- Oct, 03 2016
Yarra Valley Wine Tour
Amie Hu has kindly let us share her experience of the beautiful Yarra Valley wine region when she visited in April.
You can read below for where Amie visited on her Yarra Valley Wine Tour, her favourite wine and food experiences across the world. Read more about Amie Hu’s travels at http://www.amiehu.com/p/melbourne-maps.html
It’s time for Yarra Valley that weekend in April, catching onto the tail of summer in Melbourne… the fields were blooming in a luxurious shade of yellow. Oh, and it’s never too early to indulge in a drink or two, as Yarra teaches. In fact, wine tasting is a deliriously happy affair.
“Trust me you can dance,” ~ Wine
I was gloriously fattened up during that period of time, from an abundance of awesome food. I regret nothing! Yarra is generally flat, with gentle slopes of greenlands that stretch into the horizon forever and ever. I felt as if I was transported into a scene straight out of Heidi, okay, I know that is set in Switzerland but it sure feels like it.
Yarra Valley Wine Tour Yering Station
38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
Apparently they are extremely generous with their wine tasting servings – not that I am complaining! 😉 But it is pretty safe to say my ability to remember details just deteriorated from there, so the most striking memory I could recall is that I remembered nodding in approval to Yering’s wines, or were at least, pleasantly intrigued by what they offered. In particular, they had really fancy wines infused with a huge variety of fruity zests – sniff out pear, shortbread, green apple, almond, macadamia and treacle aroma in the Cuvee, and remember to taste lemon, honey, cloudy apple, orange sherbet, and grapefruit while you’re at it. They had about six of those for us to try. Tastings are not charged here.
Yarra Valley Wine Tour Tarrawarra Estate
311 Healesville, Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen
2014 Pinot Noir Rosé (AUD22/bottle) from Tarrawarra Estate is the best of their collection. Tarrawarra Estate has a couple of others such as the 2013 Roussanne Marsanne Viognier (AUD30/bottle), 2013 Estate Chardonnay (AUD28/bottle), 2013 Reserve Chardonnay (AUD50/bottle), 2013 Estate Pinot Noir (AUD28/bottle), 2011 Hunter’s Red Shiraz/Merlot (AUD22/bottle), 2012 J-Block Shiraz (AUD35/bottle) and 2009 K Block Merlot (AUD40/bottle). Tastings are at AUD5/pax.
336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville
There aren’t many restaurants in the region, but the most popular one evidently has got to be the Innocent Bystander given the long queues. Time passes quite quickly if you’d put your name on the waiting list and hop to the next bar to have a drink first. They have a hall of fame with guest recommendations, newspaper/magazine features that flaunt how much of a stamp of approval they have from their fanbase. Their confidence shines through their wines as well, which they describe to be ‘reliable, over-performing and eminently affordable, varietal wines’. For starters, we had the Pork belly, chicken liver terrine with zucchini pickles and baguette (AUD13) and the Ora king salmon cured in pastrami spices with horseradish cream (AUD13) which hardly made a dent in our growling stomachs. The pork belly was one of the better ones I’ve tried, nearly achieving the instant melty effect that I love. The Ora king salmon was expectedly really tasty, so fresh and smooth, but I only wished it was a larger serving. Although it was quite a wait before our pizzas came, their Murray River salted frites (AUD7) kept us entertained for a while.
Innocent Bystander has an open-kitchen concept for guests to watch their chefs in action – particularly the Italian pizza chefs doing hand-stretched pizzas. Their pizzas are indeed overperformers, with fluffy and sinful pillows of buffalo mozarella cheese and savoury fresh slices of spicy pork sausage, San Marzano tomato and chilli on their pizzas (AUD24). Switching up with the San Daniele prosciutto, San Marzano tomato, cravero parmesan and rocket (AUD26), both pizzas that we tried were really delicious regardless.
Yarra Valley Wine Tour Dominique Portet
870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
Dominique Portet is a 10th Generation winery in the Yarra Valley. Its architecture is telling of its historical roots from France, especially its large arched windows that allows sunlight to stream in. One of those we tried include the 2014 Fontaine Rosé which is distinctively bright salmon in color, with a celebratory blend of merlot (50%), shiraz (30%) and carbenet (20%). It is refreshing yet creamy, wonderful to enjoy during lunch just before a siesta, isn’t it?
Yarra Valley Wine Tour Domaine Chandon
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
I have given up on drinking by now because it was quite an overkill after so many stops.. so I’ve retreated to photo-taking outside Domaine Chandon (the rest who continued their wine tasting adventures did mention they enjoy this stop the most). Right outside Domaine Chandon is a sizable amount of grape vineyards, you can simply find a lounge chair and watch the planes go by. Most people would also make a stop halfway to the
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie
35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen
so that’s something you can consider if you’re planning for a trip to the Yarra Valley.
- 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.