From grand producers to boutique specialists, winery tours in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula regions offer a great day in the country.
While enjoying the best restaurants and bars in Melbourne, you will undoubtedly stumble upon some delicious Australian wines. Wine producers are spread far and wide across the country, and in Melbourne we are blessed with two key regions right on our doorstep—the Yarra Valley to the east and the Mornington Peninsula to the south. Both are accessible as day trips, although excellent accommodations are available at each if you want to relax at the end of a hard day’s sipping.
Take a look eastwards from the Sky Deck at Eureka Tower in downtown Melbourne, and on a clear day you can see the Yarra Valley. Its proximity to the city has made it a favorite playground full of wine tasting, gourmet food and boutique accommodation for Melburnians seeking a quick and easy escape from the city. One of the prettiest times to go is in the fall, but the wineries and restaurants are open year-round.
From quite humble beginnings, the scale and variety of wines on offer in the Yarra Valley have seen enormous growth in recent years. Today, 85 wineries cover more than 9,000 acres under vine. Classified as a cool climate, the region’s white wine specialties include pinot gris, semillon, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. When it comes to red, the Yarra Valley is famous for pinot noir, among other offerings.
With so much to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong at any Yarra Valley winery, but here are some not to be missed:
Yering Station, Victoria’s oldest winery, also hosts a Farmers’ Market on the third Sunday of every month. Its 2004 Fortified Shiraz is highly prized. www.yering.com
Offering two brands under one roof, Innocent Bystander and Giant Steps have a sparkling new cellar door in Healesville proper to bring their terrific boutique range to town. www.innocentbystander.com.au
Rochford Wines’ comprehensive list of whites and reds shouldn’t be missed. It also hosts concerts and an outdoor cinema if the wine isn’t entertaining enough. www.rochfordwines.com.au
A relative newcomer, Sticks, offers delicious and well-priced wines. Its pinot noir is a worthy award-winner. www.sticks.com.au
Yarra Valley Winery Tours offers a range of options, including private tours. Central Business District (CBD) pick-up and drop-off, tastings at five wineries and lunch at the award-winning De Bortoli Winery are included in its daily public tour. You can add overnight accommodation and other options, too.
Australian Wine Tour Co. offers tours in groups of up to 20 people. CBD pick-up and drop-off, tastings at four wineries, lunch at Rochford Wines and a glass of Australia’s best sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon completes the day.
A Tour With Taste tailors the day to your specifications. Visit a selection of boutique wineries at your own discretion with expert guidance. Pricing varies according to itinerary.
At Balgownie Estate, enjoy luxury rooms, magnificent views and superb spa and dining options. Make your stay extra special with a hot air balloon ride over the valley at dawn. www.balgownieestate.com.au
Just minutes from the township of Healesville, Harvest Farm sits on 44 acres of property. Owned and operated by the nearby Healesville Hotel, the secluded farmhouse on the property is surrounded by a private garden of oaks, roses and rhododendrons. Breakfast is provided and dinner at the award-winning Healesville Hotel should not be missed. www.harvestfarm.com.au
Located about an hour south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a popular local getaway. Whether tourists are searching for sandy beaches for surfing or lush vineyards for wine tasting, it can all be found on the Mornington Peninsula. Golf is also a prominent pastime in the region, with more than 10 courses available. Summer is the peak time to visit, but winter can also be a great time to stroll its less-crowded beaches. Just remember to bring a jacket.
With around 50 wineries in the region to explore, you’ve got your work cut out for you, if you can call wine tasting work. Another cool climate region, again the red wine focus is firmly on pinot noir. Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot are also highly regarded. In white wines, pinot gris, chardonnay and riesling are also produced.
Ten Minutes By Tractor has three vineyards, each 10 minutes apart by tractor. An odd name perhaps, but it’s one of the region’s up and coming stars. The terrific pinot noir is best enjoyed in its stunning restaurant. www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au
Montalto produces premium olive oil along with wine. There’s extra virgin, of course, or try lemon- or basil-infused varieties. Its wine range includes riesling, pinot noir, sparkling cuvée and Shiraz. www.montalto.aom.au
Take in stunning views of vineyards leading down to the ocean at Red Hill Estate. The tasting at the cellar door is comprehensive to say the least, and there are always some bargain bins worth exploring. www.redhillestate.com.au
T’Gallant strives to create the region’s premier pinot grigio. This artisanal producer expanded output to also include pinot gris, chardonnay, viognier and pinot noir. www.tgallant.com.au
Tucked away in a valley in Red Hill, Main Ridge Estate is generally classified as one of Australia’s best estate vineyards with a small but brilliant selection of chardonnay and pinot noir. Lunch is available only on Sundays. www.mre.com.au
Built on the undulating terrain formed by ancient sand dunes, The Cups Estate has consistently produced award-winning wines. Pinot noir, rosé, merlot and Shiraz form the backbone of this estate’s offering. www.thecupsestate.com
Victoria Winery Tours offers flexibility and small groups no larger than 10 on their tours. CBD pick-up and drop-off and winery lunch.
Explore the region’s boutique wineries with Link Tours. Includes CBD pick-up and drop-off and winery lunch.
At the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula, Woodman Estate in Moorooduc provides lodging in luxury suites or more secluded lakeside chalets. Spa treatments, fine dining and a range of facilities may make it difficult to leave. www.woodmanestate.com
The Orchard Luxury B&B puts you in the heart of wine country while just a short drive from the beach. www.innhouse.com.au
Activities: Wine Tasting
Post-Fire Update The article “Tourists Needed to Fan Economic Embers” in today’s “The Age” newspaper gives an update on the Yarra Valley region and how most of it was not affected by the devastating fires earlier this month. ?page=-1 Also noted in the piece: Last night, the celebrated De Bortoli winery and restaurant (recommended in our article) won the Australian Tourism award for best tourist winery. Congratulations!