It’s hard to believe the Yarra Valley is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne; the scenery changes so quickly and you’re soon surrounded by lush countryside, stunning vistas, great cellar doors and divine diving. The Yarra Valley is known for its award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and with so many cellar doors to choose from in the region, you’re spoilt for choice.
Go beyond the big name wineries and check out some boutique wineries and unearth some hidden gems, all while sampling local produce at some exceptional vineyard restaurants.
Here’s our list of Yarra Valley’s best vineyards:
OK, it’s a big brand but starting the day with bubbles is the best way to begin! Established by French Champagne house Moët & Chandon, Chandon is renowned for making premium méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines. The bonus to visiting the cellar door is trying their larger range of cool climate still wines, limited releases and cellar door-only wines such as the latest Chandon Altius Upper Yarra Cuvée 2012. Stay and dine at Green Point Brasserie with the lush countryside as your backdrop and plenty of time to enjoy some Chandon wines.
There are some high expectations as you arrive at the sleek, modern building with sweeping vineyard views, but you won’t be disappointed by the food, wine and total Oakridge experience. There’s a great cellar door tasting area where you can also browse a selection of local produce and gifts or indulge in a pre-booked food and wine masterclass. You’ll be guided through a selection of current and museum release wines matched with tasty canapés. Otherwise, book in to the restaurant and enjoy creative cuisine by talented chef Matt Stone.
Overall it’s a very elegant experience at Levantine Hill. The cellar door is a formal affair curated for your palate by experienced cellar door team. Ezard at Levantine Hill is a stylish setting with Chef Teage Ezard creating a five- or eight-course degustation extravaganza with matched wines (of course) as well as a more relaxed offering for those on the go.
Ever-so-conveniently located across the road from Levantine Hill, Rochford is easy to find. Famous for hosting epic Day on the Green music festivals, you should also visit for their restaurant and wine bar, open for breakfast and lunch for either casual platters at the bar or dining in style in the restaurant. Taste Senior Winemaker Marc Lunt’s award-winning Dans les Bois Pinot Noir. Good news for vegans or those with allergies: Rochford offers some vegan wines as well!
Perfect in winter with a cosy fireplace, Soumah produces modern wines of distinction. Soumah also has a casual onsite Trattoria serving northern Italian cuisine and Italian cheese boards, the perfect accompaniment to an award-winning Pinot Noir. Or indulge in a chocolate plate by local chocolatier Kennedy and Wilson.
With a new cellar door neatly set in the hillside, this modern cellar door is sleek, sexy and totally Insta-worthy! The whole estate is breathtaking with rolling hills and vines, and an on-site restaurant with stunning cuisine by Head Chef Troy Spencer, who uses produce from the kitchen garden and locally-sourced items to accompany the spectacular in-house wines. The incredible TarraWarra Museum of Art is not to be missed either, with temporary themed exhibitions on throughout the year.
Conveniently located in the main street of gorgeous Healesville, you’ll find even the locals flock to Giant Steps for their delectable pizzas. Tastings are available for their Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander brands, including their popular Moscato, plus there’s a private wine tasting area behind glass amongst the barrels. It’s a loud, fun space serving wood-fired pizza and a great spot to stop for provisions including epic freshly baked bread, artisan cheeses and treats.
Speaking of cheeses, no trip to the Yarra Valley is complete without visiting Yarra Valley Dairy. This cute-as-a-button store is located in the original 100-year-old milking shed, right beside the cheese factory. Yarra Valley Dairy also represents around 30 small winemakers by acting as their cellar door. Almost every weekend you can meet the maker and stay for a delicious cheese platter. Bliss!
Many Yarra Valley cellar doors charge a small tasting fee, generally redeemable when you purchase wine, so check their websites before your visit.
Where to Stay
Stay in style at Wingspread, a two-bedroom cottage with views of rolling hills and mountain ranges. Wingspread is a private country retreat ideal for wine weekends. Rates from $250 per night. Or check out other Yarra Valley accommodation options available for romantic getaways or group getaways.