Less than a one hour drive from Melbourne is the Yarra Valley. Established more than 170 years ago, the Yarra is Victoria's oldest wine region. Today, the Yarra Valley is home to some of the country's most celebrated and experienced producers. The varieties that thrive in the cool-climate region include chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz, and cabernet sauvignon.
With more than 80 wineries in the premier region, here are four cellar doors not to be missed on your next trip to the Yarra Valley.
Yering StationYering Station has been core to the Yarra Valley wine story for almost two centuries. The winery's site was home to the very first plantings in the state of Victoria in 1838 – marking the establishment of the wine region.
Housed in the original winery building c.1859, the heritage cellar door brims with rustic charm and original finishes – from exposed, white-washed brick to towering wooden beams. If you look closely, you'll spot historic treasured items including centuries-old wine bottles that were found buried under the building, and have since inspired the bottles Yering Station use today.
After a tasting, guests can enjoy a memorable dining experience in the signature restaurant. Feast on local produce while you overlook the breathtaking Yarra Ranges.
Within the region are lots of gently undulating hills that provide multiple aspects for Yering Station's five vineyards. The easterly and southerly are cooler, while the westerly and northerly are warmer and capture more afternoon sun. Planting varieties across these various sites, combined with changes in soil type – alluvial loam and red volcanic – provides an enormous number of variables.
From each block harvested the Yering Station team aim to make a wine that best represents each site in each vintage. The different parcels, each with their own unique expressions, are pieced together into a blend that is complex and balanced to represent the best picture of variety, region and year.
Local favourite spot: We love Barrique Wine Store based in the heart of Healesville’s precinct. Independently owned, they spotlight the best of the region’s wine offering and regularly host winemaker tastings.
Find out more | 38 Melba Highway, Yering | (03) 9730 0100
Warramunda EstateWarramunda Estate is a family-owned and operated winery that was established in 2007. At the Warramunda cellar door guests can taste quality wines that are made with sustainable practices in mind. The cellar door is warm and homely, so guests can relax and enjoy the local delights of Warramunda Estate (the winery is also dog-friendly).
The intimate cellar door, which opened in 2014, offers a variety of tasting options including cheese and charcuterie platters, tasting plates, and the winter favourite – barbecue smoked black Angus brisket.
In 2015 Warramunda Estate debuted its label Liv Zak Wines, which is led by winemaker Liv Zak Magdziarz. Liv says at Warramunda there is a focus on the region’s unique geology. "In 2007 we began our work planting new, and tending to established vines, before producing our first Warramunda Estate vintage in 2013."
When it comes to vines, the Coldstream site covers sixty-five acres and the vineyard consists of chardonnay, viognier, marsanne, pinot noir, syrah and cabernet sauvignon plantings – along with later additions of cabernet franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, which are blended with cabernet sauvignon to make the signature Warramunda cabernets.
The team employ sustainable viticulture, which combines the practice of organic and biodynamic philosophies to create elegant, vibrant and premium wines that express the unique land on which they are made, the skill of the winemaking team and the quality of the fruit.
Local favourite spot: The Stables at Stones for special occasions and Meletos for a more casual, great food experience. We also love Steeles Gate, and the RACV Club (whether you’re a golfer or just looking for great food and wine). Badger Creek is a great place to go for a picnic and platypus sightings.
Find out more | 860 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream | 0455 518 067
Payne's RiseSet in the surrounds of an 1860s homestead, the Payne's Rise cellar door is rich in history, charm and character. Visitors can enjoy fine wines while taking in the expansive views of the Yarra Valley. Spend time on the sprawling lawns, relax over indoor and outdoor dining experiences complete with fireside settings.
The cellar door has been renovated to create a dedicated space for intimate wine tastings that offer guests an uninterrupted opportunity to learn about the wines and history of the winery. The recent refurbishment includes a new kitchen and an expanded lunch menu. Guests can dine from the seasonal menu paired with a selection of award-winning, cool-climate, single vineyard wines. The space also caters to large functions in the extended dining area and the Elm Room.
Owner and vigneron Tim Cullen says the vineyard and wines continue to evolve. "After growing vines on our unique little property in Seville for 20 years, we have learned how to best harness the expression of site. Our vineyard has a clear voice and our winemaking aims to capture that voice. Our site can nurture the early ripening varieties of chardonnay and pinot noir and the later ripening reds of shiraz and cabernet. We produce elegant, restrained, cool-climate wines."
The vineyard sits on a north-facing slope of Seville in the Upper Yarra Valley region. An area that experiences cooler average temperatures than the northern and central regions of the Valley – due to its higher elevation. The soil type is a deep and fertile red volcanic light clay soil, and the climate provides a very slow (though even) fruit ripening period. These aspects are each reflected in the intense fruit characters from the area.
Local favourite spot: When entering the Yarra Valley from Melbourne, take the right turn to the lesser known route of the Warburton Hwy through the Upper Yarra Valley. There's so much to explore – from family owned wineries and cafes to great bike rides, walks and the historic township of Warburton.
Find out more | 10 Paynes Road, Seville | (03) 5964 2504
Medhurst WinesLocated in the centre of the Yarra Valley – on the western edge of the Warramate Hills – a winding driveway leads guests to the architecturally designed Medhurst cellar door. Take part in a wine tasting overlooking the vineyards, dine from from the ever-changing menu – which has been designed to perfectly match the Medhurst wines – all while basking in the stunning grounds and vista.
Inside the cellar door is a warm and modern space with high vaulted ceilings, and earthy elements of timber, concrete, glass and steel.
Medhurst is home to a single 15ha vineyard in the Gruyere sub-region of the Yarra Valley. In the heart of the Yarra Valley with rolling hills perfectly suited to the premier varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and sauvignon blanc.
The site was carefully selected by owners Ross and Robyn Wilson who wanted to highlight the particular geography and climate. Located in the shadow of the Warramate ranges, the vineyard sits on 500-million-year-old duplex grey clay (with the odd ironstone deposit), at 90–200m altitude.
When it comes to making wine in the Yarra, winemaker Simon Steele says there's an important balance in the region. "I love the dappled light and shadows during ripening that enables the grapes to mature on the vine slowly. The perfect amount of nature and human intervention is found in the region, and there's so many talented people to bounce ideas around with."
Local favourite spot: Our favourite spots in the Yarra Valley include Tarrawarra Museum of Art – you simply cant miss the world-class architecture and exhibits – Meletos for outstanding food matched with Medhurst wines, and we also recommend a visit to the Maroondah Reservoir park.
Find out more | 24–26 Medhurst Road, Gruyere | (03) 5964 9022