Cellar door… One of the most beautiful phrases in the English language. Not because of the phonaesthetics or that Drew Barrymore told us that in Donnie Darko, but because it almost always equals wine.
Here in Victoria we are lucky enough to share the state with over 600 wineries. What’s even better is that many of these winemakers invite both savvy B rookies and wine enthusiasts alike to learn about their craft, taste their products, and explore their properties.
It is little wonder that Victorian’s are often accused of being wine snobs with so many quality drops right on our doorstep. From the internationally-renowned wines produced in the Yarra Valley to the top shelf drops from the rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula, there’s a wine and winery for everybody.
Here are a couple of wineries you may or may not have heard of, but should definitely take a day off to visit.
Less than an hours drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley produces some of Australia’s best pinot noir, sparkling, and cool climate wines.
38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
If you are planning to dabble in the Yarra Valley winery scene, Yering Station is a must. Located right in the heart of the Yarra Valley, it is the oldest vineyard in the region. First planted in 1838, Yering Station continues to attract both local and international visitors, from tourists to wine enthusiasts to rookies who just appreciate a good drop.
The sheer size of the estate is breathtaking, with perfectly manicured lawns stretching as far as the eye can see. Juxtaposed against the modern restaurant is the historic architecture. The heritage of the property is still important and features heavily throughout the estate. But Yering Station is not stuck in the past. They have successfully bridged the gap between old and new, respecting the history and aged-old techniques, but adding their own style and sophistication.
Head to the Yering cellar door, which was the early winery building, and have a knowledgeable staff member talk you through the full range of wines. There’s multiple options available depending on your budget, but if you’ve got the time, indulge in the premium private wine tasting. For $30 you’ll taste five wines from the Yering Station ‘Reserve’ and ‘Esate’ collections over the course of an hour , accompanied with cheese plates, and a ending with a glass of wine of your choice.
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
Established in 1986 by French champagne house Moet & Chandon, the famous Domaine Chandon is the big dog of the Yarra Valley. The consistently quality crowd-pleasing product is what has made this big-name cellar door so successful. The breath taking scenery of Victoria’s mountains doesn’t hurt, either.
Learn everything and more about French Champagne with the self-guided tour before you head to the cellar door. Open every day from 10.30 until 4.30pm, and with a tasting bar open the same hours, it would be rude not to try a few drops. As you gaze over the vineyards and verdant hills through the floor to ceiling windows, taste the many wines that Chandon has on offer, including several products that you can’t buy anywhere else. There’s a small tasting fee, but that is refundable on any purchase, and you’re going to want to take a few bottles home after trying their wines.
The lush countryside provides the perfect backdrop to Green Brasserie, the wineries European style restaurant. Settle in on the terrace for a long lunch, accompanied of course by Chandon wines.
Go ahead and broaden your wine horizons and try the sparkling with orange bitters, giving the classic Aperol Spritz a run for its money.
957 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen
Boasting some of the best views in the Yarra Valley that make it such a popular wedding destination, Zonzo Estate is not just reserved for saying ‘I do’. 45 acres of vines provide a stunning backdrop to the large areas of lush green lawn, giving children with space to play.
Authentic Italian food is served the traditional Italian way; long share tables with dishes placed in the centre for a more casual dining experience than your usual winery restaurant.
This kid-friendly winery means Mum and Dad can have a glass of wine in the countryside while the kids run wild. It also mean there’s a chance you’ll be seated on the large tables next to children, but with wood-fire pizza to keep you and them busy, you won’t mind.
Besides the quality food and wine, the exceptional service and attention to detail is what keeps visitors returning time and time again.
Verdant hinterland, perfect beaches, and more than 50 boutique cellar doors and wineries.
150 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill
Opening in 2014, Polperro is relatively new to the scene. This boutique winery is situated over 25 acres in the heart of Victoria’s famous wine region, Red Hill.
Polperro aims to create quality product that is the result of a collaboration between vineyard and kitchen, winemaker and chef. And bistro is proof that they have pulled it off. The restaurant’s refreshing laid-back approach to drinking and dining incorporates seasonal harvests and local produce in its contemporary menu. Of course, like all great food, the dishes are best accompanied by a great drop, with Polperro and Even Keel wines available. The staff are professional and accommodating, perfectly capturing the calmness of country living.
Bistro aside, there is of course a cellar door presenting a number of wines under both the Polperro and Even Keel labels. There’s also accommodation availability on the property, with four modern studio apartment overlooking the wines available to extend your visit.
With ancient Angophora trees throughout the property, Polperro Winery is pretty hard to fault.
44 Paringa Road, Red Hill South
Pinot lovers rejoice! Just five minutes down the road from Polperro in the heart of Mornington Peninsula’s wine region is Paringa Estate. Established in 1985 by owner and winemaker Linsday McCall, Paringa Esate is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates a good red.
The cellar door, open from 11am until 5pm each day, showcases their iconic wines, including the award winning pinot noir and shiraz, which you can taste for free on the weekends.
On the property next to the immaculate vineyard is the restaurant. In 2013, it was awaraded with an Age Good Food Guide Chefs Hat, which is has retained each year since. Treat yourself to the 8 Course Tasting Menu to feast on the constantly changing European menu as you take in the multi-million dollar views. The deco is simple and inviting, with the gaggle of geese that wander the property adding a touch of fun to the class.
54-56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte
Only 23km out of Melbourne is Warrandyte’s picturesque boutique winery Olivigna. Opening in 2014, Olivigna has been 20 years in the making by husband and wife duo John Di Pietro and Anna Gallo.
As you walk the cobblestone piazza and take in the Mediterranean landscape of their stunning 20 acre property, you’ll feel as if you are in the Italian countryside.
But it doesn’t stop at the scenery. You can take an Italian cooking class from the masters behind the winerys restaurant La Sala, play bocce besides the olive grove and citrus orchard, and shop for their homemade pastas, breads, and preserves. You can also take home a bottle of Anna’s homemade lemoncello for $60.
By Madeline Wallman