While visiting my sister in Melbourne, I was excited to head out of town for a night and explore the famous Yarra Valley. As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m very interested in drinking wine, and I’m always keen to try new varietals and regions.
If you’ve never heard of the Yarra Valley before, it’s a wine region located about 90kms outside of Melbourne. The region is famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, my two favourite wine varietals, so I couldn’t wait to explore.
Getting to the Yarra Valley
There are a couple of ways to get to the Yarra Valley. The easiest would be to drive, as it’s an easy one hour drive from the city. But if you don’t want to miss out on tasting the wine, you could always join a tour. My sister was the designated driver for the day, so I could taste freely. Once you’re there, it’s really easy to navigate. We used Google Maps to direct us and each farm we visited was only a couple of minutes away from the last.
Where to taste wine in the Yarra Valley
I’d already seen some of the more famous wine farms, so I wanted to try a couple of less touristy spots. It was the perfect time of year to visit the area, and the trees were on fire with bright red and yellow leaves. Chanon and Yarra Yering are obvious choices, but very busy in the peak season over the Christmas/New Year period.
We visited Punt Road Wines, Oakridge Wines, TarraWarra and Four Pillars Distillery, where we found some very special gin. Wine tastings are generally a couple of dollars per person, but they are waived if you buy a bottle of wine to take home. All of the farms are just so beautiful at this time of year, and I was in my Chardonnay/Pinot Noir element.
The real highlight for me though, was at Four Pillars, where we chose to sit down to a gin and tonic tasting. For $10 per person, we tasted three absolutely spectacular gins, paired with three different tonic waters and flavour infusions. If you’re even slightly into gin, definitely don’t miss this special spot.
Punt Road Wines
10 St Huberts Road, Coldstream
+61 3 9739 0666
864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
+61 3 9738 9900
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen
+61 3 5962 3311
Four Pillars Distillery
2a Lilydale Road, Healesville
+61 3 5962 2791
Where to eat in the Yarra Valley
We went for a cheese tasting at the Yarra Valley Dairy and then sat down to an indulgent cheese platter overlooking picturesque paddocks. Cheese tastings are $3 per person and the cheese platter costs $35 and feeds two. Although we had been planning pizza for lunch at Zonzo Estate (which everyone recommends), we were so full after our cheese platter that we decided to carry on wine tasting instead. At dinner time, we dined at our adorable cottage, which you can read about below.
Yarra Valley Dairy
70 – 80 McMeikans Road, Yering
+61 3 9739 0023
957 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road
Where to stay in the Yarra Valley
Accommodation in the Yarra Valley is not cheap, and for South Africans it can be downright prohibitively expensive. I really wanted to spend the night somewhere warm and with a cottage feel, and we ended up The Burrow at Wombat Bend – an adorable cottage set within an incredible wildlife sanctuary. You can read all about it here.
The Burrow at Wombat Bend
200 Beachs Lane, Dixons Creek
+61 3 5965 2338
I never feel like 24 hours is enough to adequately explore everything on offer in any wine region, but I really enjoyed our little stay in this beautiful part of Victoria. If you’re planning a short visit yourself, I think my itinerary will give you enough of a taste for the Yarra to make sure you spend more time there on your next visit.