The coronavirus has hit the city of Melbourne hard but the Victorian wine regions haven’t missed a beat – clearly wine making is an essential service. Victoria has over 20 separate wine regions, all within a few hours drive of the city.
Remember the last time we were granted freedom from lockdown? All we wanted to do is get out of the city and into the fresh air. The hills and valleys of the Victorian wine regions will be waiting and are the perfect antidote to being cooped up inside for the next few weeks. It’s well known that having something to look forward to is good for our mental health so now is the right time to plan a post lockdown winery tour with friends and family.
Our regional areas are beautiful in early spring, when there are calves and lambs in the paddocks and wildflowers blooming. Indulge in all the delights of the country during your chauffeur driven jaunt to the Victorian wine region of your choice.
Not even an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is famous for its cool climate varietals; pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling wine. Head for Healesville and do a tasting at Innocent Bystander. The sommeliers really know their pinots from their rieslings and will talk you through every aspect of their wines, so this is a true learning experience.
Combine your wine with art appreciation at Yering Station Winery. The tasting room doubles as a gallery space and the grounds are dotted with interesting works of art. The farmers market is also held here on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
There’s nothing better than pairing your favourite wine with a good cheese. Stop in at Yarra Valley Dairy for a tasting platter of their farmhouse artisan cheeses, made in the traditional French and Italian style, and a drop of wine from their collection. Goats wander in the paddock beyond the windows, and the restaurant buzzes with other connoisseurs of fine food and wine.
Famous for cool climate varietals like pinot noir and chardonnay, the Mornington Peninsula is also producing quality pinot gris and tempranillo. You can combine your winery tour with a visit to the Peninsula Hot Springs or an afternoon beach stroll.
Book lunch at Polperro Winery and relax overlooking the vineyards as you dine on exquisite food. The chefs pick their ingredients fresh from their kitchen garden. Polperro Winery also offers visitors a private picnic experience. Collect your hamper from the restaurant and find a pretty spot to spread your blanket.
Ten Minutes by Tractor produces some of the finest pinot noir on the peninsula. Grapes are sourced from different vineyards in the region, all within ten minutes drive by tractor, hence the winery’s name. There is a spacious cellar door where sommeliers showcase the best of the collection. If fine dining appeals, book in here for lunch and enjoy the white tablecloths, five star service and divine bush views.
A visit to the Montalto cellar door offers so much more than just premium quality wine tasting. The property boasts an orchard, an olive grove and a sculpture trail with 30 permanent sculptures dotted through the landscape. Taste the pinot noir and chardonnay at the cellar door, take a behind the scenes tour which demonstrates Montalto’s wine making process or dine on a gourmet meal in the pretty courtyard.
Bendigo and Heathcote
A bit further afield, the Victorian goldfields now hold a different type of treasure. The first grapes were planted in this region in the 1850s, after the gold rush, and the sunny summer season is ideal for growing robust grapes, perfect for shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. You can also find chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc and sangiovese in the area.
Balgownie Estate Winery and Retreat is Bendigo’s oldest winery. Visit the historic cellar door and taste the full range of wines (including their white label shiraz) or sit on the picturesque terrace overlooking the vines to wine and dine. Sutton Grange Winery is another famous winery in the Bendigo area and a fabulous place for a Sunday picnic.
Heathcote winery, Sanguine Estate, has an award winning cellar door experience. The region is famous for its Shiraz and this winery has received dozens of awards for its fine wines.
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