursdays during Australian summer). Choose either the five-course tasting menu for $80, or the eight-course option for $110. Wine pairings from the property are available for an additional charge.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTen Minutes by Tractor features a more expansive wine list of 400 selections. It focuses mainly on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from around the world, which reflects owner Martin Spedding\u2019s passion for Burgundy and Burgundian grape varieties. Australian Chardonnays from Bindi, Giaconda and Oakridge share space with Coche-Dury, Comte Lafon and Roulot, any of which would pair beautifully with dishes like Skull Island king prawn or Queensland mackerel tartare.\r\n\r\nThe restaurant at Port Phillip Estate boasts sweeping vineyard views from within an architectural masterwork. Despite its modern design and expansive size, it never feels too big or impersonal. Dinner is served on Fridays and Saturdays, but it features colorful local options like Flinders Island lamb rump with candied garlic and white beans, and wallaby rump with grilled radicchio, beets and almond.\r\n\r\n\r\nPlaying\r\nMostly surrounded by ocean waters, it\u2019s no surprise that the region\u2019s beaches are a main attraction. Mount Martha offers broad, sandy expanses and rocky cliffs. Drive the Esplanade, a winding road that features ocean views and spendy homes.\r\n\r\nPortsea, at the very tip of the peninsula, is known for its surf\u2014check out the Portsea Back Beach\u2014and its recreational diving. Sea dragons and rays can be found close in, off Portsea Pier. The community is also where you can find some of Australia\u2019s most expensive homes.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe same ocean currents and winds that have shaped the region\u2019s beaches have also marked the peninsula\u2019s 20 golf courses. Most are links-style, with plenty of undulating fairways and tall-grass rough. Several courses are among Australia\u2019s best. RACV Cape Schanck and Moonah Links Golf Complex include various lodging options.\r\n\r\nRecreational golfers who overdo it (or folks who just want to decompress) will want to spend time at Peninsula Hot Springs. Natural thermal waters are used in the pools and private baths, and the staff offers various massage and spa-treatment options.