Our DIY Yarra Valley Wine Tour
A few months ago myself, two friends, and my dear darling partner (who so generously came as our designated driver!) went on a day trip to the Yarra Valley to visit some wineries.
It started because I was doing a little bit of research for my birthday and about the possibility of doing a wine tour with my friends. My idea was to hire a bus or a minivan and self-drive rather than booking a guided tour. So I started to try map out some of the possible routes to get the most out of the day.
But after a few days absorbed in reading reviews, and plotting a course on Google map, I decided I really wanted to go and check out some of these places. Not just to see if they’re somewhere I’d want to visit for my birthday, but because I thought it might be fun to write about them. Plus I’d put so much work into the plan that I wanted to do it regardless of whether or not we went ahead with it for my birthday (Which we are not. The weather got cold, so my motivation for going places dropped significantly!)
The hardest part of putting together this plan was actually prioritising which wineries to visit. Because there are just SO many. So many. My initial plan had 10 wineries, but obviously unless we intended on only spending 15 minutes per venue we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in on one day. So we cut that number in half, and worked out a reasonable route between them all.
Actually as it turned out we went to five very different styles of wineries as well, so the whole day was an incredible experience.
Firstly we went to Kellybrook Winery, which was a very cosy little winery. The cellar door was a renovated old house, which gave is a very comfortable, homey vibe. And it had beautiful cottage gardens to explore. The wine was all on the light and sweet side – which made it a perfect winery to start with. And the cider was absolutely incredible. We also enjoyed putting together a cheese and meat platter from the local produce also sold at the cellar door.
Yering Station was one of our favourite wineries from the day and is an absolute must do if you’re visiting wineries in the Yarra Valley. Yering Station is actually the oldest winery in the Yarra Valley. The estate is huge, with immaculate lawns and gardens that surround a beautifully balanced combination of old and new buildings. The service at Yering Station was absolutely amazing and the wine was fantastic.
Yering Farm was one of the smallest of the wineries we visited, but absolutely adorable. The simple lawn, surrounded by paddocks, with the old converted barn as the venue was charming. Although though wines were all very floral which didn’t suit the taste of our group – we lean towards drier, crisper wines – it was still a fun experience.
Punt Road Winery (Honourable Mention!)
So it was VERY busy when we went to Punt Road Winery and there was absolutely no way we could push through the sea of bodies to get to the bar in hopes of having a wine tasting. HOWEVER the outdoors at Punt Road proved very entertaining. They had bocce and giant Jenga blocks and a great lawn for sitting back and having a peaceful drink. Provided you could get to the bar for service. I really hope we can get back to Punt Road some day to actually try the wine.
We were MOST excited about going to Domaine Chandon because Chandon is what we usually drink at home. So it was thrilling just to be where the magic happens and see the vineyard. Domaine Chandon is a stunningly beautiful estate with a visitor centre full of information about the wines and the winemaking process. The service was more like bar service than a wine tasting, though they were also very busy so they didn’t have time to talk us through each wine in detail. Though unsurprisingly the wine was absolutely amazing.
I would really like to re-visit Helen’s Hill as well some time because we were all a bit weary, and a bit tipsy, by the time we arrived at our fifth and last winery for the day. Though the wine was thoroughly enjoyable, and the service was one of the best we experienced for the day, our wine tasting notes were dismal at best. Despite my poor note taking skills, Helen’s Hill was my favourite winery of the day.
Self Driving vs Taking A Tour
We had such good time. And also a fair amount of shenanigans. Which is all part of the fun and adventure. It was an incredible day traipsing around the Yarra Valley. The Yarra Valley is such a beautiful place to visit. The drive itself was worth it even without the wine just to see the picturesque landscapes of rolling hills and endless farms.
The only thing I’d add it next time we wouldn’t self-drive it. I think it was a little unfair having a designated driver. Next time we will book one of the many Yarra Valley wine tours so that my partner can enjoy a drop of wine with us as well.