There’s a wealth of wineries in the Yarra Valley. The first vines were planted almost 200 years ago, in 1838, making it both Victoria’s oldest wine-producing region and one of the best destinations for oenophiles to spend a weekend – there are now more than 70 wineries in the area.
With such a breadth of different offerings, it pays to go with a game plan. The Yarra is best known for pinot noir and chardonnay – two varieties you’ll rarely go wrong with here – but the cool climate also produces award-winning sparkling wines. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find great shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and lesser-known drops such as nebbiolo and gamay. Most cellar doors offer standard tastings but many also offer behind-the-scenes tours and expert sampling classes, making this a great place to improve your understanding of different wines.
Wine and food come hand-in-hand and the Yarra Valley offers an abundance of culinary experiences. Ranging from sumptuous cellar door cheese platters to impressive pub fare and high end restaurants, the community of acclaimed chefs (such as Matt Stone at Oakridge Wines) highlight ingredients sourced from family farms and artisan producers.
The best bit? The Yarra Valley is less than an hour from Melbourne so you can keep coming back until you’ve squeezed every drop of enjoyment from your journeys.
Giant Steps is one of the Yarra’s most celebrated wineries – but you don’t have to take our word for it. Since 2003, it’s collected 26 trophies and 65 gold medals at domestic and international wine shows, endorsement of the fruit being produced in single vineyards. These privately owned vineyards are the work of owner Phil Sexton, who ventured from Devil’s Lair in the Margaret River to live and work in the Yarra Valley.
Wine to try: The chardonnay and pinot noirs.
Cellar door: Tasting options start at $5 per person, with food and private dining also available. Bookings are recommended for up to groups of six.
336-364 Maroondah Highway, Healesville; (03) 5962 6111
When Seville Estate began producing wine in the early 1970s it marked the Yarra Valley’s rebirth as one of Australia’s premium wine regions. That pioneering history has established the family-run winery as one of the country’s best, earning them the title of Halliday’s 2019 Winery of the Year.
Wine to try: The Seville Estate Shiraz, which earned 99 points out of a possible 100 in the revered Halliday Wine Awards.
Cellar door: Walk-in tastings are complimentary. For groups of six or more, bookings are required and a tasting fee of $5 per person applies.
65 Linwood Road, Seville; (03) 5964 2622
Tokar Estate has gone from selling most of its wine through its cellar door to exporting internationally in recent years. It’s a rapid ascent partially down to its sustainable vineyard practices and a less-is-more approach to winemaking. The winery has been rated five stars for four consecutive years by James Halliday and picked up prizes including Best Shiraz at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards.
Wine to try: The 2017 Tempranillo.
Cellar door: The cellar door welcomes walk-ins seven days a week.
6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream; (03) 5964 9585
On a heritage site that has grown grapes since 1862, family-run Punt Road Wines makes world-class drops that reflect the site’s 160 year history. Relax with a glass and a cheese basket at the cellar door or head into the garden for a game of bocce.
Wine to try: The 2017 Block 11 Cabernet Sauvignon, named best Cabernet Sauvignon at the 2018 Yarra Valley Wine Show.
Cellar door: Small group tastings at the cellar door are free; groups of eight or more cost $10 per person.
10 St Huberts Road, Coldstream; (03) 9739 0666
A small-volume producer, Boat O’Craigo is about passion and quality. Its unique vineyards are meticulously managed and yields contained to grow premium fruit, with only the best French oak used in the winery to produce high-quality wines. The approach is working: the winery was named Dark Horse Winery Of The Year for 2018 in the James Halliday wine awards and awarded a five-star winery rating.
Wine to try: The 2015 Reserve Shiraz.
Cellar door: Open Friday to Sunday, the cellar door offers gourmet pizza’s and tasting paddles from $22 to $28.
458 Maroondah Highway, Healesville; (03) 5962 6899
DeBortoli Wines Yarra Valley
De Bortoli has been in the family for three generations, with a history that dates back to 1928. The Yarra Valley estate comprises 240 hectares of vines and produces some of the region’s best-loved chardonnays and Rieslings, as well as lesser-known varieties such as nebbiolo and gamay. There’s also the option of dining at the on-site Italian restaurant, Locale.
Wine to try: Vinoque Nebbiolo Rose.
Cellar door: $5 counter tastings with the option of upgrading to a cheese and wine pairing for $14 per person; $32.50 gourmet tastings are held in the De Bortoli Trophy Room.
58 Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek; (03) 5965 2271
A visit to the Yarra Valley winemaking home provides the opportunity to experience one of the largest ranges of premium, méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines in the country, along with a dynamic wine tourism offering, including a tasting bar, restaurant, lounge bar, tour route, retail boutique and a magnificent view over the Yarra Ranges.
Wine to try: Le Petit Chandon, a dessert-style sparkling wine only available at the cellar door.
Cellar door: $12 per person splash tasting (with $6 refundable on purchases) or book ahead for a full “Sunday School” immersion experience, where wine experts explain all there is to know about Chandon sparkling wine.
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream; (03) 9738 9200
Family-owned winery Oakridge Wines and its winemaker David Bicknell have picked up numerous accolades over the past decade for their faultless wines. But no visit is complete without a stop at the impressive Oakridge restaurant, which uses a philosophy of hyperlocal and sustainably sourced ingredients to build three-course menus starting at $85 a head.
Wine to try: Oakridge 864 Funder and Diamond, Drive Block Chardonnay.
Cellar door: Complimentary wine tasting is available without booking for groups of seven or less; larger groups must book ahead. A $20 tasting fee applies to the premium 864 range and is refundable with any 864 purchase.
864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream; (03) 9738 9900
Levantine Hill takes a rigorous approach to winemaking. To ensure only the best grapes are used, fruit is handpicked and hand sorted in batches as small as 50 kilograms. Wines are made in strictly limited qualities and are only produced in “exceptional” years – no compromises. The commitment to quality has earned Levantine Hill a raft of wine awards, including Best Australian Red Wine at the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Wine to try: The award-winning 2015 Melissa's Paddock Syrah.
Cellar door: Choose from tastings of five or 10 wines, ranging from $18 to $100 per person. Reservations are not required for parties of fewer than six.
882 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream; (03) 5962 1333
A cellar door, café, restaurant and bar in one, Innocent Bystander is a relaxed place to get acquainted with the Yarra Valley without pretension or judgement. Nibble on paella and wood-fired pizza while sipping on varieties from the Yarra and elsewhere in Victoria.
Wine to try: 2017 Mea Culpa Syrah.
Cellar door: Call ahead for groups of six or more.
316-334 Maroondah Highway, Healesville; (03) 5999 9222
When the Smedley family started Mandala Wines more than a decade ago, they wanted to celebrate simple pleasures with all who visited them. They’ve made the dream a reality with a cosy cellar door, Italian-influenced on-site restaurant and a celebrated range of wines that have earned a five-star James Halliday rating.
Wine to try: 2018 Mandala Pinot Noir.
Cellar door: Open from 10am to 5pm. Bookings accepted six days a week (closed Tuesdays). DiVino Retsurant open Wed to Sunday, Friday Saturday nights for dinner.
1568 Melba Highway, Dixons Creek; (03) 5965 2016
Rob Dolan Wines
Say hello to the Yarra Valley at Rob Dolan Wines. Set 30 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, this family- and pet-friendly winery is the perfect starting point for your trip to the vineyards. It’s situated on 40 hectares of rolling farmland, meaning there’s plenty of space to grab a bottle, select a cheese platter and settle in for a picnic.
Wine to try: The White Label Pinot Noir.
Cellar door: Bookings are required for parties of five or more and tasting fees start at $5 per person.
21-23 Delaneys Road, Warrandyte South; (03) 9876 5885
Established in 1969, Yarra Yering is one of the region’s oldest vineyards. Winemaker Sarah Crowe has many varieties to help her craft these unique wines; with some made in tiny quantities only from the cellar door. One sip and you’ll know why Crowe was named James Halliday’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year.
Wine to try: The 2016 Carrodus Cabernet, which scored an incredible 99 points in the 2019 Halliday Awards.
Cellar door: Yarra Yering offers three different tasting options, priced between $15 and $20 per person (refundable upon purchase). Groups of six or more should book ahead.
4 Briarty Road, Gruyere; (03) 5964 9267
Winemaker Jayden Ong produces only 1200 cases of wine per year at One Block, including the eponymous range, Jayden Ong, at his organically farmed, high altitude Mount Toolebewong property. The independent, artisan wine brand specialises in single vineyard sites and produces only a handful of varieties each year – making every bottle that extra bit special.
Wine to try: The 2017 Jayden Ong Chardonnay of which only 666 bottles were made.
Cellar door: The cellar door is open two days each year, usually in January. Guests visiting at other times can request an appointment via the website.
La Maison de Ong - Mount Toolebewong; 0419 186 888
The history of Yeringberg dates back 156 years and it’s one the family-run business is intent on preserving. The property’s original two-storey wooden winery and underground cellars are still intact and have been classified by the National Trust, while the fourth-generation owners focus on making premium wines intended for cellaring.
Wine to try: The Yeringberg, a unique blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot.
Cellar door: Yeringberg opens its cellar door one weekend each year, usually in October, when the new vintage wines are released.
810 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream; (03) 9739 0240
Helen & Joey Estate Yarra Valley
Set atop a hill overlooking the vineyards, a trip to Helen & Joey Estate looks as good as it tastes. Since it opened in 2010, the owners have restored some 33 hectares of vines to produce distinctive wines that range from the everyday to strictly special occasion.
Wine to try: The Alena 2015 Chardonnay picked up a dual trophy win at the Victorian Wine Show.
Cellar door: The fun and friendly cellar door offers tastings of the current range at $5 per person.
12 -14 Spring Lane, Gruyere; 1800 989 463
Yarra Valley Dairy
Wine isn’t the only thing the Yarra does well. Yarra Valley Dairy crafts artisan cheeses from both cows and goats milk, many of them in the traditional French and Italian farmhouse style.
Product to try: The Persian fetta.
Cellar door: As well as offering cheese tastings and plates, Yarra Valley Dairy stocks more than 60 varieties of premium, small-batch wines from independent winemakers.
70 – 80 McMeikans Road, Yering; (03) 9739 0023
Bird on a Wire Wines
If you’ve ever dined at the likes of Attica or Ezard, you may have already tried one of Bird On A Wire’s wines. The boutique winery exports to Melbourne’s top restaurants, with small production creating high demand for its bottles.
Wine to try: The 2015 Chardonnay or 2013 Marsanne.
Cellar door: Bird On A Wire does not offer a cellar door but sells wine directly through its website.
100 Long Gully Road, Healesville; 0439 045 000
Set among the sprawling vineyards of the Yarra Valley, the Mediterranean-style cellar door at Dominique Portet stems from 10 generations of family winemaking that dates back to 17th-century France. A stop here provides a window into the inner workings of a vineyard and winery.
Wine to try: Fontaine Rosé and André Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cellar door: Open from 10am-5pm everyday. Groups of six or more require booking.
870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream; (03) 5962 5760