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Food, Travel, Inside Story

Best Yarra Valley Wineries 2019

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Here are our favourite Yarra Valley Wineries (in no particular order) -

 Oakridge Wines - 864 Maroondah Highway Coldstream

Oakridge Wines is a magnificent award winning winery and restaurant near Healesville on the Maroondah Highway. The property is spectacular, as you wind along the road past a superb lake up to the winery. Another great place to take "out-of-towners"! The cellar door is large and the staff super friendly. Of course the product speaks for itself!
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Oakridge Wines has been capturing the spirit of the Yarra Valley for more than three decades. Established near Seville in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Oakridge Wines began as a family company. A pioneer of the Upper Yarra Valley, Oakridge recognised the potential for making great wine on the rich, red, volcanic soils of the sub-region.  The turn of the century saw Oakridge move to its location in Coldstream, and become a part of one of Australia’s larger wine companies. In recent times, Oakridge once again returned to family ownership. 
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The class and quality is amazing, as are the views, but the ambience is friendly and relaxed! Rustic pleasure. Relax on one of the lounges and take in the sweeping views of the vineyards. Or go next door to the outstanding restaurant and enjoy top class fine dining.
In recent years Oakridge has upgraded its Cellar Door to state of the art and has been awarded Winery of the Year. We were impressed when we visited on a day when the restaurant was closed for a busy private function, yet they still were able to serve us a platter (staff going the extra mile).
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Sensational dining featuring local produce, even from their own substantial garden.
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The thing about Oakridge is that not only are the facilities top notch, but the wine itself is sensational. When I visited Pinot Palooza I enjoyed a fine Oakridge Pinot Noir that was featured in the top offerings of Australia and New Zealand. Their wines regularly win awards and not only the Pinot, Shiraz and Cabernet,  but the Chardonnay and Botrytis Riesling figure prominently.
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Oakridge foodie garden.
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A great option is to grab a platter – either a cheese platter or a chocolate platter. We grabbed both. The cheese platter is wonderful – the two weeks in a row I visited it featured Tasmanian Cheddar, local brie and a blue vein that was sensational. All served with crackers and tasty jam.  The antipasto platter is highly acclaimed and another great reason to recline in the light filled restaurant with large windows and take in that view! 

Speaking to many foodies about Melbourne, Oakridge Wines is the winery of choice for many in the Yarra Valley.

Adam the owner of Wine Compass provides a professional and enjoyable experience on his wine tours; we took a tour with Wine Compass visiting some of the bespoke wineries such as Pimpernel Vineyards, Soumah Wines and Yileena Park. Adam sources engaging bespoke experiences, tailors the itinerary for you, provides first class transport (this time in his Mercedes 4WD), collects your wine and puts it away, constantly provides water for any hydration issues, arranges decent meals for the lunch, and is all round personable.


Yarra Yering - Gruyere

In our opinion the best wine tasting experience in the Yarra Valley. You are tasting wine of the highest order and acclaimed as possibly Yarra Valley's best. The cellar door is based in the house of founder Dr Bailey Carrodus in Gruyere. Yarra Yering received a "Best Small Cellar Door 2017" award from Gourmet Traveller Wine.

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The World Loves Melbourne is always on the lookout for impressive artisan wines and Yarra Yering  in Gruyere near Healesville is a winery of distinction. It features some of the best and most iconic wines in Australia.

Dr Carrodus was a visionary who established the winery upon European styles. He was one of the pioneering winemakers who brought the Yarra Valley back to grape in the 1970s. Dr Carrodus was a perfectionist and would pour wines down the drain if they didn't meet his high standards. His wines, like his labels, rarely changed. There was Dry Red No. 1, a blend of classic Bordeaux grape varieties, and Dry Red No. 2, a Cote Rotie style blend of shiraz and viognier.

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We undertook all 3 of the tasting options, a fabulous experience; the current vintage, the museum release, and the Carrodus range. A cost to the tasting is well worth it, but refundable upon individual purchasing.

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Our favourite is the Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1.

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We also fell in love with Condaleeza the cat.

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Helen & Joey Estate - Gruyere

Helen & Joey is a revelation in the Yarra Valley and has exploded on the scene in recent years. A fun cellar door here conviviality is the name of the game.This winery is one of the first that you get to when visting the Yarra Valley from Melbourne. 

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Premium wines and a regional platter had us in a state of satiation, all enjoyed with stunning views.

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Helen & Joey logo is the mythical unicorn; and Helen & Joey claim that the wine, like Bruce the unicorn, is an enigma. We can vouch for the award winning wines.

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Pimpernel Vineyards  - 6 Hill Road Coldstream

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Pimpernel Wines is a compelling visit in Yarra Valley for its boutique feel and the sheer quality of the wines. We tasted just about every wine in the range and felt all of them were standouts. 

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Winemaker Damian Archibald took us through a sensational special barrel tasting. Even the young wines of current vintage a couple of months old showed complexity and depth. A theme was the elegance of the wines. We loved the Viognier and Chardonnay with big hits of vanilla, and the Pinot Noir (No 1 and No 2),  the Syrah, and the GSM.

Damian explained to us that Pimpernel vineyards is all about dry run viticulture; they don't irrigate in the same vein as the great wineries of Europe. This provides for greater intensity of flavour as roots have to compete for moisture.

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Pimpernel Vineyards is a family run winery inspired by the regions of Rhone and Burgundy in France. Damian is the winemaker and is often at Cellar Door; his passion and personality make for a first class Cellar Door visit.

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Damian then took us through a second tasting at Cellar Door; this time the finished product. Once again we were struck by the elegance of these wines, keeping their structure. The Cellar Door is open Friday through to Sunday, as well as Public Holidays. Or by appointment! 

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Beautiful grounds and a killer view enhance the experience at Pimpernel Vineyards.


Levantine Hill - Coldstream

Levantine Hill is a stunning destination to visit and a highlight of the region. Stylish all the way the purpose built winery restaurant and cellar door by Fender Katsalidis Architects will take your breath away.

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Helicopter pad is the best way to arrive.

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Engage in some stunning shopping.

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Premium dining with Teague Ezard at the helm taking his famous city gourmet experience to Levantine Hill. And we were the beneficiaries on a fine Melbourne day. Perfect in matching Levantine Hill acclaimed wines.

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A superb curated experience awaits for thos who like to appreciate premium offerings.

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The food captures the styles of Europe.

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Dominique Portet - Coldstream

Dominique Portet is a winery with strong French influences. Dominique Portet is a ninth generation winemaker and Ben Portet a tenth generation winemaker.

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You may think you're in Bordeaux rather than the Yarra Valley. We find Dominique Portet to be a charming rustic destination with standout wines and excellent food offerings.

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Cellar door tasting is a rewarding experience. The Rosé is highy acclaimed.

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Dominique Portet are pioneers of the cool climate wine industry.

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Soumah Wines - 16 Hexham Road, Gruyere

Soumah Wines was a magical experience in a desirable part of the Yarra Valley; the Warramate foothills. Sweeping views from the Cellar Door are inspiring. The World Loves Melbourne appreciates the Italian influence at Soumah. Walk past the olive trees and the conifers to get to the Cellar Door. Adam from Wine Compass (pictured above) leading the way.

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With the fireplace pumping and engaging Cellar Door, Soumah was a brilliant visit. It was like Northern Italy descended on Yarra Valley. 

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We note varietals here that we don't always see in Yarra Valley; such as the award winning Savarro. Soumah features styles of Northern Italy such as Pinot Grigio, Rosata (deep colour), Brachetto and Nebbiolo. Other standouts include French styles of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Viognier. Soumah has a single vineyard focus, and looks for quality over quantity.

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We were surprised by a young Cabernet that was amazing. Note the deep colour of the Rose above...

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So where to go for lunch in the Yarra Valley? Adam did well to bring us to Soumah for a superb bespoke lunch. The Italian style food was the perfect match for the Italian style wine.

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Rustic and inviting. 

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Highly recommended.


Yering Farm - St Huberts Rd

Yering Farm is another charming winery in Yarra Valley, housed in an old tin shed/barn with a few winery pets in toe. We love the character and we love the award winning wine. We sat around on the porch tasting their range of reds and whites and a sensational pink cider (dry style).

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Rustic central!

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Yileena Park - 271 Steels Road, Yarra Glen

 

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Yileena Park is another magical Yarra Valley destination with boutique wines that highlight the strengths of the Yarra Valley. A family run winery, the wine features Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Merlot. Soil conditions here are favourable for growing premium wine.

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Once again, sweeping views are magnificent.

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Cellar Door is appealing featuring Tasmanian Myrtle and granite bar, with a range of smoked produce for sale (love the Duck Ham and Stilton cheese).

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We sat down with Owner Bob Curtis for a special tasting; and imbibed the delights of the first class wine, smoked goods and the amazing views on the balcony overlooking the spectacular Yarra Valley.

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Bob pulled out the Reserve Cabernet; an elegant full flavour wine.

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Bob Curtis offers first class produce that has been authentically smoked; so delicious we had to take some products home with us. There's heat in the mustard.

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Duck ham is a highlight; full of smoky flavours.

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Rochford Wines - 878-880 Maroondah Highway Coldstream  

Rochford Wines is a stunning winery that has put in the investment and provides a memorable experience for those who visit. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to Isabella's restaurant to sample their new menu.  We received a "boutique" experience at a large winery and left highly impressed with the food philosophy, and the ambience, service and cuisine at Rochford. 

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The Yarra Valley is a favourite region of ours; because its convenient and because we've discovered some cracking wineries. Rochford is known for its premium wines, and in recent years for its huge concerts of up to 12,000. It's the only winery with a large sound shelter in the region. If you're a cellar door manager like John Bright, you get to share your favourite fine wines with rock stars and celebrities. It was enlightening to hear that some of the rock stars that visit Rochford Wines for the concerts enjoy premium wines; breaking a stereotype of them drinking just spirits. Being an ex band member myself (although not famous) I can't recall any bands drinking fine red wine in the 80's.

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Rochford holds amazing events.

When you enter Rochford you are taken by the sheer size of it all. You think "someone must have had a grand vision". The history is that Rochford Wines began in the Macedon region then moved to the Yarra Valley in 2002. This was a masterstroke. Traffic on the main road in the Macedon precinct is sporadic at the best of times; moving to the Yarra Valley was genius with high volumes of traffic along the Maroondah Highway. 

We were also impressed with the size and quality of Isabella's restaurant, surely one of the bigger restaurants in Yarra Valley.  

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Whole snapper was sensational! As were the shared plates of Lamb and Beef and Pork!

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John gave us a history of the winery and poured us award winning Rochford wines... We were taken by the 2012 Yarra Valley Syrah, as well as the Pinot and Chardonnay. 

Check out the modern look of the large restaurant and function complex at Rochford...

Rochford Wines is a premium destination in the Yarra Valley and we've been raving about our day of wining, dining and tasting.


 Coombe Farm Estate - 673-675 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream

Want to experience a bit of royalty and refinement? Then visit Coombe Farm Estate  the home of opera sensation Dame Nellie Melba. For years this beautiful estate has been hidden behind a large hedge. It has undergone a facelift and has been unveiled in a tasteful and stunning renovation that gives you a window into an iconic period in Victorian and world history.

We took a tour around the grounds the historical homestead was built by Dame Nellie Melba. It features one of Victoria's oldest pools, Charlie Chaplin even swam there. We loved the peacock chairs on the verandah and caught a glimpse of a rooftop entertaining area. Is this Melbourne's original rooftop bar? 

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Dame Nellie Melba was a bold woman for the age and promoted women's causes such as the suffragettes. She operated an "open house" where friends such as painters Heysen and Streeton would "pop in", you’ll see some of their paintings on display.

A stroll around the stunning 2.8 hectare gardens offered a plethora of highlights. William Guilefoyle, the same talented designer of the Royal Botanic Gardens, designed the Coombe Farm Estate. Some of our favourite garden delights were the the large hedge of 700 metres that envelopes the property and the captivating Japanese wisterias. The beckoning of secret garden spaces, we enjoyed our stroll amongst the croquet lawn and cypress hedges. 

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We headed inside to admire the collection in the gallery and were impressed by Dame Melba's collection of 14 Louis Vuitton bags. The estate also features a James Halliday 5-star rated Cellar Door. Definitely taste the award winning Blanc de Blanc.

After our tour we enjoyed a cellar door visit then dined at Coombe Cottage restaurant. The restaurant was top notch, full of character and lies within a restored motor house and historic clock tower. Its huge glass windows overlook the spectacular gardens. This place is dreamy. Inside the restaurant is a world of copper and wood, with large elm trees presiding outside. 

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A premium dining experience.

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Zonzo Estate - 957 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen 

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Zonzo Estate is a compelling visit in the Yarra Valley; with a striking setting of vineyards and rolling hills, an impressive farmhouse style restaurant and cellar door, and rustic rewarding cuisine. It's a worthy destination to visit from Melbourne, or from anywhere else. If you're looking for somewhere to relax and enjoy picturesque surrounds, while imbibing a decent menu and wine, then this is for you. It's bright and cheery, with a buzz of dining groups, and even weddings and hot air ballooning abound.

The World Loves Melbourne was invited to Zonzo Estate to experience a lazy lunch and enjoy rustic cuisine, notably the amazing wood-fired pizza. To be honest we enjoy this relaxed style of dining at a winery. We'd heard great things about Zonzo Estate with our friends telling us it's a great option in the Yarra Valley and that the pizza is some of the best around. There's charm in spades as you enter the grounds and cross the old train track, from which the Train Trak wines derives it's name.

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The restaurant is open and airy, with large windows taking advantage of the stunning view, and with rustic theme throughout. Enjoy a lazy meal inside or relax on the outdoor terrace. Looking for family friendly wineries? Zonzo Estate is a place you can take your children; with the lawned area a place to watch your children run around as you imbibe your meal. Or indeed run around with them. (Zonzo Estate acquired the word "zonzo" which means in Italian "to wander about or stroll around").

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All the while we were enjoying the excellent beer and wine list. Zonzo Estate has it's own excellent wines (has the label and about to experience first vintage of 45 acres of vineyards) and we enjoyed the Pinot Noir 2013 as a lighter style.

Pizza is the big drawcard with a variety of first class Italian style wood-fired pizzas with outstanding base, perfectly cooked, with quality gourmet ingredients. The Napoletana was a delight, featuring Pomodoro, buffalo mozzarella, Sicilian green olives, basil and anchovies. As the song says "It's all about that bass (base)." The World Loves Melbourne is an anchovy fan so we appreciated this nuance.

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Radicchio salad was the perfect complement to our pizza. All food was professionally presented by the kitchen team. 

A big thing for us is the attitude of the staff in a busy winery restaurant and here at Zonzo Estate we experienced professional, warm and welcoming service. As the restaurant was pumping (and it seemed that 100 people arrived at once) the staff were taking the high activity in their stride, gracious and keen to please, explaining the menu and attentive to our table. Head chef and owner Rod Micallef spoke with us while in the throes of service to a packed restaurant, calm and cheerful, proud of his food and service. The World Loves Melbourne always thinks there's something about an owner operator running a business, and the passion and care is seen at every level with hands on application.

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Dessert also hit the mark with Orange infused Panna Cotta served with a decadent Cointreau and orange syrup. 

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Zonzo Estate is a keeper; a popular Yarra Valley destination that gives the punters what they want in smart affordable cuisine (Italian style pizza a hit), excellent service and stunning Yarra Valley views. 

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Domaine Chandon - 727 Maroondah Highway Coldstream

Domaine Chandon is a premium winery with French influences. We've been visiting this winery over the last decade and enjoy the magnificence of the grounds, with its stunning views, as well as amazing winery facilities. The journey begins when you step out of the large carpark and wander through the stunning Estate.

As a family we appreciate the self tour of the winery where you can take in the winemaking process. It was an opportunity to educate the children on basic winemaking, but also impress the adults with the finer points of the méthode traditionnelle process.

 

Domaine Chandon was established by French champagne house Moët & Chandon in 1986 and is dedicated to the production of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine and premium quality, cool-climate still wines.  The Chandon Greenpoint Brasserie offers a contemporary-provincial design, and is one of the Yarra Valley’s leading food and wine destinations.

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The focus is on fresh, seasonal produce prepared with simplicity and served in an atmosphere of sophistication with panoramic vineyard views. Indulge in epicurean delights including seafood, exquisite meats and cheeses, and charcuterie style platters. Or try the main meals crafted using the finest produce, and served with wine recommendations by friendly staff.

The Chandon Greenpoint Brasserie dining experience demonstrates the wonderful rewards of good food and wine matching in a relaxed, memorable setting.

 

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Domaine Chandon is a place to recline with a Charcuterie board or platter of cheese and a glass of Pinot Noir.  Or some sparkling... The tasting fee here is refundable upon purchase.

We been able to dine here but sometimes it gets quite busy and crowded, with popularity of tour buses.


De Bortoli Wines - 58 Pinnacle Lane Dixons Creek

De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant is one of my favourite wineries to visit in the Yarra Valley. Here is a great restaurant, great cheese room and excellent picnic facilities.  The De Bortoli family is legendary when it comes to Australian wine.  

De Bortoli has an impressive fine dining restaurant serving great dishes in the Italian tradition. The restaurant overlooks sweeping views of the vineyards.

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We arrived at De Bortoli in the charming Yarra Valley to be greeted by Leanne De Bortoli (Manager of Vineyard and Restaurant) and Stephen Webber (husband and Chief Winemaker/Manager), with a glass of newly launched De Bortoli Prosecco. Is there a more agreeable place on the planet than the Yarra Valley on a sunny day? And the estate at De Bortoli is looking magnificent.

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One of my favourites is the iconic dessert wine of the nation - Noble One Riesling. Golden joy.

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De Bortoli boasts sweeping views of hills and vineyards; idyllic.

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After lunch we were taken into the Cheese Room, a place The World Loves Melbourne is mighty partial to. We noted the launch of the new Prosecco featured at the cellar door.

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The grounds are superb - grab a spot on the lawns and enjoy the kids play area...


Yering Station - 38 Melba Highway Yarra Glen

Yering Station is an amazing large winery tourism complex with plenty to offer showcasing the best of the Yarra Valley. Before you get to Cellar Door you imbibe the amazing views and facilities, and when you enter cellar door you find a world of gourmet regional delights and condiments even before you get to the wines.

As for me I'm a condiments tragic, so I always avail myself of an Aubergine chutney or two upon arrival at Yering Station. But then its onto the wines, which pitch at the premium end.  At Cellar Door you can taste the full range of the estate's award-winning wines, Barak's Bridge, Yering Station and Yarra Edge, along with the iconic Yarrabank. 

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Victoria’s first vineyard was planted at Yering Station in 1838. The Scottish-born Ryrie brothers ventured into the Yarra Valley as they moved their cattle south from Sydney. Taking up a grazing license of 43 000 acres, they named the property ‘Yering’, its Aboriginal name.

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In recent times, this vision has culminated in some exciting recognition, with the ‘International Winemaker of the Year’ at the highly coveted International Wine and Spirit Competition, London in 2004. As well as the property's induction into the Australian Tourism Awards ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2006.

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Check out the Wine Bar Restaurant with stunning architecture and amazing sweeping views. This is fine dining featuring fresh, seasonal produce.

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Yering Station also boasts an Art Galley that supports the Children's Hospital, and supports a Regional Farmer's Market on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

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 TarraWarra Estate - 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road Yarra Glen

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We visited TarraWarra Estate on a hot summers day and were impressed by the awesome views and winery facilities, and the new underground cellar door. Stand on top of the hill and imbibe the views; serenity in overdrive. This is a great place to take out of towners and people you want to impress.

The first 10 acres of vines were planted at TarraWarra in 1983 along with the Besen family's vision to produce wines of superb quality and integrity and to share them in a location of great beauty and hospitality.  The vineyard sits on 400 hectares of prime Yarra Valley farmland and some thirty years on, we are defined by this heritage and a deep sense of place. Under the watchful eye of winemaker Clare Halloran, all of TarraWarra’s wines are meticulously grown, hand picked, "vinified" and aged on the estate.

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TarraWarra Estate is best known as a producer of exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and we also make several other single block heritage varietals and estate blends. Our wines are made to express the unique terroir of the TarraWarra site, which is comprised of many individual blocks and planted with carefully selected clones, each contributing their own unique characteristics to TarraWarra wines. 

TarraWarra Estate is internationally renowned as an unforgettable wine tasting and restaurant experience in the Yarra Valley. Respect for sustainability and provenance of the estate is integral to everything they do. The estate with its native bushland and waterways is where they cultivate their grapes, make their wine, graze their cattle and grow produce for their restaurant.  The estate is the spirit of TarraWarra.

We indulged in several platters along with some of the TarraWarra Wines. We found that a couple of platters was a great way to enjoy the ambience, and the wines were superb.  The Yarra Valley remains as one of Australia's premier wine regions and their decision to up the ante on tourism some years ago is paying dividends. 

Balgownie Estate 
 
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Balgownie Estate is a magnificent property deep in the Yarra Valley with multiple attractions of day spa facilities, great accomodation and alluring Rae's Restaurant with killer views. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to imbibe the food and wine at Balgownie Estate.

Rae's Restaurant is perched on a hill with sprawling lawns and vineyards to be seen from the large windows. The menu here features approachable cuisine from chef Graham Taute, and excellent wine from Balgownie's various regional vineyards.

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Balgownie 2012 Shiraz was a compelling drop, perfect with our meal.

This is food for the casual visitor and many of the wineries cater for broad appeal. What is the point if bus loads arrive and punters can't find anything recognisable on a menu? I understand what they are trying to do here. It's about honest food using fresh ingredients, served in a stunning location, with brilliant service.

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Much of the produce is sourced locally (this is a fabulous region for produce), and Rae's has it's own veggie patch. throughout our meal Deb was extremely attentive and engaging, adding to the whole experience. Kudos also that there's a kids menu (not that our kids used it).

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It didn't take long to feel relaxed, gazing out of the windows to this view. This picture was taken before the punters descended - the place became full by about 1pm on a Saturday. 

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Balgownie Estate is well worth a visit - only an hour out of Melbourne. From my experience punters want to know where to go for a Yarra Valley meal - here is an excellent option

Down the bottom of the hill we found a few fake kangaroos, bringing some humour to the experience. I noticed several parties posing for photos with these kangaroos. We were glad to visit on a perfect day with rolling clouds and great visibility.

Balgownie Estate is a rewarding destination, including the cellar door where we purchased some of their fine product.

We are already looking forward to returning here, including to the day spa. Highly recommended.

Agree? What's your favourite?