I had first learnt about Yarra Valley when I was in hotel management school but I must confess that reading about it in college and actually being there are two incomparable experiences! writes Jyoti Balani
Left: The Chateau Yering Historic House which dates back to 1854 and is a heritage property
Yarra valley is located only 45 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD (central business district), and has vast rows of vines, mountain ash forests and tones of local produce. This valley consists of more than 50 award winning wineries with astounding cellar doors as well as outstanding restaurants that dish up sumptuous food to complement all that great wine. Apart from this Yarra Valley also offers lavish accommodation, touring services and iconic scenery.
While in the Yarra Valley, we stayed in Chateau Yering Historic House which dates back to 1854 and is a heritage listed property set among beautiful historic gardens. Spread over 250 acres and bordering the Yarra River, the property has breathtaking views of the Valley and surrounding areas. The Chateau’s two restaurants Eleonore’s and Sweetwater Café offer excellent cuisine, skillfully prepared and complemented by outstanding Yarra Valley wines from the historic cellar.
Right: Way to Tasting Room and Chandon Lawn Bar
During our stay in Chateau Yering, we were taken on a hot air balloon flight. We flew for approximately an hour over the beautiful Yarra Valley and its vineyards, drifting gently over the countryside in a beautiful hot air balloon arranged by Global Ballooning. Melbourne is one of the few cities in the world that can be traversed by hot air balloon, and offers a unique and spectacular way to see the city! Our guides told us that taking a flight in the Yarra Valley not only supports the vital tourism flow in the region following the recent bush fires, but also allows passengers to experience many of regional Victoria’s wonders. Those who book a winery tour package, get to visit two of the most sought after labels in this region-Domaine Chandon and De Bortoli wineries after a flight on the balloon. It was quite an adventure watching the balloon being inflated and then attached to the basket. The view from above was picturesque and we could see rows and rows of sprawling vineyards.
Domaine Chandon is the Australian winery of French Champagne giant Moet & Chandon. This winery is stylishly done up and provides one of the valley’s most interesting experiences. We were led through the winery by Tasting Bar Manager Christopher Reeves who informed us that this winery produces some of the country’s finest sparkling wines. We sampled Chandon Vintage Brut 2006, Chandon Vintage Brut Rose 2006, Chandon Sparkling Pinot Shiraz and Chandon Cuvee Riche in the Green Point room amidst picturesque scenery and later proceeded to Yering station for a hearty lunch. Yering Station Vineyards is in the heart of the Yarra Valley and succeeds in offering the best in wine, food and service.
Our next stop in Yarra valley was De Bortoli Winery which was established in 1928 and is a family run business. We were informed by their Hospitality and Tourism manager Brett Stanley that they have a tradition of sharing good wine, good food and good times with family and friends. Located towards the top of the hill overlooking the vineyard, the restaurant and cellar door sales area offers splendid views of the Yarra Valley and the landscaped gardens surrounding the building. The award winning restaurant’s atmosphere is stylish and inviting and the cuisine inspired with a Northern Italian influence. We tried several of their award winning wines in the tasting room. Ideally one needs a week to visit most first rate cellar doors in this region, but our trip was more designed for a quick cellar door sampler and in that short period of time, we certainly made the most of it !