Victoria, Yarra Valley & Strathbogie Ranges Wine Trail
The Yarra Valley lies less than an hour north east of Melbourne and has become one of Australia’s most stylish wine regions where you’ll arguably find some of Australia’s best pinot noir and sparkling wines.
It’s a region boasting diverse soils, temperate weather (warmer than Burgundy but cooler than Bordeaux), and the dedication of generations of vignerons that kick-started Victoria’s wine industry in 1838. It boasts more than 80 wineries best known for their sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and is one of the most visited wine regions of Australia.
The picturesque valley is famous for the quality and flavour of its wine, its vineyards and rolling green hills, and the pleasures of locally produced food and wine.
Only 1.5 hours further north, lies another of Victoria’s wine regions, the Strathbogie Ranges. A cool climate region with high altitudes and granite rich soils, its open and windswept landscape produces wines full of character and elegance, with Chardonnay,
Riesling and Shiraz being among the standout varietals. As a growing wine region many smaller producers do not operate a cellar door. However, the nearby townships in and around Avenel and Nagambie have excellent wineries and eateries that serve local produce.
This unique and relatively unknown region is perfect for those wanting to flee the big smoke and discover award winning wines among misty mornings, shady gum trees and picture-perfect sunsets in historic Ned Kelly country!
Morning - De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate
Kick off your two-day Yarra Valley and Strathbogie Ranges wine trail at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate, sampling the wines of one of Australia’s more well-known wine families.
A childhood spent climbing olive trees, eating fresh figs and roller skating around large vats of wine in the family-owned winery sounds like the stuff of dreams.
For Leanne de Bortoli, a third generation family member and manager of De Bortoli wines in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, that dream was very much the reality.
“It was pretty cool having a winery as a playground when you are a kid!” she says.
De Bortoli Wines was established in 1928 by
Leanne’s grandparents, Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli in Bilbul, New South Wales. Since then, the De Bortoli family have purchased vineyards in some of Australia’s best-known wine regions including the Yarra Valley within Victoria.
The Yarra Valley Estate comprises 240 hectares of vines, some of which are more than 40 years old and make up the portfolio of premium Yarra Valley wines.
It’s a big operation and there is a very good restaurant attached if you’re in the need for a little sustenance before moving on.
Choose from the 3.5 hour Gourmet Experience, offering personalised wine tasting and a three-course lunch or a 4-hour De Bortoli Experience, with a vineyard and winery tour.
3.5 hour Gourmet Experience - $138 per person*
Enjoy a seated personalised gourmet cheese and wine tasting held in the De Bortoli Trophy Room. During the 60-minute session, taste a selection of current and older vintages, all served with a gourmet cheese platter.
At De Bortoli’s ‘Locale’ restaurant enjoy a seasonal three-course Italian-inspired Chef’s Menu lunch with matched wines. Tea and coffee are served with homemade biscotti to finish off your special day.
There is the opportunity to purchase wines through the Cellar Door and have them shipped overseas.
4-hour De Bortoli Experience - $165 per person*
Experience a behind-the-scenes vineyard and winery tour followed by a seated gourmet cheese and wine tasting held in the De Bortoli Trophy Room. During the 60-minute session, taste a selection of current and older vintages, all served with a gourmet cheese platter.
Enjoy a seasonal 3-course Italian-inspired Chef’s Menu lunch with matched wines and tea and coffee are served with homemade biscotti to finish off your special day.
Additional extras include a helicopter or chauffeur service and accommodation in a five-star hotel or charming cottage in nearby Healesville.
Beyond wine, the Yarra Valley offers some of regional Victoria’s best restaurants showcasing the lush and bountiful local produce.
Discover the region’s local produce for yourself, stopping at farm gates, roadside stalls and gourmet outlets to collect ingredients for a picnic lunch.
Interestingly, while the region is old, most of the wineries look sparkling and new because the region didn’t really hit its straps as a tourist destination until around 30 years ago.
Take a wander through the regional food and wine hub of Healesville, stopping off at Kitchen and Butcher for charcuterie, fresh veggies, and cute tea towels and knick knacks, or the fiercely independent Barrique Wine Store.
Grab a coffee at the Innocent Bystander, or Essenza, Healesville’s first Italian-styled espresso bar, café and restaurant.
For those who have worked up an appetite, the restaurant selection in the Yarra Valley is huge. Besides the restaurant at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander, there’s Bella Vedere Cucina at Coldstream, the reborn food and wine-centric Healesville Hotel for great pub tucker and Eleonore’s at Chateau Yering as well as Locale with its menu of Italian country-style cuisine at De Bortoli.
If you are travelling with children consider a visit to Healesville Sanctuary to experience some native Australian flora and fauna that the kids are bound to love.
In Healesville stay in one of the cottages close to Healesville Hotel such as Furmston House or Vintage House. With a One Hat restaurant and named Best Regional Restaurant in the 2014 Good Food Guide, the hotel is perfect for a delicious dinner and you are only a short walk away from bed.
Otherwise opt for comfortable villas in a pretty bush setting at Araluen Lodge, or for something a little extravagant, Chateau Yering Hotel.
Morning - Fowles Wine
An early start to the day is well worth it to experience a hot air balloon ride over the valley and vineyards with Global Ballooning, before departing the Yarra Valley.
Enjoy a short one and a half hour scenic drive to the Strathbogie Ranges, a stunning region peppered with smaller, boutique wine producers such as Fowles Wine.
Fowles Wine is a family owned winery and their Cellar Door and Cafe is located just off the Hume Freeway at Avenel. Their winemaking facility, located nearby on Upton Hill, offers stunning views across the central Victorian plains and is open to guests by appointment.
The winery is the world’s first to craft a range of wines specifically to match wild game meat ‘Ladies who Shoot their Lunch’. Fowles Wine Chief Executive (and avid wild food and wine man) Matt Fowles says that the creation of this unique label was one of the highlights of his career. “Marketing advisers and wine industry peers said I was mad and that it would fail. However, I had a hunch that people would love the style of wines and embrace the philosophy behind them - something that is very close to my heart”. He turned out to be right and the range of wines has proven to be a great success and a ‘must try’ for any visitor to the Cellar Door and Cafe.
Aim to arrive at Fowles Wine Cellar Door and Cafe by late morning or early afternoon so that you can enjoy the 2-hour ‘Are You Game?’ Experience which includes a delicious lunch of four tastes of game with matched wines.
Continue on to visit the picturesque town of Euroa. The main street of which has evolved into a wonderful collection of antique stores, bookshops, home made clothes, jewellery, furniture, cafés, galleries and bakeries…a step back in time.
The Euroa Butter Factory, built in 1901 is a beautifully restored historic building in a creekside setting with immense rustic charm. It now operates
as a Bed and Breakfast, as well as a restaurant and is home to ‘The Store’ café, a great spot to enjoy an afternoon coffee. Weary travellers might even choose to make the most of their experience and book in for the night.
The return drive to Melbourne is an easy 1.5 hour south on the Hume Freeway.
5 hour Stone Dwellers Experience - $95 per person* (min 10 guests)
Arrive at Fowles Wine Cellar Door Cafe for morning tea and enjoy a selection of home baked cakes and tarts with premium teas and coffee.
Enjoy a scenic coach ride to Fowles Wine vineyards and winery before meeting a wine expert for a casual but informative behind the scenes tour featuring tank and barrel room tastings. Then savour a glass of wine while enjoying views of our dramatic granite strewn landscape.
Having worked up an appetite, return to the Cellar Door for a two course lunch featuring share platters of premium local produce and our favourite freshly prepared dishes with a glass of Stone Dwellers wine.
2-hour ‘Are You Game?’ Experience - $60 per person*
Enjoy a casual tasting with a wine expert, and discover the standout varietals from the cool climate Strathbogie Ranges, before tucking into something a little bit wild...
Experience the ‘Gamekeepers Platter’ - four delicious tastes of game paired with Ladies who Shoot their Lunch and Are you Game? wines.
Complete the experience with dessert, tea or coffee and a take away recipe to inspire you to recreate it at home.