This page may contain affiliates. However, I will never recommend resources which I do not find helpful or useful to myself. For more information on what this means please see my Disclaimers and Policies page. Now lets get to enjoying some wine!
“In a bad wine year, you have to embrace it for what it is, not what it isn’t.”- Yering Farm Wines.
Snuggled into the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley are plentiful wineries. If you are wine lover in the Melbourne area, you simply have to visit. But, if wine isn’t your thing, you can also discover fruity flavoured ciders, mouth-watering gins, and microbreweries too. Or, if you are more of a foodie, there are some excellent meals to be had as well.
Drinking and driving is never okay but luckily there are other tasting options. There are wine tours from companies such as: Australian Wine Tour Co, Wine Compass, and A Day on the Vine. For more options, check out the Yarra Valley website for details. Tours will include pick up/drop off and lunch. This makes an official wine tour a great option if you only have a day. But, a downside is that they can be quite expensive! If you do decide that a wine tour is your best option, check Groupon for deals before you book! Another downside is that you won’t be able to choose which wineries you are visiting. This means if you had something you were excited for, it might not happen.
These companies have good reviews but we opted not to utilize them. If you’ve used a wine tour for the Yarra Valley please tell us all about it in the comments! We would love to hear from you.
As we were a group of four and wine sampling is typically free, we opted to travel via Uber to each of our chosen wineries. Plus, splitting the cost four ways ended up being cheaper than a wine tour! So, if you have a group of friends or if you have a few specific stops in mind then this is a great alternative to paying high costs of tours. Granted, this option may require that you spend the night in the valley (Seriously, do not drive intoxicated). So, we parked our van at the caravan park that we planned to stay in and set out on our adventure. The Yarra Valley is a great weekend getaway so you might as well spend awhile and enjoy yourself. Sadly, with Uber, prices do change so I cannot give an accurate price quote.
An important point is that Uber does take a little bit longer as the wineries are further apart. But with Uber you can pick which wineries you visit, giving you full control of your outing. If you do not have access to a vehicle at all then there is a train from Melbourne to Healesville. Check out the most current schedules here.
Finally, another option is to bike between vineyards but this requires quite a bit more work on your part. Personally, I have barely biked in the last ten years of my life so when I do it, I struggle.
Now, prepare for a voyage of indulgences.
Where to Get Your Wine On:
- Yering Farm Wines was both our first stop and our favourite. Since we were not a part of a large tour group we got a more personalized experience. While we sampled wine, we had a great conversation with the man pouring them. He recommended Four Pillars, stating it was one of his favourites. The winery itself was rustic and cozy. The surrounding grounds were lovely. I don’t even think there was a single wine we didn’t like.
- Punt Road is a short Uber away. They have recently won some awards for their Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery itself is quite modern but set on some lovely grounds.
- Next door, is Meletos & Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse. We walked over for lunch. This microbrewery offers excellent cider flights and even better pizza! We went with a cider paddle and weren’t disappointed.
- Four Pillars Gin Distillery is hands down some of the top gin I have ever tasted. However, they do charge a fee for tasting. After our tasting we had some gin flights to sample the rest of the options. Plus, I must say, I hate tonic but their Fever Tree Tonic changed my life.
- Innocent Bystander is where we decided to grab dinner. The pizzas were delectable (I know, so much pizza!). I enjoyed a glass of moscato.
- We didn’t make it to Domaine Chandon but I have heard nothing but good things.
Need a wine break? Other notable stops include:
If you are looking for a few ways to break up the alcohol here a few other options to tantalize your tastebuds. Or, to sample on your way out of the Yarra Valley.
- Yarra Valley Dairy because it’s important to have cheese with your whine…
- Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, to satisfy your sweet tooth.
“Cold Stream Trail”
Another self-touring option is the Cold Stream Trail. Here, you can revel in variety. Each of the places on this list were chosen to complement each other. Having personally visited a few of the stops on this trail, I can say with certainty this is a delightful list. Of the places that we visited, no two were alike. Each had different tastes. These locations are all relatively close to each other too. So, you could feasibly bike around too (I found a map of the trail in one of the wineries on the list, Yering Farm I believe).
The ten stops include:
- Yarra Valley Gateway Estate
- Coombe the Melba Estate
- Huberts Vineyard
- Punt Road
- Meletos & Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse
- Coombe Farm Estate Cellar Door
- Yering Farm Wines
- Yarra Valley Dairy
- Coldstream Brewery
Wine Tasting Tips:
If you have never been to a wine tasting before these tips will make you look like a pro.
- At Yering Farm Wines, the man leading our tasting advised us that he thinks it’s best to taste the wine before reading the description. He said that reading first makes you more determined to taste what its meant to be there rather than enjoying what you taste. I’ve been trying to take this advice to heart. Plus, it applies to more than just wine tasting ;).
- Most wineries will walk you through their wine making process.
- Swirl the wine in your glass a little bit and sniff it to get the full flavours. The oxygen that will get into your glass opens the aromas.
- Don’t wear white! Red wine stains are the worst.
- Hold the wine in your mouth for a little bit to truly get a sense of the flavours.
- If you hate what you’ve just tried, there are typically spittoons. Not every wine is for everyone so it’s okay to pass on a wine or pour out your sample.
- Wine tastings typically move from whites to rose to reds. Look for water jugs on the counter to rinse your glass before switching colours.
- Eat breakfast and stay hydrated. There is water available at all tasting stops.
- For gin, or any hard alcohol tasting, collect a bit of saliva in your mouth and hold the alcohol on your tongue for a bit to get the taste.
- Enjoy yourself! You are in a beautiful area and you don’t have to drive.
Where to Stay:
- Big 4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park– a typical caravan park. This is not where we stayed but where we stayed does not deserve mention.
- Healesville Hotel – they offer accommodations in the heart of Healesville. They also have a nice pub for a few more beers if you are so inclined.
- Airbnb– Check out Airbnb, especially if you are in a group.
- Lastly, there are some not so budget friendly options listed on the Yarra Valley website.
Wine Tasting Essentials:
Re-usable water bottle: Bring a water bottle with you. It gets so hot in Australia and nothing causes dehydration like mini glasses of alcohol.
Practical Shoes: Depending on how close some of the wineries are (Think Punt Road and Meletos), you might opt to walk. Or, at the very least, keep yourself stable as the day wears on.
Please do not drink and drive. Lastly, if official wine tours or Uber don’t quite suit your needs then please arrange a responsible designated driver. The drinking limit in Australia is 0.05. And I know that taking small sips of alcohol doesn’t necessarily feel like much but eventually it will add up to more than a standard drink. It can also be more difficult to keep track of how much you have had to drink with tastings. Not to mention, some wineries have such extensive sampling menus that by the time you are through, it will have added up to a standard drink.
The Yarra Valley is also where we had our first (Hopefully only) encounter with a Huntsman Spider in our van. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night.
Have you done a Yarra Valley Wine Tour? Or, have you done a self-guided tour? Tell us all about your Yarra Valley wine experiences in the comments.