While we all know that comparisons are odious - it's pretty hard not to compare wine regions if you come from one and are visiting another! As locals to the Yarra Valley we know we can't help but make comparisons when we visit another wine growing region as we are used to our cellar door experiences here in the Yarra Valley and styles of wine produced here, in one of Australia's leading cool climate wine growing regions. So when Stacey and Cory contacted us for a wine tour and we established they live near Gawler, close to the Barossa Valley and were looking forward to tasting our Yarra Valley wines, we knew we were going to have to pull out all the stops! The Barossa is generally speaking a warmer clime famous for its full bodied reds and impressive châteaux, tho of course its neighbouring Eden Valley (which is officially part of the Barossa) is a cool climate wine region - so the pressure was on!!
Joan collected the pair from their accommodation in Healesville which meant we could spend a nice full day taking them to a good number of our wineries, for a good many tastings, rather than spending too much time in the tour van on the road travelling to get here. And we thought, to pack a punch, we'd take them first to Yering Station for a tasting and a walk around the grounds and buildings. Yering has a terrific wine history, dating back to 1838, when the Ryrie brothers settled in the Yarra Valley from Scotland and planted Victoria’s first vineyard on this site, naming it Yering Station, from the area's Aboriginal name. Stacey and Cory enjoyed their wine tasting in the cellar door which was once the original winery building, built circa 1859. The grounds at Yering are spectacular, with Chateau Yering Hotel next door (now a 5 star country house hotel with a fabulous history) and the stylish building that houses the stunning restaurant, with magnificent views out to the Great Dividing Range. Water features, rolling lawns, amazing sculptures (by the phenomenal Maria Coyle, Daylesford sculptor) - you could easily spend a day at Yering, enjoying the art in its cellar door (cum art gallery), enjoying a bite to eat in Matt's Bar, on the upper level of the cellar door, feasting on rustic produce, cheese platters or house-made pastries and sweets, browsing the gourmet regional produce for sale in the shop and on the 3rd Sunday of the month, enjoying the monthly Yarra Valley Regional Food Group's market held in the old historic barn.
After Yering's wines it was time to introduce the pair to some of the Yarra Valley's finest cider and beer, so we headed to Meletos where they loved the concept of food, wine, cider and beer all under the one roof. Once again, the historic buildings were as popular as the tastings as Meletos is the realisation of another tremendous vision by Steve and Vonnie Fraser (the masterminds behind neighbouring properties Stones of the Yarra Valley and The Stables) - they took an abandoned collection of century-old farm buildings, and created Meletos - a relaxed dining space shared with the adjacent Napoleone cidery and brewery, stunning shop The Providore, full of artisan produce, and the amazing rustic but high-end accommodation wing The Farmhouse. The tasting paddles are a great way for you to sample a bit of everything boutique producers/brewers Napoleone make, as you get to choose which four ciders and beers you want on your paddle (see Stacey and Cory in the phot).
It often amuses people on tour with us when we pile back into the tour van and drive back out onto St Huberts Road and two seconds later pull into the driveway at St Huberts winery for our next tasting, but that's how close together some of our fabulous wineries and cellar doors are!! Interestingly, St Huberts vineyard was also originally part of the vast Yering Station estate, and in 1907 portions of Chateau Yering, what's now St Huberts estate and Green Point estate (now Domaine Chandon) were sold off. During their tasting Stacey and Cory particularly loved their Pinot Noir and enjoyed comparing their reds to the Barossa reds. Not that we're in any way saying the the Yarra Valley won the contest, but...let's just say we have a feeling an online order will be placed shortly!
Speaking of Chandon, we couldn't show off our amazingly diverse region to visitors from arch rival (the Barossa) without some sparkling, so a visit to Moet & Chandon's Australian 'house' Domaine Chandon was our next port of call. Impressive for so many reasons, from its heritage (being part of Yering's once huge property in the 1800s) to the stunning colours of the maple leaves on the tree-lined driveway, as well as the impressive huge riddling hall that houses 72,000 (yes you read that correctly) bottles of wine! Stacey and Cory were suitably amazed by Chandon's imposing French style architecture, French style sparkling (made using the Methode Traditionelle) and loved their sparkling tasting, the winery's grounds and of course their infamous staggering views.
After tasting all this (wine, beer, cider and and sparkling already), it was definitely time for lunch so off they set winding up the road to Soumah of the Yarra Valley, perched high upon a hill for a rather splendid wine tasting and two-course lunch. Cory was amazed that even he couldn’t finish his great Tagliatelle al ragu d'anatra (for you heathens out there, that's duck ragu cooked with tomato, herbs and wine)!
After their sumptuous lunch Joan managed to fit in a quick visit to the Yarra Valley's iconic winery Coldstream Hills on Maddens Lane, originally owned by Australia's much loved wine reviewer James Halliday and to this day, still much acclaimed and revered, being on such great terroir. Stacey and Cory of course, given their Barossa heritage, went straight for the reds on tasting, before Joan pointed the bus in the direction of Healesville where she thought she'd show them a couple of 'in-town' wineries and cellar doors.
And what a highlight of the day their visit to Giant Steps turned out to be...the winery was buzzing, and we (accidentally) managed a private wine tasting in the Barrel Room and were lucky enough to be given an impromptu look around the behind the scenes activity at the winery and managed a talk to one of the wine makers. It was fascinating and informative and Stacey and Cory so loved the wine and the whole experience of meeting the maker that they will be ordering some Giant Steps wine online when they get back home.
We finished off their day's touring with a wine tasting at Innocent Bystander knowing they would be impressed and intrigued with the wine being poured 'on tap' like draught bitter!
Joan dropped a very happy, contented pair back to their accommodation at 5pm after a day filled with great tastings at memorable venues and it was lovely leaving them hearing they would love to return to the Yarra Valley for another tour one day.
That's the special thing about living in a wine region as diverse and jam-packed as ours; our guests often leave wishing they had another day or two with us as we drive past so many farm gates and cellar doors that we know they would love to visit - they just need to allow more time next time!!
If you would like to experience the Yarra Valley & Dandenong Ranges on a private tour such as this one, give us a call on 03 5962 5940 or email us via this website or better still - use our online questionnaire so we can gather the information we need from you to put a quote together for you - because remember, all our tours are bespoke, so we tailor make them according to your specific likes.