Yarra Valley wine region
Ever wonder which varietal would best compliment vegemite on toast? Probably a nice red but there’s really only one way to be sure. Travel to the Yarra Valley to find out and pay homage to the origins of Victorian winegrowing.
On the opposite end of the world from Napa, California is its thriving Aussie counterpart, the Yarra Valley, Victoria’s oldest and most visited wine region boasting international acclaim and world-class vineyards all its own. With over 3,600 acres under vine, and more than 80 wineries to explore, the area includes big name winemakers such as Chateau Yering and Domain Chandon, and several smaller, family owned vineyards.
Only one hour away from Melbourne by car, the Yarra Valley can be an excellent day trip or a pleasant overnight excursion. Set in picturesque rolling hills and surrounded by Lilydale, Coldstream, Yarra Glen, Healesville and Seville, the relatively cool climate of the Yarra region is particularly suited to the production of high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wines.
The region’s first vines were planted in 1838 at Yering Station and today the Yarra Valley is recognized as one of Australia’s chief cool-climate wine producing regions. Many of the wineries have cellar doors offering wine sales, picnic and BBQ facilities. Some of them also feature restaurants, cafes and overnight accommodations, making them complete attractions within themselves.
Yarra Valley’s assorted cellar doors encompass everything from grand architectural statements to rustic sheds hidden among the vines. The architecture here is a perfect reflection of the diversity of styles and approaches towards viticulture in this fertile region.
Although it can at times, seem hard to believe that there’s more to life than a good bottle of chardonnay, visitors to Yarra Valley will also discover art galleries, antique stores, markets and nature walks. Family attractions include a ride on the Puffing Billy, Australia’s oldest stream railway or the Healesville Sanctuary. The 70-acre Sanctuary, in the heart of the valley, is world-renowned as the one of the best places to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat.
You can burn off the calories by hiking or biking on trails throughout the Yarra Valley and nearby Dandenong Ranges or on nearby golf courses and ski trails. Or try a thrilling Zip Trek or challenging tree-top obstacle course through the rainforest. For a more encompassing view of the area, float above the Yarra Valley on a sunrise hot-air balloon flight.
For those with time and a car, the surrounding areas offer much to explore. Drive the 18-mile Mount Dandenong Tourist Road and make a stop at the William Ricketts Sanctuary. The beautiful setting is an homage to the artist and naturalist William Ricketts. His mystical sculptures merge with the foliage and express his philosophy that all people act as custodians of the natural environment. Continue the drive and you’ll arrive at the Kalorama Lookout for a view of the Warburton Ranges and Silvan Reservoir, or head off on Ridge Road to the Mount Dandenong Observatory for stunning views of the city, particularly at after sunset.
The drive northeast along the Maroondah Highway from Healesville passes through Black Spur, which is noted for its spectacular tall trees and dense forests. Past Black Spur is the small village of Marysville where natural attractions abound at this gateway to the snow resort of Lake Mountain. For the floral enthusiasts, The National Rhododendron Gardens are host to brilliantly colored blooms of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, daffodils and other seasonal varieties that make the gardens a year-round activity.