Envisioning a visit to Melbourne, I pictured drinking loads of flat whites, having avo toast for brekkie daily, road tripping the Great Ocean Road, and wandering the city in search of vibrant, street art.
When friends of ours, who live in Melbourne, suggested we take a day trip to the Yarra Valley together, one of Australia’s top wine producing regions, I was surprised.
Great wine in Oz?
Sure, I knew Southern Australia boasts great vineyards, but I didn’t realize the same could be said for Victoria, and so close to Melbourne.
It literally feels like, one minute you’re in suburbia, and the next, you’re surrounding by rolling hills and vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Why Visit the Yarra Valley?
Whether you spend one day or several in the region, the Yarra Valley has a lot to offer.
The Yarra Valley’s accessibility in and of itself makes it appealing. Adding to that, there are plenty excellent wineries and cideries, as well as spas, hikes and other places to stop.
When planning out our day, the hardest part was determining where we wanted to visit- so many places and things sounded intereting.
How to Get to the Yarra Valley
We rented a car for the first week of our stay in Melbourne from a budget agency at the airport.
For an entire week we paid about ~£80, which proved to be an absolute steal, considering day tours to the likes of the Yarra Valley and Great Ocean Road (two places we planned on visiting) run £100+ per person.
Plus, there’s something to be said for having the flexibility to stop anywhere you want, and have your day go as you’d like.
That said though, if you are visiting the Yarra Valley and planning to self-drive, make sure you designate a driver.
While the region is close to the city, it’s never okay to drink and drive.
If everyone you’re visiting with wants to participate in tastings, then a tour may be the best option.
I’d heard good things about Epicuren Tours to the Yarra Valley, and we briefly weighed benefits of taking one.
In the end, we decided two of us would drink very little (think: single sip of wine per tasting) in the Valley, and instead, bring a few ciders and bottles of wine home to try during a cosy night in post-full day of exploring.
Top Picks for What to Do with One Day in the Yarra Valley
When we visited the Yarra Valley, we left Melbourne fairly early- around 8 am to have brekkie at The Kettle Black.
Full from delicious avo toast and pancakes, we grabbed flat whites to go and started on our way.
From the cafe we were at, it took just over an hour to reach our first stop on non-toll roads.
In the evening, we took toll roads back to the city since I had to be back to work, and the time estimate was much quicker on Google Maps than other routes.
I’ve mentioned there’s loads more to do in the Yarra Valley than just winery hop, and our first stop reflected that- the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery.
Ice cream and chocolate in a beautiful location, what could be better?
We enjoyed tasting the chocolate samples out for display, and ogling the dozens of chocolate varieties and products available in the shop.
The ice cream is the real showstopper here though. Even though it was winter, I’m never one to say no to ultra creamery mint chocolate chip.
During the time we visited, the Chocolaterie was also holding its annual hot chocolate festival- which is month long and offers a changing menu of whacky and delicious hot chocolates to try each week.
Next up, we visited three wineries- Moet & Chandon’s famous production house, Oakridge, and Helen & Joey.
Moet’s grounds are stunning- they’re expansive with gorgeous vistas. Here, we tried a sparkling wine flight, which included a few varieties only available in Australia. Hello, sparkling shiraz, I love you.
Tastings were affordable at $6 AUD per flight, an awesome, ‘don’t break the bank’ option for tasting high quality wines. And, an even better deal if you’re sharing among a group 😉
Yarra Valley’s 80-plus wineries are famous for their chardonnay and pinot noir, so next, we travelled to Oakridge.
Known for their great pinot noirs, chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons, Oakridge is a beautifully designed winery.
Recently, Oakridge has been hailed in Aussie press for being a winery dining destination. And while their menu looked incredible, it was far beyond the reach of our backpacker budget.
Following Oakridge, we headed over to Helen & Joey, a stunning estate where roos are known for hanging out.
The best part about Helen & Joey, besides the roos, in my opinion?
Its delectable wine and cheese pairings. If you’re a fan of pinor noirs or shirazs, as I am, you’ll enjoy a tasting here.
To end our visit in the region, we hit up the place I’d been most excited to visit- Napoleone Cidery. For $12 AUD, we shared a paddle of four cider samples- apple, apple and pear, pear, and sherry and apple. The sherry and apple was absolutely delicious, as was the apple and pear mix.
As with elsewhere in the Yarra Valley, the grounds here are gorgeous. Napoleone is great spot to while away an afternoon, sipping cider and playing card games with friends. Iff you love their ciders as much as we did, they’re available for takeaway.
Other Things to Check Out in The Yarra Valley
If you have more time, we had loads more wineries, and things recommended to us-
- Yering Station Farmers Market: We’d heard this is one of the area’s best markets, held in the stunning Yering Bar, and featuring a selection of local produce. Check dates before you visit, but believe it happens the third Sunday of every month
- The Beechworth Bakery: Hailed for having yummy pies, sausage rolls, cakes and bread
- Badger Weir: Beautiful picnic grounds
- De Bortoli Winery: Famed for being Australia’s number one dessert wine, you’ll find delicious wine and cheese tastings on offer here
Have you ever been to Melbourne? If you’re a wine aficionado, is the Yarra Valley on your list of regions to visit in the world?
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