Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Meet the Characters: Heidi Williams, Montalto

Heidi Williams likes to describe her parents’ winery as a “retirement project that got out of hand”. When John and Wendy Mitchell bought their vineyard in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, it was meant to help them shift into a slower gear. But instead, the family now helms one of the most esteemed wineries and restaurants in the holiday hamlet outside Melbourne, where rolling vine-covered hills slope down to the sea.

“I think that our family has always come from a place of sharing and generosity,” says Heidi, who left a law career behind to become Montalto’s Director of People, Hospitality and Community. “We do things that we like doing, and ultimately, want to share that with other people.” Montalto grew somewhat organically out of those shared passions. The cool-climate vineyards were inspired by John’s encounters with the coastal vineyards of Europe. The Piazza, where visitors graze on seasonal bites and sip estate-grown Pinot Noir, is enfolded by thriving kitchen gardens Wendy established. The family’s love of art inspired the open-air sculpture trail that winds around the scenic property. Cumulatively, it’s an experience that Heidi hopes sates more than the tastebuds.

“We like to offer people who visit our place a moment out of the ordinary,” she says. “Of course, we make wine, of course we have food, but we also offer an experience that can touch people in different ways. It isn’t just about the sensory experience you might have when you’re eating or drinking. It’s about nourishing the whole person, really.”

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