We explore the Yarra Valley region – taste the wine, check out the cellar doors, sample the food and bed down for the night. By Kate Barracosa and Peter Bourne.
Matt Stone’s superb food is a worthy accompaniment to David Bicknell’s terrific wines at Oakridge, a cellar door, wine bar and restaurant rolled into one.
The ghost of winery founder Dr Bailey Carrodus resides at this simple cellar door, his vinous legacy continued by the irrepressible Sarah Crowe.
This showpiece winery/tasting room/restaurant sits alongside the original Chateau Yering homestead, now a five-star hotel with a gracious, old-world feel.
The Yarra’s coolest winemaker operates Graceburn Wine Room, a hip cellar door that’s not in the vineyard but can be found in the township of Healesville.
The Besen family’s wines are wonderful, the outlook from their tasting room is perfectly picturesque and the TarraWarra Museum of Art is an absolute must.
For breakfast and coffee
Hutch & Co
The third venture from former finance-industry guys Nick Panagopoulos and Rob Salha, Hutch & Co in the Yarra Valley’s south is the perfect pit stop for those travelling from Melbourne. Using local produce whenever possible, the menu is an all-day affair so you can order eggs on toast in various incarnations or the Southern Fried Chicken Burger at any time. The Sharing Board for two is a go-to for the indecisive – it even comes with a small serve of decadent white-chocolate bread-and-butter pudding. Coffee is roasted on site.
249-251 Main Street, Lilydale
Ezard At Levantine Hill
Designed by the hatted restaurant’s chef, Teage Ezard, the four- and seven-course dégustation menus with matching Levantine Hill wines are meticulously crafted. The menu changes seasonally but at present, there are enticing dishes such as goat's curd capelletti with golden raisins, pine nuts and verjuice and Yeringberg lamb with green tomato, sweet onion and nasturtium. Set aside at least two hours for four courses or, if you’re pushed for time, opt for the more casual all-day menu available in another part of the restaurant.
882 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream ￼
Oscar's on the Yarra
The restaurant at this gorgeous homestead draws on regional produce, so expect local lamb (cooked for 10 hours and served with preserved lemon), rainbow trout (with almond cream and greens) and sourdough made locally. If the weather permits, book a table outside to watch the river meander by as you linger over dessert or just one more glass of wine.
3185 Warburton Highway, Warburton; (03) 5966 9166
Where to Stay
The Farmhouse at Meletos
Lemongrass. It’s the first thing your senses register when you walk through the door, thanks to a tiny oil burner at reception that wafts the scent through the building. The Farmhouse is located on the Meletos estate, which includes a café, a restaurant and events space and new store The Providore, and is set beside sister property Stones of the Yarra Valley. Owners Steve and Vonnie Frazer added the 23-room accommodation two years ago. Ask for a suite at the back: the gunmetal-grey shutters on each of the Juliet balconies open to views of the vineyards and a distant mountain. Grab a book and a glass of wine and retreat to one of the brown leather sofas by the fireplace in the communal lounge area. The fire burns throughout the day.
12 St Huberts Road, Coldstream
￼The Willow House and Habitat House, renovated a few years ago by Karen Dickson and landscape designer Greg Palmer, are equipped with everything you need for a cosy night in: gas heaters that spread warmth throughout each cottage, a fully equipped kitchen and a garden filled with fruit and herbs that guests are encouraged to make use of. The grounds surrounding the self-contained two-bedroom houses have been carefully designed to encourage meditative wanderings, with a wooden footbridge over tiny Piccaninny Creek and plenty of places to sit down with a cup of tea. If you’re wondering what’s growing outside your bedroom window, just look down: there are small signs beside many of the larger plants.
Chalet Road, Badger Creek
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa
￼If relaxation is what you’re looking for, treat yourself to a Privilege Spa Suite, where views extend across the sprawling grounds of this 70-room resort (and you can watch TV from the tub through a curved glass wall). Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, steam room and gym, as well as a restaurant and cellar door. There’s also a 1.6-kilometre walking track behind the property. ￼
1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen