Head for the Yarra Valley’s rolling hills for gourmet experiences, and wineries serving benchmark pinot noir and chardonnay.
Within an hours' drive from Melbourne you can explore cellar doors, enjoy a long lunch and soak up incredible views. In addition to the wining and dining, there’s an exciting choice of activities to keep everyone entertained, from the wildlife haven at Healesville Sanctuary to hot-air balloon flights over the valley.
This cool-climate region grows a variety of exciting wines, and although pinot noir and chardonnay are the reigning champs, experimental winemakers have expanded their repertoire outside of these styles. Other key drops gaining attention from the Yarra Valley are shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, plus many alternative styles.
For anyone looking to refresh their palate between wine tastings, a growing number of distilleries, breweries and cideries also welcome visitors. Add handmade cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy and other local produce to the table for a full gustatory experience. The generous choice of activities and culinary experiences are only accentuated by the sweeping green landscape and its corridors of vines.
James Halliday on the Yarra Valley
As I have acknowledged elsewhere, I am hopelessly biased when it comes to the Yarra Valley, for it is where I live and work – making wine and writing about it – and it is where I hope I will die when my time comes. It is a place of extreme beauty, of constantly changing light, of colour and of mood. It offers landscapes on a heroic scale with the same profligacy as it offers intimate vistas. Once you have seen it, you cannot help but love it.
Yet my love affair started before I set foot in it, when I tasted the first vintages of Seville Estate, Yeringberg and Mount Mary, followed soon thereafter by Yarra Yering. In the second half of the 1970s these wines opened up a new horizon; the pinot noirs, a new world.
Within a year I had traversed its length, and although I did not know it then, my fate was sealed, my life was to change direction from that of a senior partner in a major law firm specialising in corporate law to that of full-time wine writer and winemaker without (as I am fond of saying) visible means of support.
The antecedents of the Yarra Valley were (and are) impeccable, with a proud and rich history of grape-growing and winemaking stretching back to the first settlers in 1838 and reaching the height of fame in 1881. Its renaissance burst like a spring flower between 1968 and 1971, inexplicably all but stopped throughout the rest of the 1970s and flourished in an extraordinary fashion in the 1980s and, even more, in the 1990s through to 2005.
Until the 1990s, the Yarra Valley was the exclusive preserve of the small winery, most of them producing wines in the super-premium category. De Bortoli Wines of Griffith was the first large, commercial company to invest, acquiring (and renaming) Millers Chateau Yarrinya in 1987. Then in the 1990s, and in quick succession, Mildara Blass acquired Yarra Ridge (and later St Huberts via its Rothbury Estate takeover); Hardys acquired the large Hoddles Creek Vineyards and then Yarra Burn; McWilliam’s purchased Lilydale Vineyards; and Southcorp (now part of Fosters Wine Estates) followed up its acquisition of Fernhill Vineyards by taking over Coldstream Hills (which I had founded) in 1996.
|Heat Degree Days||
|Growing Season Rainfall||
|Mean January Temp||
Early March to early May