Melbourne is a fantastic city for wine lovers. From multi-award winning restaurants featuring talented sommeliers, to a lively wine bar scene and a wealth of tasting rooms, it’s got pretty much all you need for a good Australian oenological adventure.
However, for many of us, simply tasting the wine which comes from a specific region isn’t quite enough. While drinking wine, we get to experience the flavours and aromas that have been carefully encouraged out of the grapes, but sitting in a bar - no matter how lovely it is - can’t match the experience of getting out there and visiting a top quality winery.
When you go to a place where your favourite wines are produced, you get to encounter all those other, less obvious ingredients that go into a great wine: the land itself, the passion and hard work that the vintners put in, the very atmosphere that makes great wines so special.
Not far from Melbourne is the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s most famed and prestigious wine regions. With a history that stretches back to the 1830s, it’s home to some of the country’s most famous and well-established wineries - many of which will welcome you in, give you a tour, and offer the chance to taste and buy their wares while having a chat with the people who make them.
Here’s our brief and far-from-exhaustive guide to the best Yarra Valley wineries to visit.
If you want to get an idea of the history and majesty of this wine region, make sure you take the time to visit Domaine Chandon in Coldstream.
This is a huge and imposing winery, with a massive selection of fine wines for sale. Grand and eccentric, it’s the perfect introduction to this beautiful, green part of the country. Their tour route is open to the public every day from 10.30am-4.30pm for self-guided tours mapping the winemaking process. Also head down to the impressive tasting room, where a gorgeous array of red, white and sparkling wines await.
After the vast size and grandiosity of Domaine Chandon, you’ll want to pay a visit to something a little smaller and considerably more rustic. Soumah is a charming little place, somewhat difficult to find but well worth the effort. Here, the winemakers specialise in northern Italian grapes which grow fantastically in the cool climate, and pick up loads of the best features of the beautiful landscape the winery is situated in.
The staff will offer you a fantastic array of cheeses to pair with their crisp, acidic white wines, and there’s no doubt you won’t be leaving empty-handed.
For a great food and wine experience, don’t pass up the chance to visit Rochford. This winery may be relatively new, but it produces some of the best wines in the Yarra Valley, due to the quality of its vineyards such as the Isabella Vineyard, which has picked up plenty of awards in recent years.
The wine may be the reason people visit Rochford, but they stay for the restaurant which produces beautiful, elegant dishes inspired by and made from local ingredients. Wagyu steaks sit alongside fresh, delicately prepared seafood creations, and they’re all washed down with the winery’s superb Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay wines.
Image by Pieces of Victoria
Coombe Farm Estate
For those wanting to experience a bit of glamour, head to Coombe Farm Estate. This was the home of world famous opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, and features antiquated decor and swimming pools (once enjoyed by none other than Charlie Chaplin). The estate has an impressive art collection and sculpted gardens, and you can wander around taking in the treasures before heading down to the tasting rooms, where you’ll find some seriously good wines.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the main attractions, but the estate also produces some highly characterful Pinot Gris and Merlot, too. The gorgeous brick restaurant is a foodie’s paradise - you won’t want to leave!
Image by Coombe Yarra Valley
Ask any resident of Melbourne which winery they’d recommend you visit, and nine out of ten of them would jump at the chance to suggest Innocent Bystander. At the weekends, this place is really pumping - it bursts with life and effortless cool, and this is reflected in their the funky industrial-chic architecture, and of course - those amazing wines. All their wines are on tap and a great selection of woodfired pizzas, paellas and share boards.
Innocent Bystander Moscato is the star of the show here, those bright, fun flavours and that sunny, easy drinking body sum up everything special about this winery.
Okay, so we've got the wineries to visit in Yarra Valley covered, now we need to figure out what wines you should sip on once you visit... put your palate to the test and discover wines that you will love! Take our quiz below to find out your top 3 wine types.