Yarra Valley Wine Tours
The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine region, and one of the world’s finest cool-climate wine areas.
While wine is the area’s centerpiece, it also offers a range of other attractions including art galleries, gourmet eateries, markets, nature walks, and the famous Healesville Nature Sanctuary.
Yarra Valley Wines
Chardonnay is the most popular grape grown in the Yarra, and it is utilized in the production of still and sparkling white varieties. The area is also renown for its pinot noirs, mellow shirazes and cabernet sauvignons, and elegant gewurztraminers, marsannes, and sauvignon blancs.
Yarra Valley Wineries
Many of Australia’s largest wineries have vineyards based in the Yarra Valley, but the area also offers some smaller family-owned cellars. The following five wineries are just a taste of what the Yarra has to offer.
Yering Farm Wines
St. Huberts Road, Yering
Yering Farm Vineyard is a small family-owned winery, which has earned acclaim for its pinot noirs, merlots, and chardonnays. The cellar door is a revamped hay shed offering amazing views of the valley below. Tastings cost a small fee, but they include platters created from local produce.
“Green Point,” Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
Domaine Chandon was established by French champagne giant Moet & Chandon to create high quality sparkling and still wines with Australian characteristics. The winery conducts free informative and entertaining tours, before leading visitors on to the cellar door. Here tourists can enjoy a complimentary seasonal platter when they purchase a glass of wine.
Bianchet Winery and Bistro
187 Victoria Road, Lilydale
Bianchet Wines is one of the oldest boutique vineyards in the area, with some vines dating back to the 1970s. Bianchet Wines is very family friendly, and serves excellent coffee and food in addition to their stellar wine range. Wine buffs should make sure they sample the verduzzo, made from an Italian grape that is uncommon in Australia.
Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery
145 Manuka Road, Panton Hill
Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery is a small family vineyard, offering a wide range of wines and old-fashioned hospitality. They produce reds, whites, sweet and dry wines, and sparkling and fortified varieties. On cold days, visitors enjoy warming themselves in front of the fire, and in summer the Mediterranean courtyard is very popular. But there’s more to this winery than wine. Pantons also creates delicious gourmet platters and handcrafted jewelry, and offers cooking classes and wine tours.
St. Huberts Vineyard
Corner Maroondah Highway and St Huberts Road, Coldstream
St Huberts Vineyard is one of the oldest in the region, dating back to 1862. The cellar door offers some wonderful tasting experiences, including the unusual rousanne, and the Flagship Cabernet, a wine made from some of the valley’s oldest vines.
Lying less than an hour from Melbourne’s central business district, the Yarra Valley is easily accessible by car. Drivers should take the Eastern Freeway from Melbourne to the end, then turn right into Springvale Road, and then left onto the Maroondah Highway. The highway leads to Lilydale, the gateway to the Yarra.
Travelers without access to a car can take the Metlink train from Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station. The train takes around one hour to reach Lilydale. Tourists can then board a connecting bus to Yarra Glen, Healesville, or Warbuton. The cost of these buses is generally included in the train ticket price.
A number of tour companies offer personal and group coach tours of the region. Yarra Valley Winery Tours and Evergreen Winery Tours are a couple of local organizations that know the area and all the best wineries to visit.
Yarra Valley Accommodations
The Yarra Valley caters for all accommodation needs, from budget accommodation to something more lavish. The Black Spur Motel and Caravan Park offers affordable camping and caravan sites, and park cabins. The park also features plenty of family-friendly activities, such as a playground, barbeques, and a mini golf course.
The Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa and York on Lilydale provide a little more luxury. Of course travelers will pay a little more for the privilege, but the spas and pools make it worthwhile.
February – The Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival (not held in 2010 or 2011) is thought to be the largest wine festival in the southern hemisphere. Thousands of visitors visit the Yarra over this weekend to enjoy the live music, gourmet food, and of course, local wines.
June – The Shortest Lunch is a moving feast which celebrates the Winter Solstice. The annual event is run by the Yarra Valley’s small wineries, which serve entree-size meals to encourage guests to visit many cellars. Many wineries also have live music to entertain diners.
Second weekend in October – Shedfest is inspired by the sheds all wineries have housing crushers, barrels, tractors, and other equipment vital to wine production. On the weekend of Shedfest, fifteen wineries along the Warburton Highway open their sheds for tourists to enjoy good food, wine, live music, and other entertainment. A touring bus departs from Lilydale during the festival to help visitors leave the car at home.