- Dec, 06 2016
Yarra Valley Wine Tour
With 86 cellar doors and counting set within this picturesque landscape of big blue skies and gently rolling hills, where on earth do you start? Even for most of us wine loving women, 86 cellar doors equals a very big wine headache.
To help you with the decision making, and to ensure you make the most of your time in this gorgeous part of Australia, here are five of our favourite Yarra Valley cellar doors for the ultimate wine tasting experience!
Our number one tip? Don’t forget to tell them you’re a fabulous lady when you visit!
Our 5 Favourite Yarra Valley Cellar Doors To Visit
82 Wills Rd, DIXONS CREEK, Victoria 3775 Open: Six days a week (closed Tuesdays) 11.00 – 5.00pm www.fergussonwinery.com.au
This gorgeous Yarra Valley vineyard was first planted by the Fergusson Brothers, Peter and Michael in 1968.
But today, the estate is managed by the truly fabulous Louise Fergusson! And her sons oversee the growing and wine making processes from their 40+ year old vines.
Not only does Louise Fergusson run the wine business, but she’s also a graduate of the prestigious La Varrene in Paris and her outstanding cookery saw her take home a gold medal at Europe’s Culinary Olympics.
No wonder the Fergusson Restaurant is a destination in itself! Overlooking the picturesque vineyard the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day except Tuesdays.
With an emphasis on classic French varieties, Fergusson produce a good range from sparklings through to a muscat.
Starting with a glass of Miss Sapphire NV is a must – as it may be the only bubbly in Australia named after a blue staffy dog!
Then move onto their Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay (yum) before hitting the reds. The Louise Pinot Noir is a must try, and then don’t miss the Jeremy Shiraz and two different offering of Cabernet Sauvignons before a Muscat or Moscato for a sweet finish.
Lot 50 Oliver’s Rd, McLaren Vale Open: Mon – Sun : 10:30am–5:00pm.
Tokar Estate has one of the most sensational views of the Yarra Valley in the whole region, plus wines so delicious that they won the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the 2015 Yarra Valley wine show.
The best Pinot in the Yarra? That is NO easy feat for a region known for Pinophiles!
A gorgeous, mid-range onsite restaurant makes for the perfect lunch stop. But make sure you book early to request an outdoor table in the warmer months. You won’t be sorry!
It’s not all about glamorous location of course. The Tokar family are seriously fabulous people. Rita and Leon Tokar and son Daniel put their heart and soul into the wines and the property.
They cellar door is open every day from 10am to 5pm.
The restaurant is open everyday for lunch and also on Saturday evenings for dinner.
Joie de Vivre is a delicious place to start! It’s a dry, sparkling Rose made from Pinot Noir & Chardonnay grown on the estate.
Of course, their Pinot Noir is not to be missed, but if you like your reds a little richer, then they also have one of the best Cab Savs in the area and a lovely Shiraz too.
1568 Melba Highway Dixons Creek Yarra Valley Victoria 3775 Open: Mon – Fri : 10:00am – 4:00pm Sat – Sun : 10:00am – 5:00pm www.mandalawines.com.au
Mandala make great wines that are truly Yarra Valley. And if you’re a Pinotphile, you’re really gonna love them.
Established by the Smedley family in 1999, Mandala has two separate sites under vine, both producing varietals that excel in the region. The Dixons Creek vineyard produces sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, while the second site at Yarra Junction was selected for its exceptional pinot noir growing conditions.
You’ll find their snazzy cellar door and glass house restaurant at the Dixons Creek site. The restaurant has expansive views of the surrounding vineyards and beyond.
They focus on locally sourced, seasonal produce to create an ever-evolving menu.
It’s the Yarra Valley, so it’s probably no surprise to hear that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are a must do at Mandala.
Particularly the Pinot Noir, where they have a gorgeous range of high-end and single vineyard Pinots. But really, everything is worth discovering here. Their Sav Blanc is a real surprise packet.
All current release wines are available to taste in the cellar door every day, and the special single site wines – including ‘The Compass’ Chardonnay, ‘The Prophet’ and ‘The Matriarch’ Pinot Noirs, ‘The Butterfly’ Cabernet Sauvignon and ‘The Rock’ Shiraz – join the list on selected weekends. Back vintages and cellar door only releases are also available throughout the year.
58 Pinnacle Ln, Dixons Creek VIC 3775 Open: Mon – Sun : 10:00am – 5:00pm www.debortoli.com.au
They’re one of Australia’s first families of wine, and they’re still going from strength to strength! Leanne De Bortoli (and for the record, you pronounce it ‘deh-bort-ali’) and winemaker husband Steve Webber set up the De Bortoli Yarra Valley operation in 1987, which has now grown to 240 acres of vineyards.
We love them for their large range (there really is a De Bortoli wine for every taste, budget and every occasion), their commitment to family and tradition, and their continued striving to produce good quality wines at every price point. The Yarra Valley is not known for producing the best value wine in Australia, but somehow De Bortoli manage to keep their Yarra wines very affordable indeed.
Their cellar door is a must visit when you’re in the region. Not least of which is because in addition to the wine they also have a CHEESE ROOM and offer you the opportunity to do cheese and wine flights.
The De Bortoli Yarra Valley range is extensive, but they also offer tastings of wines from other regions in which they operate.
If you’re planning lunch, then not to be missed is the heart and soul of their Yarra Valley Estate, the Italian inspired restaurant Locale.
Locale is family matriarch Emeri De Bortoli’s vision of a northern Italian-inspired trattoria with skilfully cooked, authentically Italian dishes made with fresh local produce continues to define what they do. It’s all about the De Bortoli family philosophy of sharing good food and wine with family and friends.
870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream VIC, 3770 Open: Mon – Sun : 10:00am – 5:00pm
French style wine from a 10th generation winemaker right here in Victoria’s Yarra Valley? What’s not to love?!
Dominique and his son Ben (the 10th winemaker in the Portet lineage. Yes TENTH!) produce stunning, elegant and flavourful wines drawing on their family’s long winemaking history.
Chances are one or both of them will be floating around the quaint and welcoming cellar door when you pop in, ready to charm you with their wines as well as their smile.
They ain’t famous for their Sparkling Rosé for nothing! Start with that before moving onto their delicious Sancerre style Sauvignon Blanc, and Provincial style, dry Rosé. Those two wines have seen a LOT of fabulous ladies (and lads!) return to a love of Savvy B and pink wine! And they remain two of our absolute favourites here at Fabulous HQ.
Then leave room for their amazing Shiraz, Cab, Merlot blend – which is one of the best value reds in the whole Yarra Valley.
Finally, you can up the ante with the incredible, soft Shiraz sourced from their Heathcote vineyards (nearby) or some of their other premium offerings from their Origine label.
Online Sales Only http://www.journeywines.com.au/
Now that you have tasted your way around the Yarra, how about something a little bit exclusive to remind you how wonderful Pinot country is?
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”. – Ernest Hemmingway
We love a bit of Hemingway. And we love a bit of Journey Wines. It’s the gorgeous, boutique, Yarra Valley wine brand of super fabulous winemaker Damian North. We love a bit of Damian too. He’s a lovely guy, making some seriously fabulous wines – using only those varieties that the Yarra Valley does best.
His ‘journey’ as a winemaker has taken him around the world, as he’s followed his passion for making premium Pinot Noir and clean, elegant Chardonnay. He’s now settled in the Yarra Valley, where he sources the fruit for Journey Wines from a number of exceptional vineyard sites in both the Yarra Valley and Heathcote, and makes his wines at the Medhurst winery in the Yarra.
Did somebody say Pinot? Yes, Pinotphiles, you will not be disappointed! Damian spent three whole years making nothing but Pinot during his time in Oregon in the USA. Let’s just say the two of them are now very well acquainted. And at only $34 a bottle, it’s exceptional value for money.
Journey Wines also produces a slinky Chardonnay and a super smart Shiraz. Order online and get them all into you.
Got a favourite Yarra Valley cellar door we haven’t mentioned here? Give ’em a shout out by leaving a comment below!
- Nov, 21 2016
Yarra Valley Birthday Food and Wine Tour
Every day Epicurean Food and Wine Tours speak with guests and discuss’s the very best food and wine tour for them. Here is a sample itinerary that includes a visit to 5 of the best wineries in the Yarra Valley. As part of any tour we include lots of tasty seasonal local produce to pair with some great Yarra Valley Wine. Tour in a Mercedes Valente or mini wine bus (depending on numbers both WiFi enabled with bottled water). Let us look after all the bookings and the driving for the day. You can sit back and listen to the commentary on what makes the Yarra Valley a world class wine region. Speak with us today on 03 9598 0943 and create your very own private tour to the Yarra Valley! All timings below are approximate and depend on pick up locations and time you would like to spend at each venue.
If you are looking for a more intimate day out in the Yarra Valley then look at our very special Tours for Two Yarra Valley Tour
Transfers from Melbourne City Centre or inner city suburbs at 9am for 6 guests
10am De Bortoli Cheese and Wine Pairing
11.15am Yering Station Cellar Door Tasting
1.30pm Domaine Chandon Cellar Door Tasting
2.30pm Coombe Estate Dessert
- Jul, 16 2016
Yarra Valley Day Tour
Well, the first thing to say is that there will be a lot of choices available to for a Yarra Valley Day Tour and in all Australian wine regions. Day tours, half day tours, Boutique winery visits, big winery brands, regional produce focussed, Chevvy tours, Private tours, public tours, Lots of cellar doors and light lunch, family run wineries, the inclusion of wildlife and sightseeing and this list goes on.
Choice is terrific but how do you go about making the right decision for the best wine tour for you? Because let’s face it, the last thing you want to be doing on your hard earned holiday is looking down the cellar door and spotting a tour that looks like it would have been a better experience for you.
So what is the right wine tour for you?
Small or Big Tour Group…
Give some thought and talk with your travelling partners about what you are looking for on a Yarra Valley Day Tour. Spend a bit of time seeing what wineries and other options are available to do on the day. Then see what tour options best match your preferences and at the price you are happy to pay!
You will need to understand (on the tour website or by speaking with the tour operator) what number is considered to be small. Some tour operators may consider this to be 24 and others just 4 or 6. It is a worthwhile question to ask if this is an important consideration for you. You may also look into a private tour, pay extra, and guarantee just your group. This will also allow a bit more flexibility in the itinerary and a great option if you have some “must do” options.
Small tour group’s advantages are that you are likely to move quicker as there are less bathroom breaks, photography sessions, cellar door purchases to be looked after that may hold up others. Small Groups on a Yarra Valley Day Tour in busy months make for a more personalised experience as cellar doors can get crowded.
Big group advantages are that there is a lot of people to meet and have a great day out with and they may be less expensive.
Small Group Tours may be able to spend a bit more time at wineries which leads me to…
What’s included in your Yarra Valley Day Tour?
Once again go through the detailed itinerary on the information available to you and determine how much time may be spent at each winery so you feel comfortable that you are not going to be rushed.Does the tour visit wineries you want to visit?
How many cellars doors are visited and what wines does the tasting include?
Is there a focus on food or just wine or any other activities unique to the region?
Does the wine tasting include reserve wines or is there an additional tasting fee?
Are there special inclusions such as meet the winemaker, tour of the winery, barrel tasting etc that may be of interest?
What does the lunch include, are there many choices, regional produce etc?Are the wineries visited by the operator going to present a good cross section of the region?
Then there is the general comfort and general considerations,-hotel transfers or meeting place, WiFi on vehicle, water, timing, dietary requirements, and family friendly.
Tripadvisor and Social Media Reviews
Once you have an idea of the type of tour you want jump on to Tripadvisor and other social media channels and get some testimonial description. I suggest not being put off by any not so glowing reviews unless there is an overwhelming theme here. It is possible that the tour wasn’t the right fit for this traveller as we are talking about here. The key is to read a lot of reviews with your criteria in mind. You will soon see a trend on the “highlights” that are being described from other guests experiences to determine whether this is a good choice for you. Check out Facebook for the same reason where you will also hopefully see lots of pictures and comments and maybe a special deal on the tour aswell!
If you are relying on an agent or a concierge to recommend ask if they have been on the tour as a guest so they can talk about direct personal experience. Even if this was a little while ago, guests will long remember how they “felt” about the experience.
Who is the guide? And who is the tour business?
If getting a good understanding of the wine region is up there for you, make sure you are getting a guide that can share this knowledge and passion with you. How long have they been touring in the region? Do they focus on just wine regions so dedicate all their resources here or other activities?What does TripAdvisor reviews say specifically about the guide? What is the background/special interest after all you will be spending 8 hours of your valuable down time with them. Why have they chosen the wineries they visit?
Hoping this is a help and you enjoy your next wine tour. It is an experience that can create lasting memories of great wine and a great wine region.
Here’s the thing. Yarra Valley Winter is not as green and lush with the vines being dormant but the upside is that there is no waiting for tasting and no crowds at cellar doors. You will also be touring with less people as there are less people visiting Melbourne. The warmer months on the other hand are scenically pretty but everyone is out to see them, including hens and bucks and leading into Christmas , corporate groups for end of year break ups. So you need to weigh up the time of year and what you are wanting to see and do as it may make a big difference to your experience and how many wineries you get around to.
Have a look at industry websites to see what is available by way of sightseeing and wineries. There may be specials out there at different times and your guide may ask if there is a particular winery you are keen on seeing if there is some spare time or with a smaller group of guests to allow for more flexibility.