One of the many things I love about Melbourne is the fact that there are so many places to explore in the surrounding area. Top on my list after the great ocean road (coming soon!) was a chance to do some wine tasting in the Yarra Valley.
The Yarra Valley is a renowned wine region only about an hour’s drive away from Melbourne, which makes it a perfect day trip getaway. Not just for the wine drinkers, it’s home to a number of farms, lunch spots, beautiful grounds, nature trails and spectacular scenery.
Whilst I was weighing up my options and deciding whether to stay in Melbourne or do my regional work, I realised that this could possibly be the closest I came to an Aussie farm experience!
I hadn’t left Melbourne in 2 months and with all there is to explore nearby, I was beginning to feel a bit cooped up. With my itchy feet I was like an excitable child the whole bus ride there, despite it being before 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning.
~ De Bortoli Winery
Getting around the Yarra Valley wineries
Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley can be done by car if you happen to know someone willing to be the ‘deso driver’, and you can pick and choose between many wineries. Alternatively, depending on your budget, you can hire a driver pretty easily.
Unfortunately public transport is limited once you get out of Melbourne and there don’t seem to be any buses that would take you to the right places. My fellow wine drinkers and I went with the more popular option of booking a tour including transport, food and most importantly, wine.
We chose Go West for our wine tasting tour based on their TripAdvisor reviews, though most of the tour companies are rated pretty high. Maybe it’s the wine talking?! They’re also all around the same price with ours costing $120 for the day. On Go West‘s agenda is tasting local produce at a Yarra farm, wine tasting at three different wineries, cheese tasting at a Yarra Valley dairy, lunch and then chocolate tasting at the Yarra Chocolaterie.
Yarra Farm Fresh
Likely not wanting to encourage drinking too early, our first stop was at Yarra Farm Fresh where we sampled their locally grown fruit and fresh apple and ginger juice. After a quick look around the shop, I took the opportunity to wander over to the fields and enjoy the change of scenery, which reminded me a lot of a place I haven’t seen in over a year – home!
~ Yarra Farm Fresh
De Bortoli Wines
Our first wine tasting of the day was at the family owned De Bortoli Winery Estate. They produce a wide range of wines from Prosecco to Chardonnay to Pinot Gris to Shiraz to dessert wine, all of which we got to sample. I love my white wine so I enjoyed the talk by the sommelier. I came away learning that Chardonnay is still my least favourite. Smokey red wine is not the one and dessert wine? Sure why not.
~ De Bortoli wine tasting
Yarra Valley Dairy
Next stop on the tour was at the Yarra Valley Dairy where I skirted around the handmade cheese and ate crackers with tasty chutney because, shock horror, I don’t like cheese unless it’s mild, can be disguised in a meal or is on top of pizza! I like to think the rest of the tour group were happy about this fact, all the more cheese for them and for the poor resident dog who clearly got more than his fair share daily.
~ Yarra Valley Dairy
Rochford Winery was our next stop for lunch and you guessed it, more wine tasting. I was too busy eying up what everyone had ordered for their lunch that I didn’t hear the sommelier explain the wines properly. I began with the dessert wine and found myself disappointed with another, pretty sickly, ‘Chardonnay’ until someone eventually pointed out my mistake. There’s an observation tower here offering beautiful views of the Great Dividing Ranges as well as hundreds of leafy vines to run around.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamerie
Unfortunately the Chocolaterie was poorly timed after we’d all just eaten the richest chocolate cake known to man for dessert at Rochford. None of us were feeling particularly like we needed anymore chocolate yet you know, you want to get your money’s worth. We tried a ridiculous amount of weird and not so wonderful flavours such as caramelised sesame and celery. Whilst we tried our best to indulge, it wasn’t long before a few of us escaped outside to check out the view instead.
~ View from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamerie
Coombe Yarra Valley Melba Estate
They saved the fanciest winery of them all, The Melba Estate, til last. Here we had a long talk from a very knowledgeable man, though he did spend a lot of time insisting we all use the posh toilets there. I can’t say I was too impressed after all the hype.
Considering I completely forgot we had one more winery left, the Melba Estate was a nice last surprise. After trying a range of the estate grown Coombe Farm wines, we spent the last few moments of the tour playing lawn games in the sun! We headed back to the city feeling content with our day of wine tasting in the beautiful Yarra Valley.
~ The Melba Estate
Have you been wine tasting? Where would be your wine region of choice?