I truly believe that wine is an essential part of life. And that is why as soon as I heard about the magical Yarra Valley and its wine tours, I decided a trip out of the city was definitely in order.
Me and my fellow travel buddy had booked a wine tour which promised spectacular views, free chocolate and of course, the most important part of it all, wine. Cafe Bus Winery Tours picked us up early from central Melbourne. This early start was true commitment from someone who cherishes their weekend lie-ins after spending the week waking up at 5.30am for work. The things you do for wine, honestly.
We were at our first stop by 9AM – Gateway Estate Farm House – a family run shop and cafe full of freshly made produce. After a brief tour of the strawberry picking and giant pepper trees, we traipsed back to the cafe where a spread had been put on for us. Boy, was I excited. Even at 9.30AM, I was able to fill up on meats and cheeses and crackers and grapes and chutneys and delicate servings of different alcoholic beverages. This was shaping up to be a grand day.
Next stop at 10AM was Napoleone. I loved it here – a peaceful building surrounded by acres of vines and greenery. It encompassed everything I never knew I wanted in life – a quiet and laid back family run estate full of charm, vine yards, cider and beer. What a life. Our little tour group were treated to a range of different beverages including apple cider, pear and apple cider, lager and pale ale. Then, we had time to wander around the estate taking in the acres of beautiful landscape and wondering how we could become creators of alcohol and live a life as peaceful as this.
By 11AM, we were at our third stop – the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie (and ice creamery). Like a bloodhound, I was magnetically pulled into the building by the delicious smells of melted chocolate oozing out into the countryside. Like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, this shop was filled to the brim with everything you could possibly want in a chocolate shop. After ambling around, my mouth watering, I decided the prices were slightly too high so stocked up on the freebies at the front of the store. A girl’s gotta eat.
This Chocolaterie was again in such a beautiful location, I didn’t have time to question my decision not to buy any chocolate. Surrounded by fields, rolling hills, we had a pleasant time enjoying the view and blue skies in the little bit of sunshine which was starting to make an appearance. The ice-cream was also extremely tempting with lots of interesting flavours – pancake and maple syrup, rocky road…however after a rather boozy breakfast and one too many scoops of the free chocolate samples, I simply had to say “no” (I just don’t know who I am anymore).
Next on our adventure was a stop at Dominique Portent winery. This winery again is a family run establishment in the heart of the Valley with a father-son duo keeping everything, especially the wine, running smoothly. With the day still clear, we partook in a game of Petanque (a game a bit like Boules) which offered the chance to win a free bottle of wine. This was my time to shine. I mean, the only time to be competitive is when free wine is at stakes right? However, I failed in an abysmal fashion.
Then, it was time for the wine tasting. We were introduced to some exquisite wines which we enjoying swirling around and taking delicate sips before knocking the whole thing back (old habits die hard). After a spot of lunch, it was time to leave to go back to the cafe bus and head to our next port of call.
We arrived at Rochford Winery and were instantly shown to our wine tasting session. Sat at tables, we listened to the holder of the wine as he told us of the history of the establishment and what kinds of wine we were going to be sampling. We enjoyed a Chardonnay, a Cerberus, a Pinot Noir and even a dessert wine, the Rochford Rutherglen Muscat. They were all beautiful and nearly almost tempted me to stop buying the $5 stuff I got from Aldi and instead try and be a bit more sophisticated. That was until I saw the prices of course. Aldi, you’ve always got my back.
Rochford Winery was also a restaurant and store with lots of lovely knick knacks and books. There was also a balcony which you go up too to catch some incredible views of the Yarra Valley.
Our last and final stop was possibly my favourite of them all. However, I am looking back at my notes whilst writing this and I seem to have not written down the name of this particular establishment which is annoying but just means that you will have to go and find out for yourselves..
This wine tasting was hosted by a super friendly and informative guy who chatted easily to us whilst his enthusiasm for his wine shone through. We tried four different types of wine, each as tasty as the last, whilst overlooking the endless vines and catching glimpse of the kangaroos which were bounding between them. We stayed at this spot for a while, enjoying some snacks and watching as a herd of kangaroos jumped through the vines as they escaped a dog walker and his dog. Oh Australia.
The day was beautiful. Filled with chocolate, wine, stunning views and enthusiastic and friendly wine connoisseurs, I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who is after a day of exploring. If you are a lover of wine and of chocolate, you can’t really go wrong with heading out of the city, delving deep into the countryside and experiencing the true authentic tastes of Melbourne.
In fact, I am more than tempted to never leave Melbourne, and stay in the Yarra Valley drinking wine and eating cheese and watching Kangaroos. Now, that’s the dream.