The Yarra Valley is known for its fine wines – especially chardonnay and pinot noir. Take in the landscape from the sky or on horseback and sample as much local produce as you can.
DO Surprise someone special with an early-morning flight over the lush countryside with Global Ballooning. The expert pilots know this region like the back of their hand and can point out all the places of interest, before landing you safely for a champagne breakfast. A unique way to explore some of the vineyards and cellar doors is on a three-hour ride with Horseback Winery Tours.
EAT AND DRINK Head for lunch at Healesville Hotel (256 Maroondah Highway, +61 3 5962 4002), a classic country pub with hearty, fine fare created with local produce – including from its own kitchen garden and butcher. Tuck into roasted beetroot salad with pickled onions, fromage frais and fried sage or crispy-skin salmon with asparagus and steamed new potatoes. Taste some of De Bortoli’s (Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek, +61 3 5965 2271) wines, including its famed Noble One Botrytis Semillion, before heading to its restaurant Locale, with Italian leanings and a good vegetarian menu. Those with a sweet tooth should stop by Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery (35 Old Healesville Road, Yarra Glen, +61 3 9730 2777), where you can indulge in decadent desserts from the cafe or take home a box of handcrafted choccies – there are more than 250 varieties, so make it a big box.
STAY The graceful and historic Chateau Yering (42 Melba Highway, Yering, +61 3 9237 3333) is set among 100 hectares of rolling farmland, vineyards and lush gardens. Its 32 suites are classically styled with antique pieces and claw-foot bathtubs. You can stroll to the vineyard, play a game of tennis, take a dip in the pool and dine at the Sweetwater Cafe or Eleonore’s Restaurant, where fine dining meets the best produce of the region.
GET THERE The Yarra Valley is just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD.