The other weekend to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, Ash and I went on a winery tour of the Yarra Valley (those who follow me on Instagram would have seen some photos of the day!). We looked at several companies, but ended up decided to go with Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours. We had been before with the same company the previous year, and chose them again as they were the only company we found that offered a lot more variety than just wine tasting, and we’d also had a really good time with them last time! Excellent service by them up front, when Ash called up to book and advised we had been the year before, they asked us to send through which wineries we’d been to last time so they could take us to a couple of different ones!
After being picked up in the city, we started out on the 45 minute drive to the Yarra Valley wine region, about 50km east of Melbourne. On the way, our guide Christian explained to us a bit of the history of winemaking in the Yarra Valley. It’s the oldest wine growing region in Victoria, with the first vines being planted back in the 1830’s!
At 10am, we arrived at our first stop, Yering Station, a little unsure if it was perhaps a bit early to start drinking wine! We soon got into the swing of things though! Yering Station is actually the oldest vineyard in the YarraValley, with the first vines being planted in 1838. The cellar door has been established in the old winery building, which was built way back in 1859.
Our next stop was to the Yarra Valley Dairy. They specialise in soft cheeses, made from both cow and goat milk. The cow’s milk is sourced from local farms in the YarraValley and the goat’s milk is delivered to them from Gippsland in eastern Victoria, and all cheeses are made at their factory on site. We got to taste a selection of cheeses – the flavoured curds are to die for! They also have a quaint little café on site, with beautiful country views across the ranges.
Back into the minibus with our cheeses stashed in the onboard fridge, we continued on to the biggest winery in the Yarra Valley (and probably the one with the best view!) – Domaine Chandon.
Chandon specialise in sparkling wines, though they do also make a small selection of still wines. We had a bit of a different type of tasting here, rather than lining up at the bar with the hundreds of other people there (it’s always super busy at the cellar door there), we were escorted through to the Riddling Hall. It is a large dimly lit and cool room, shaped like a small aircraft hangar, and lined on every conceivable surface with thousands of gleaming wine bottles.
Once we had enjoyed our wine and cheese and crackers, we were also able to go through and tour their winemaking facilities. Christian guided us through the winemaking process; it was a really interesting insight into the many steps that have to go into making sparkling wine. They also had an old antique grape press that used to be used back when the winery was first established.
The next stop was to one of the other large wineries in the YarraValley region, Rochford Wines. This large estate regularly holds concerts and other events including A Day on the Green. We went in for some wine tasting into a room that we dubbed “WineSchool” due to the long table setup! Those who know me, know that I am not really a red wine drinker and usually opt for white, but here I found a red that I enjoyed so much that I actually bought a bottle! It was a delicious pinot noir from 2004, but unfortunately there were only a few cases of it left so it’s unlikely that I’ll find another bottle of it.
We then had a delicious lunch to soak up all the wine we had been consuming! Rochford’s restaurant had just changed their menu, so it was good to have some different choices from the meals that we had there the previous year. I had a lamb risotto, made with super tender local lamb – it was just melt in the mouth. Ash had a braised wagyu beef cheek with polenta and red wine jus, which was also very tasty.
Next, to break up the wine tasting a bit after lunch, we were off to the White Rabbit Brewery. The bartender showed us the various hops, grains and spices that go into making each brew which was really interesting – I’ve never really put much thought into what actually goes in to the beer I love to drink! We tasted a range of ciders and beers, and then sat down to have a pint in the sunshine.
The last winery of the day was YileenaPark, a small boutique winery that only produces limited runs of its wines. It’s a family owned vineyard, and produces mainly red wines, as well as a few whites and some fortified wines. We got the chance to chat to one of the owners, who told us about how they had lost some vines in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, with the fires coming within 1.5m of the house where the cellar door is.
With the minibus now rattling with the many bottles of wine our group had purchased, we made one last stop before heading back to Melbourne – the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. The weather had started to cool down a bit by this stage so we opted out of ice cream, but that definitely didn’t stop us from getting some of the lovely gourmet chocolates that they make on site!
All in all, it was a fantastic day, and we certainly ended up with some gorgeous wines, cheese and chocolate.
What tours do you take in your home town?
*Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post, nor did I receive any discount or freebies for reviewing them – they actually didn’t even know that I’d be writing a blog post! All opinions are my own.