A Guide To The Yarra Valley Wineries
For generations, the vast Yarra Valley, Melbourne's favorite food and wine playground, has enticed visitors from all over Victoria and beyond. This part of Victoria, with its rolling vineyards and quaint towns encased by a seemingly endless swath of pristine Australian bush, has inspiring adventures around every corner. The best part is that it's only an hour's drive from Melbourne's central business district.
Healesville has a world-class food and wine scene, with a smattering of hipster bars, galleries, and shops thrown in for good measure. There's also a natural paradise in Marysville, with endless hiking, biking, and skiing opportunities.
Expect to find winding roads through timeless forests, endless hiking and cycling trails, and exceptional providores, cellar doors, cafes, and restaurants in the spaces in between.
The Yarra Valley, on the other hand, is all about the small things, slow drives through the forest, sneaky sausage rolls at a country bakery, or an off-the-beaten-path cellar door selling organic wines. It's about strolling through densely forested areas, warm nights by the fire, and summer nights spent sipping Lambrusco at the Farmers markets.
While the Yarra Valley is best known for its delicious food and fine wine, there are plenty of walking trails, activities, and gardens to discover. Let’s find out what Yarra Valley offers more than the beautiful wineries.
Reasons To Visit Yarra Valley
Museums and Historic Sites
The TarraWarra Museum of Art is a striking modern structure that houses Australian art from the 1950s to the present day. It also has a permanent rotating exhibition that has included work by heavyweights like Sidney Nolan, Brett Whitely, and Arthur Boyd.
The Phoenix Museum in Marysville is also worth a visit. The museum serves as an information center as well as a memorial to the town's near-destruction by bushfires in 2009.
There's also the Mont De Lancey Historic Property, which offers a glimpse into life in the past, and the Healesville Glass Blowing Studio, where you can watch glass blowing in action and even create your own small token to take home.
Playgrounds and Gardens
The Yarra Valley is home to a plethora of hidden and not-so-hidden gardens that will take your breath away.
Alowyn Gardens offers an informative and educational experience for those interested in gardening, as well as those who just want to enjoy the surroundings, with six display areas, including an edible garden. If you want to see some fascinating animals, visit the Healesville Sanctuary, where you can see Australian native wildlife beauty up close.
Pick your own strawberries, visit the greenhouse for locally grown produce, and stop by the café for a bite to eat. There are even plenty of playgrounds for the kids to enjoy for families visiting.
Tours and Walks
It's the ideal place to visit if you want to get out in nature while in the Yarra Valley. The Gawa Wurundjeri Resource Trail is a 340-meter loop that takes tourists through the Wurundjeri clan's past as well as indigenous flora and fauna. It's a fascinating look into Wurundjeri territory.
Although the Puffing Billy railway offers a unique perspective of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, there are also numerous walks and tours available inside the park. The Tourist Track winds through fern-filled gullies and across boardwalks and bridges, whereas the Living Bush Nature Walk is a multi-sensory experience in which walkers learn about the bush through sight, sound, touch, and smell.
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail, a 40-kilometer recreation trail for walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders, follows the path of the historic railway line. You'll pass vineyards, mountain scenery, station platforms, and even the original 1882 railway station as you walk the path.
Finally, visit Warburton's Redwood Forest, which is home to the stunning California Redwoods.
Hot Air Balloons
On a scenic hot air balloon ride, get up bright and early for a bird's-eye view of the Yarra Valley. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will take your breath away with unrivaled views of the city. When you soar over rolling hills embroidered with vines, take in the sunrise. It's time for a champagne breakfast after you've returned to earth.
The Yarra Valley is home to one of Melbourne's most popular skydiving sites. As you jump from 15,000 feet in the air with your tandem partner, you'll be greeted by an endless stretch of wineries and Port Phillip Bay. It would be an understatement to say that the view and experience are breathtaking.
In this exciting one-of-a-kind experience, leap from 15,000 feet and freefall over Melbourne. As you slide, take in bird's-eye views of the city and hit the ground safely with the assistance of highly skilled people and cutting-edge equipment.
Dairy Farm And Chocolaterie
Yarra Valley dairy farm was established over a century ago as a resource for local farmers. Today, it still uses milk from local farmers to make some of the region's most beautiful cheeses. Their farm shop has a wide range of on-site-made cheeses, as well as locally made jams, pickles, mustards, and other delectable treats.
And there is also an ice cream parlor too. Get your sweet fix at this Yarra Valley showroom and café. A processing area on the 40-acre site with orchards and gardens produces over 250 handcrafted tasty treats. Free chocolate tastings are available at the showroom, as well as a range of things to take home and share with friends. Lunch will be served, followed by an ice cream cone, followed by a stroll through the beautiful gardens to burn off the calories.
Driving Down The Black Spur Is An Altogether Artistic Experience
Between Healesville and Narbethong, Black Spur Drive (or simply Black Spur) is a 30-kilometer stretch of the Maroondah Highway known for its twisty turns into the rainforest. Tall mountain ash trees, which are native to this area of the country, line the path. A drive through the Black Spur is undoubtedly one of the valley’s most relaxing experiences.
Reasons To Visit Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley, in Victoria, is about 60 kilometers east of Melbourne's central business district. The Wurundjeri people have lived in the Yarra Valley for 30,000 years and are the traditional owners of the region. The area underwent a rapid change as a result of European settlement, with logging, mining, and farming becoming the primary industries in the newly formed state.
It wasn't long before the region was recognised as ideal for wine production, and the Ryrie brothers planted the first vines in the Yarra Valley in 1838. Since then, viticulture has grown rapidly as the region's wine has gained international recognition. St. Huberts, De Bortoli, Yering Station, and Oakridge are among the world's best-known cold-climate wineries from Yarra Valley. The valley now entices Victorians (and everyone else!) with its exceptional food, wine, and natural setting.
Wineries of The Valley
The Yarra Valley's distinctive landscape contributes significantly to its status as one of the world's best wine regions. It follows the famous and culturally important Yarra River through the valley floor, which then works its way into Melbourne, with mountains on either side like a pair of welcoming, open arms.
The Yarra Valley's climate is one of the key factors that attracts top winemakers. The area, which is one of Australia's southernmost appellations, is subject to weather patterns that originate in the Southern Ocean. Variations in altitude and, of course, soil conditions affect. This means that the Yarra Valley's total area under vine, about 2,500 hectares, benefits from a range of distinct microclimates, resulting in an elegant array of distinct profiles.
The diversity of the Yarra Valley's conditions is reflected in the diversity of its winemaking talent. It draws producers from all over the world, each with their own passion, experience, and ideology to offer. Winemakers in the Yarra Valley, like anyone who is passionate about their work. They will happily welcome guests into their cellar doors and will passionately explain what goes into each drop. So let’s have a look at the 5 best Wineries of the Yarra Valley.
1. Helen & Joey Estate
Helen & Joey Estate, which was established in 2010, is a family-owned winery that produces outstanding cool climate wines from their 85-acre vineyard in the Yarra's Gruyere subregion. A visit to their cellar door, nestled in the Warramate foothills, will make you feel like a member of the family.
Meg Brodtmann MW, a senior winemaker, is Australia's first female Master of Wine and has extensive experience producing wine all over the world. Meg collaborates closely with Jamie McGlade, to make excellent Pinot Gris, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.
While sipping wine from various ranges, take in the breathtaking views from the Helen & Joey deck.
2-14 Spring Lane, Gruyere
Distance from Melbourne: 52 min (53.7 km)
2. Stones of the Yarra Valley
The restaurant Stones of the Yarra Valley has earned a stellar reputation for its delectable seasonal menus, comprehensive wine list, and impeccable service.
The Stables at Stones is one of the most popular food and wine destinations in the Yarra Valley. The historic Stables building served as the property's stablehand quarters until it was converted into the fine-dining room it is today in the late 1800s.
The wine list at The Stables has been carefully selected to highlight the best of the Yarra Valley's producers as well as a wide variety of international wines.
It's all about sharing plates and matching wines. The menu is constantly evolving, which keeps guests interested. The staff is fantastic, as are the Stones in general. The views are breathtaking, and add this winery to your must-see list of Yarra Valley wineries.
12 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream VIC 3770
Distance from Melbourne: 52 min (53.6 km)
3. Giant Steps
Phil Sexton founded Giant Steps in the 1990s as one of the only operating wineries in downtown Healesville. Most lodgings are within walking distance. A tasting at Giant Steps takes place in the barrel room, which is where the wines are aged and where the aromas of winemaking abound.
Single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from four or more sites are the house's specialties, which you can taste side by side to compare terroir differences. Giant Steps is a great place to bring a group and will satisfy both wine novices and experts. A large restaurant and outdoor seating area are also included in the space.
336-364 Maroondah Highway, Healesville; Ph: (03) 5962 6111
Distance from Melbourne: 1 hr (64.0 km)
4. Seville Estate
The Yarra Valley was reborn as one of Australia's premium wine regions when Seville Estate started making wine in the early 1970s. The family-run winery has established itself as one of the best in the world, winning them the title of Halliday's 2019 Winery of the Year.
Try the Seville Estate Shiraz, which earned 99 out of 100 points in the prestigious Halliday Wine Awards.
Walk-in tastings are free at the cellar entrance. Bookings are available for groups of six or more people, and there is a $5 per person tasting charge.
65 Linwood Road, Seville VIC 3139, Ph: (03) 5964 2622
Distance from Melbourne: 57 min (55.9 km)
Although the Oakridge vineyards and winery were established in 1978, the current cellar door was only opened in 2013. The striking, architect-designed building stands out against the surrounding vines with its sleek industrial lines.
Within, you'll find a fantastic range of award-winning wines such as Pinot Gris, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet, and more. Lunch at Oakridge's one-hatted restaurant, where chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett serve seasonal menus focused on fresh ingredients from the Oakridge kitchen garden, as well as wild produce found on foraging and fishing excursions throughout the area.
864 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream 3770, Ph: +61 (03) 9738 9900
Distance from Melbourne: 50 min (56.7 km)
Yarra Valley Weather
The Yarra Valley's year-round pleasant weather is one of its best features, making it a wonderful place to visit at any time of year. Because the Yarra Valley is more mountainous and has higher elevations, the Yarra Valley weather forecast is typically a little cooler than Melbourne temperatures throughout the year.
Summer in the Yarra Valley is comfortable and mild, with only some hot days. During the winter, the region experiences strong cold winds and frost, as well as plenty of rain, with average temperatures of 13°C.
Autumn, on the other hand, can be windy and rainy at times. This is when most grapes are harvested, so if you're interested in learning about winemaking, this is the best time to visit.
How To Reach Yarra Valley From Melbourne
By Car: Some car services, originating in Melbourne or the Yarra Valley, provide a private chauffeur for the day. If you plan on visiting many wineries in one day, it is strongly recommended that you use the service because Australian driving laws are extremely strict.
If you intend to drive yourself for a longer stay, the area has plenty of parking as well as charming hotels and bed and breakfasts. Melbourne's central business district is just an hour away on this scenic drive. From Melbourne, take the Eastern Freeway until you hit the Burke Road North exit. Follow Burke Road to Upper Heidelberg Road and Metropolitan Route 44 to Eltham, then turn right onto the Eltham-Yarra Glen Road at Kangaroo Ground.
Public Transport: Melbourne's public transportation is probably the best in the world, so getting to Healesville in under two hours for less than $10 is easy. To get to your destination, simply board a train and switch to a bus.
Helicopter: When money is no restraint, the most trendy way to get to the Yarra Valley is to take a 20-minute helicopter ride straight to one of the wineries. En route, you'll be treated to unrivaled aerial views of Melbourne and the surrounding countryside. Several Yarra wineries (Levantine Hill, Oakridge, Domaine Chandon, Tarrawarra Estate, and De Bortoli) have a launchpad and sell it as part of a package deal for about $1,500 that even includes a winery lunch.
Best Time of The Year To Visit
It's simple to schedule your visit around the weather, thanks to the mild and constant temperatures. Spring is the wettest season, so if you don't like wearing raincoats and gumboots, stay away from September and October. However, the end of Spring is a wonderful time to visit. It's warm but not overwhelming, and the vines are just beginning to produce the next season's harvest, so there's a lovely buzz in the air.
When planning your journey, bear in mind that March is harvest season, which is an excellent time to visit the vineyards and go on wine-tasting tours.
The annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival, held in the Dandenong Ranges around September/October, is a must-see for tulip fans. Yes, it's the rainy season, but the tulips are in full bloom and looking spectacular. There's also the Healesville Music Festival, which takes place in November and is a great way to get a feel for the area by sampling local food and wine while listening to live music. There's even a tent for the kids, so bring them along.
If you enjoy food, wine, music, and entertainment, Shedfest is a great place to go. The festival, which is now in its 17th year, was established to highlight the unique charm of the region's boutique wineries. Since it's a roving festival, you'll be able to visit the winemakers' families and get a taste of the Yarra Valley's lesser-known regions.