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Tuesday 13 September 2022

A new start for two Mornington Peninsula favourites

It is the start of a new era for both Mornington Peninsula wine producer Eldridge Estate and its long-time owner and vigneron David Lloyd.

Eldridge Estate, one of the Mornington Peninsula’s best-regarded vineyards, is now under the ownership of wine industry newcomers Elli and Vicki Tutungi.

Lloyd and his veterinarian wife Carol, meanwhile, have completed a move to a bush block at Dodges Ferry in Tasmania.

Lloyd reports that the Tutungis have had a love affair with the Mornington Peninsula and its wines for many years and moved in when Eldridge Estate came up for sale.

The Tutungis have engaged consultant winemaker Steve Flamsteed (formerly Giant Steps winemaker and co-owner of Salo Wines) to make their wines and continue to make premium chardonnay, pinot noir and gamay as did Lloyd.

Vicki Tutungi says: “Elli and I are not naïve enough to think it is going to be an easy journey, but are excited about the next chapter in our lives. David selected this piece of land for its special qualities in making premium wine and we intend to nurture it as he has.”

The vineyard is located on Arthurs Seat Road in Red Hill and the Tutungis will work Flamsteed ahead of their first vintage in 2023.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with a site of this kind of pedigree - I’ve had a long association with David and the wines of Eldridge Estate through the Victorian Pinot Noir Workshop - which began back in 2002," Flamsteed said.

"Vicki and Elli are an incredible force and are committed to producing the best possible wines from this amazing site."

Elli Tutungi is a cardiac anaesthetist and Vicki a former lawyer who has worked in technology development for 20 years. The couple has a home at Balnarring Beach, not far from Eldridge Estate and has taken advice from friends Steve Webber and Leanne de Bortoli from De Bortoli Yarra Valley.

Lloyd told me a year or so ago that after two bouts of cancer and the approach of his 70th birthday, he wanted to slow down and move to Tasmania.

"That desire has now become reality," he said. "I am turning 70 and did not have either the energy or financial resources to move Eldridge to a stable future in such a time of change."

Lloyd's former assistant Sara Van Agt will stay with Eldridge Estate, while Lloyd (below) will stay involved in the wine industry with a little side project.

 "My friend of over 30 years, Michael Twelftree, came up with a retirement project to keep my love of wine in a happy place," Lloyd says. 

"The project is The Odd Couple wine label, which is a couple of small batches of pinot produced each year where I choose the harvest date, make the wine and see it thru to bottling but do not have to run a vineyard or sell the wine."

The Odd Couple pinot is based on fruit from a small vineyard in the Coal River Valley, just a short drive from Doges Ferry.

"Carol and I are now happily living in Tasmania. where it is as tranquil as Red Hill was 28 years ago," Lloyd says from California, where he is enjoying a vacation.

Sounds like everyone is a winner.

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