A couple of weeks ago we decided to take a day trip with our friends to the Yarra Valley. The Yarra Valley is about an hour’s drive away from Melbourne and although it offers a wide array of produce the region is most famous for its wines.
Being a wine lover, I was really looking forward to trying some local wines and did a little bit of research beforehand. I knew we couldn’t visit each of the 50+ wineries of the region (I wish!) so I decided to narrow our itinerary to 4-5 wineries. It turned out to be a great day out and the weather (sunny but not too hot) co-operated beautifully.
Chandon, as the name suggests, was founded by ‘Moet and Chandon’. It’s a huge brand in Australia and you can pretty much buy their sparkling wines at any wine store. The Chandon estate is beautiful and overlooks vineyards, mountains and a lake. By the time we got there at 11am the place was heaving with people so we decided to skip the winery tour and to just head straight to the tasting room.
The sparkling wines we tried were nice but I couldn’t quite shake off that ‘factory feeling’ you get with mass produced wines. My favorite was probably the Sparkling Shiraz as I had never tried a sparkling red before. It was very sweet but I think it would be delicious in a sparkling sangria for example. The girl who took care of us turned out to be French as well so it was great to talk to her and get more insider’s tips. She also gave us a map which turned out to be super useful.
Rochford was probably my favorite winery in terms of tasting. All their wines were lovely, especially their dessert range. I bought a bottle of their late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and my friend bought their Muscat. We had big plans to take them to a picnic the following week but of course they only lasted a day in our house! We didn’t have lunch there but the smell wafting from the kitchen was unbelievable and the restaurant looked very busy. Rochford also offers an original Segway package which includes a wine tasting, lunch and Segway lesson. The people practicing out on the field looked pretty happy but then again, it could be the wine :)
This winery was recommended by the lovely french girl at Chandon. It’s a cute estate that of course looks very French (think of a Provence-style house in the middle of Australia). The staff was very friendly and the wines, especially the Cabernet/Merlot blend, were lovely too. Unfortunately, they had no food left by the time we arrived (2pm) so we had to cut our visit short.
Medhurst was a little oasis of calm compared to the other wineries we visited that day. The cellar door/restaurant is located on hilltop and has a nice relaxed atmosphere. We ordered a couple of their platters and both were delicious. After sampling some of their wines we enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay with our meals. I felt so comfortable there I almost didn’t want to leave…
Yering station has stunning architecture and its restaurant building, which has amazing views over the valley, is worth a trip alone. Art also plays an important part in this winery; the grounds feature some sculptures and the tasting room plays host to a rotation of exhibitions.
We tried 5 of their wines and all were good. I especially enjoyed their Pinot Noir and their Sparkling Wine (although at $30 a bottle it was a bit too pricey for me). The staff was very professional (and very serious about their products) and it was nice to be able to taste wine and look at paintings at the same time.
De Bortoli Wines
De Bortoli is as popular as Domaine Chandon. I was very much looking forward to visiting their cellar door since they also specialize in cheese. Unfortunately, by the time we got there they had just stopped their tastings (5 mins earlier!) so we couldn’t sample any of their wines. We did get to try a couple of their cheeses though which were very tasty. I guess we’ll just have to come back to try their wines another time!
After De Bortoli, we were all feeling pretty tired (trying wines – what a hard life!) so we decided to call it a day. We’ll definitely be back though. There’s so much more I’d like to explore in the Yarra Valley and there are many more wineries, breweries and local produce I’d love to try out!
To be continued…
Have you ever been on a wine tasting trail? What was the best wine tasting experience you’ve ever had?