Visit the Yarra Valley Wine County

Since I moved to Melbourne, one thing on my ‘list of things to do’ while living in Melbourne was to go on a wine tasting  tour of the famous Yarra Valley wine country. I finally did and here is the break down of where we went.

The Tour

I booked a tour with Autopia Tours via Base-X Hostel and it cost $110 for a full packaged tour. That provided:

The Trip

It was an early start for us since we had to arrive to our pick-up locating by 7:35 a.m. We started off late since there were a few people running late. The day was cold and rain was predicted for us, but it didn’t ruin the trip. It was a bit over an hour from the CBD to our first stop.

Gateway Estate

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We arrived at the Gateway Estate where they gave us a tour and talk about their products. They specialize in strawberries and bell peppers.

We could barely hear what the guide was saying, the rain was hitting the roof of the nursery that was drowning her voice out. It didn’t help that she kept on turning her back to us while talking.

After the talk we finally started with the booze, getting down to the serious business. We tried a strawberry liquor, strawberry port,  and a strawberry creme. There was a nice spread of some local cheeses with fresh fruit and some of their home made chutney. My favorite chutney was the bell pepper one. I ended up buying two of the cheese and the bell pepper chutney to take home with me.

Napoleone Cider House and Brewery

Now it was around 9:30 a.m. and already feeling a bit buzzed. This place was aesthetically pleasing, with its rustic look and lush green grounds.

We continued with the tasting here. The bartender started us off with their well known apple cider, he went on to describe the history and gave us plenty of information about the brewery house.  Then we had three more samples of anything we liked that was on tap.

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The ciders are made on the grounds and they are from 100% fresh apples and pear juice. My favorites were their pale ale and the apple cider. You can see the tanks right behind the bar. We had a bit of time to check out the grounds and we took this time to take a few pictures.

Dominque Portet Winery

We arrived at at our next stop all chatty and giddy, off the few tastings we had. We were taken to the warehouse behind the tasting room, where we tasted four of the their best selling wines. I wasn’t too fond  of  the wine here, the sparkling was a bit sweet for my taste, I am not a rose  or chardonnay drinker, and the cab sav was also not my favorite from others. That still didn’t stop me from drinking them. Granted they are French wines I am not to partial to French wines, except of course for a few Beaujolais.

The guide was very informative he spoke about the winery and described each wine with great detail, making it easy for a novice wine drinker to understand each characteristic of wines.

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Having a bit of fun

Rochford Winery

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This place was packed. It had a separate bar top where people where seated and tasting a few wines and it was also the the gift shop. We were directed to a tasting room just for us and we had rows of wine barrels in the cellar behind us. Many of their wine awards were on display on the wall of the room.

This was by far my most favorite selection of wines, and it wasn’t the wine in me talking. I took home a bottle of one of their white blends and bought a bottle of Sav Blanc to share over lunch.

The lunch we had was delicious but a bit too small for some people, but it’s a typical Melbourne size plate. Here I am making friends with a few students and Au Pairs. By this time we were “three sheets to the wind.”

Hanrahan Vineyard

The last vineyard we went to was a really short drive from Rochford, it is nestled among rolling hills with rows and rows of grape vines.

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The owner himself lead this tour. They had some very nice wines, but by this time it was very hard to differentiate all the characteristics from each wine we have tasted. Something interesting about this place is that they offer a reverse BYO, if you bring your picnic blanket and own food they will supply the wine.

We were treated to more local cheese and had some time to wander around. This was our last winery stop. Next on we headed to a local Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery.

The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery

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This place also packed with family and other tourist. As soon as you enter the venue you are greeted by three large bowl of chocolate drops in milk, white, or dark and you can take a free scope. The place smelled so sweet that I got a tooth ache as soon as I walked in. It looked a child’s fantasy in there. They had a wall full of different chocolates, tables with colorful packaging and ribbons of chocolate of all shapes and sizes. I couldn’t resist buying some while I was there.

I also couldn’t resist getting some ice cream, they had salted caramel my favorite.

After this place we headed back to the CBD with our belly’s full and our heads swimming from all the wine we had. Our tour guide was really great and if your ever going to do a tour I would highly suggest going on the one I went on. Each place we visited was professional and handled the group respectably. The best part about taking a tour is that your are being driven around so you don’t have to worry about driving and everyone in your party can enjoy themselves, learn about wine and have fun.

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