Anyone for a Horseback Winery Tour?

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By: Joel Cohen

Anyone for Horseback?

Many of you will read the title above and think to yourselves is that actually possible? Can I get on a horse and visit wineries while tasting the produce along the way? Well thanks to Alisha and the team at Peninsula Horseback Winery Tours yes you can, and yes we did.

Nestled off Shands Road in the Main Ridge area of the Mornington Peninsula lies a collection of impressive paddocks and stables. On arrival the SKN group would have been quite a sight to the staff as many of us were already clad in a version of horse riding gear.  This had nothing to do with our ability however, with only one person out of 11 having any real experience, not-withstanding another comment from a keen participant that apparently could ride a donkey.

Alesha, the owner of Peninsula Horseback Winery Tours, was obviously experienced in dealing with a wide range of groups and knowing her horses intimately she was able to allocate horse to participant with ease. She waited for our group members to reveal to her their ability and attitude then swiftly matched them to a horse with exactly the opposite characteristics!

Geared up with jackets and helmets we were taken to an open area to mount our horses. It was obvious that the staff loved horses as they could easily recognise each horse by sight and knew their personalities well. Their calm and knowledgeable attitude made a great start to the experience and within a few minutes we were out the gate, on horseback and onto our first winery.

Main Ridge is certainly a beautiful spot and being in the open air on the back of a horse is a great way to enjoy it. Walking pace suited most of us well but after a while there was a curiosity in taking it a little faster. The word trot was mentioned and with the support of the staff the group prepared themselves to go up a gear.

Horseback and scenery

It sounded easy to trot, and perhaps it should be, but I certainly found this gear change harder than expected. While the horses were at walking pace I was having delusions of grandeur about how I might break from the group and show off my non-existent but brilliant horse riding skills. The Man from Snowy River flashed through my mind and the lead character didn’t seem that different to me. Then with a quick movement we all found ourselves trotting and I found myself using 100% concentration to make sure I stayed on. It was a lot of fun but once the staff noticed a few other participants having some difficultly they slowed the group back down to a walk.

 

About 45 minutes later we made it to our first winery; T’Gallant. Off the horses and all inside to taste some of this wineries impressively fermented fruit juices. There was live music playing, a relaxed ambience and a wide variety of people from couples to families, even a Hen’s party, enjoying their afternoon. One member of our group spent a lot of his time posing with members of the Hen’s party while referring to himself as Bruce Money – This is not his real name but surprisingly it went down well and seemed to enhance the overall festivities. Nothing like fermented fruit juice to get the day going.

We were given the option to move on to the next winery or relax and have something to eat, perhaps some more to drink, and enjoy the winery we were at. We went for the second option which meant that when we were finished at T’Gallant it was back on the horses and straight to the stables.

After an hour or so at the winery we were back on horseback and heading home. I think it actually became easier to ride after a couple of drinks and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey back. About three hours after departure we dismounted and tied up our horses, thanked Alisha and the friendly staff and then were kindly dropped off at Noel’s Gallery, a Red Hill Bar and Restaurant, for a few more beverages.

Peninsula Horseback Winery Tours is located at 356 Shands Rd, Main Ridge, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. To book call (03) 5989 6119 or email info@horsebackwinerytours.com.au

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