Following the sale of their acclaimed Kooyong vineyards in 2004 Chris, Gail and Mike Aylward set themselves up again as Ocean Eight and began garnering plaudits for the wines of their new venture. Chris, son of Mike and Gail, is head winemaker here and a highly successful one too, having won Australia's prestigious Young Gun winemaker award for 2011.
Established at the family home at Shoreham, further south than Kooyong and on the cooler side of the peninsula, the winery is state of the art and built into a slope so that everything can be moved by gravity. The Mornington Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by water and has been described as an 'extreme maritime' climate, and it is certainly cooler than many Australian wine-producing regions. Ocean Eight are in a position to make the most of the temperate climate and they produce crisp, pure examples of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris, with a little sparkling wine too when conditions are perfect.
Before beginning at Ocean Eight, Mike Aylward travelled extensively in Burgundy and Alsace to learn as much as he could about pinot noir and chardonnay. The 17 hectares of vines under his care produce wines that have been likened to some of the great wines of these more venerable old world areas, with a precision and freshness that is not often associated with Australia. The 'Verve' chardonnay is a fine expression of this purity, its name reflecting the raciness of its acidity. The name Ocean Eight is, we understand, taken from the eighth hole on the National Golf Club course at Cape Schenk on the southernmost tip of the peninsula, a personal favourite of the winemaker! Whatever the derivation, the wines are among the best of their kind to come out of Australia.