First doesn’t always mean best – but perhaps that’s not entirely true in the case of the Yarra Valley. Victoria’s first wine region was established more than 170 years ago and now houses some of the country’s most lauded producers. With history comes experience and the winemakers of this region know their stuff when it comes to cool-climate varietals.
Medhurst is a family-owned winery set in the shadow of the Warramate Ranges and overlooking the Yarra Valley. The winery aims to produce wines that are a reflection of place and season, using gentle winemaking techniques to allow fruit purity to shine through in their cool-climate, estate-grown styles. The recently refurbished cellar door and cafe offer stunning views over the vineyards and mountains. With both indoor and outdoor seating, this space provides a perfect spot to relax with a glass of wine and a seasonal menu prepared from homegrown and locally sourced produce.
Rob Dolan Wines
The Yarra Valley truly starts at Rob Dolan Wines. The winery grounds are situated at the gateway to the region – only 40 minutes from the hustle of Melbourne’s CBD. On arrival, guests can expect a warm welcome from resident host Merlot, the loveable labrador. The cellar door staff – or “Wine Specialists” – are on-hand for seated tastings on the patio, where you can enjoy the sunshine (or keep cosy under heating in winter) and graze on a selection of local produce. The team creates a friendly and casual atmosphere, with highly personalised experiences to cater for different palates and knowledge levels.
Since the first planting of vines in 1838, Yering Station has proudly been at the heart of the Victorian wine industry. Renowned for producing world-class cool-climate wines from long-standing vineyards, a trip to Yering Station offers visitors a historically immersive experience. The cellar door is housed in the original winery building from 1859 and also features a stunning restaurant, all overlooking the winery grounds. The Yering Station restaurant heroes local produce with its new two- or three-course menu, which showcases a selection of the season’s best.
With stunning scenery, renowned winemakers and plenty of local artisanal produce, these cellar doors deserve a spot on your hit list, so be sure to book ahead. And if you're unable to get here any time soon, seek out their exceptional wines for a taste of the region at home.
The Medhurst cellar door.
Winemaker Simon Steele describes the region’s wines as subtle yet powerful, with poised and lively palates. “All our wines are made from estate-grown fruit with a dedication to quality, and our signature rosé is recognised as one of the best in Australia,” he says. Apart from their widely acclaimed rosé, Simon is especially proud of their new-release chardonnay and pinot noir. “We whole-bunch press the chardonnay juice before transferring it with full solids to French oak – 30 per cent malolactic fermentation ensures an enhanced and complex wine,” he says. “The winemaking emphasis on our pinot noir was subtlety, essential to retaining the purity of our exceptional fruit.”
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Guests enjoy the view over the vineyards at the Rob Dolan cellar door.
True to the region, Rob Dolan excels in its production of classic cool-climate varieties, but it also champions a refined style of cabernet sauvignon. “[Cabernet] is by far the most underrated variety in the area,” explains owner and winemaker Rob Dolan. “While we are a cool region, temperatures are creeping up every year, and the climate has become very well suited to cabernet.” Another unique offering at the winery emerged when Rob tasked his team with devising “the ultimate pizza wine” – achieved by blending sangiovese, tempranillo, grenache, barbera and shiraz. Rob describes the Black Label Four + One as having “the perfect mouthfeel and balance, integrating all the varietals to work seamlessly together”.
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A birds-eye view of the Yering Station grounds.
Yering Station is one of the country’s premier producers of cool-climate wines, and a trip here wouldn’t be complete without sampling the brand’s exceptional pinot noir. The latest Yering Station Pinot Noir release is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, produced from the exceptional 2018 vintage. The winery's premium Reserve label is also available for tasting at the cellar door. “Our Reserves are produced with our best parcels in our best years – outstanding reflections of time, place and effort,” says winemaker and CEO, Darren Rathbone. Guests at the cellar door can partake in a guided tasting with staff, or book for a private experience in the Scarlett room, complete with a platter of local cheese. A new outdoor bar also offers wine and casual food to enjoy around the grounds.
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Discover the Yarra Valley in our essential guide.
*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: Wine Australia