The region’s cool climate wines have made a name for themselves across the world, but where is the Yarra Valley?
Of Australia’s diverse wine regions, the one most famous for chardonnay and pinot noir, is that of the Yarra Valley. It is a destination for wine lovers and foodies alike.
The Yarra Valley is located 45 minutes drive from the city of Melbourne in the south east of Australia. Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria and is the second most populated city in Australia.
This wine region is home to big name wineries such as Domain Chandon and Balgownie Wines. But it is also the location of many smaller boutique wineries and vineyards.
It’s a place where you can discover the people and locations behind the wine and local produce. It is an easy day trip from Melbourne and one that will surely leave your taste buds tingling for more.
The history of wine in the Yarra Valley
The first grape vines were planted in the Yarra Valley in 1838 by local farmers the Ryrie Brothers. They had a working cattle farm called Yering Station and planted some vines on their property.
However it wasn’t until a few decades later that the Yarra Valley made a name for itself a premium winemaking region. From 1860 to 1900 the quality of the wine was at its highest. However, production of wine in the Yarra Valley ceased in 1921due to changing land use requirements. Around this time there was also change in Australian wine production from fine table wine to heavier fortified wine. The cool climate of the Yarra Valley wasn’t suitable for making of this kind of wine.
The renewal of the Yarra Valley as a wine producing region came more than 40 years later. Due to a few pioneering winemaking and growers, the 1960’s saw wine production start up again. In the following decades big names like Moet et Chandon, established vineyards in the region. Today there are approximately 40 wineries and more than 90 vineyards in the Yarra Valley.
Visiting the Yarra Valley today
Visitors to the Yarra Valley today are spoilt for choice when it comes to quality wineries. There are many cellar doors at wineries across the region. This is where you can taste the range of wines and no doubt buy a few bottles to take home and share. Amongst the vineyards there are a lot of farming properties. The rich soils of the valley are great for growing – whether its grapes, fruit, vegetables. It is also the location of a few dairy farms, and produce such as milk, cheeses and yogurts can be bought fresh from the farm gate.
A Gourmet Tour of the Yarra Valley
Our gourmet tour of the Yarra Valley region lets you taste wines, cheese, chocolates, fruit and more. We also indulge in a gourmet winery lunch. Here are the highlights of our day tour from Melbourne.
Yarra Farm Fresh
Yarra Farm Fresh is a working fruit farm that has its own produce store. The store sells fresh strawberries from the farm and other locally grown and made products such as jams, relishes, fruit juices, fruit, vegetables and more. We start our tour with an exclusive farm gate visit and a tasting of these products.
Balgownie Estate is where we indulge in our first wine tasting session of the day. We taste wines from Balgownie’s extensive range of elegant cool climate wines from the Yarra Valley. They also have a range of wines made from the vines growing in the original Balgownie Bendigo vineyards.
On tour we visit Coldstream Dairy to taste their delicious cheeses. With views out to the farm and surrounding hills, we sample their Italian-style handmade cheeses, fresh feta and yoghurt. All products are hand made fresh on their dairy farm.
Gourmet lunch is served at Rochford Wines with views of the vineyards. For lunch on tour you can choose from four meals – each made with in-season local produce. In addition, all are served with a glass of wine and tea or coffee. After lunch, take some time to explore the Rochford gift shop, or climb the spiral staircase to enjoy the panoramic views of the vineyards.
For another wine tasting, after lunch we visit Yering Station. This winery and cellar door is on the property where Victoria’s first grape vines were planted back in 1838. Yering Station is a member of the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame and a tasting of their exceptional wine range will have your taste buds working overtime.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
For our final tour stop, we head to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. This is where you can indulge in an exclusive chocolate tasting. Afterwards browse the incredible range of handmade premium chocolates, or watch the expert chocolatiers hard at work handcrafting chocolate creations. Plus, you can grab some ice cream for the journey back to Melbourne!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Yarra Valley?
The Yarra Valley is a scenic 45 minute drive from the city centre to Melbourne’s north east.
What wines are produced in the Yarra Valley?
The region’s vineyards specialise in growing chardonnay and pinot noir varieties. The region is home to big name wineries like Yering Station, Balgownie Estate and Domaine Chandon, as well as a host of smaller boutique wineries.
Can we take a Private Tour of the Yarra Valley wine region?
Yes! If you like the sound of taking a tour to the Yarra Valley wine region, but would prefer to tailor the itinerary yourself – we can help you out. Our private tours can cater for 1 to 100 guests and can be completely arranged to meet your needs.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au