Victoria – Yarra Valley – spoilt for choice for a day in the valley
By Tricia Brown
Eltham is a great place to start and end your Yarra Valley wine tour. With its Alistair Knox mudbrick architecture and village feel, Eltham has been a popular location with artists since the early 1900s and is home to beautiful Montsalvat, still used by artists today.
At the very outer edge of Melbourne there is a feeling of rural smugness for the lucky few who own houses here as the pace of life is a little slower. This is not to say there is a deficiency of sophisticated places to eat, drink and shop as although the village is small, you are spoilt for choice nearby in the Yarra Valley.
Stop 1 - Just a coffee
Start the day at Montsalvat, built in the 1930s and today still a thriving artist community resembling a small European village. The lovely gardens are worth a stroll if you have the time and there are always exhibitions worth seeing (entry fee applies). Come back another day for a delightful lunch and sit outside in the garden with a platter of local produce some of which will have been picked from their own kitchen garden. Today however just a coffee is good and if you squint at the gumtrees you can almost believe you are in France ... read more.
Open: 9am-5pm seven days. The cafe is open Tues to Fri 9.30am-4.00pm, Sat and Sun 8.30am-5pm
7 Hillcrest Avenue
Eltham VIC 3095
Tel (03) 9439 7712
Stop 2 - Something for everyone
Head for Healesville and enjoy the drive! Healesville is another leafy tranquil spot with some wonderful places to stock up your fridge, pantry and wine cellar. The Harvest Cafe, next to (and owned by) the renowned Healesville Hotel, has a great breakfast and lunch menu based on simple local produce along with extremely good coffee. Next door again and also owned by the Healesville Hotel is the providore Kitchen and Butcher which showcases a fantastic array of locally grown seasonal produce and products such as Yarra Valley Pasta, Cunliffe and Waters Jams and Kennedy and Wilson Chocolates for starters. Fabulous cured hams, local and imported cheese, olive oils and vinegars and the quality of the fresh meat in the butcher's window make it impossible not to buy something from this wonderful store. With its enticing shelves of unusual, fascinating and beautiful ingredients you will want to rush home immediately and start cooking. They also stock a large selection of delicious take home meals that come complete with recipe cards ... read more.
Open: Mon to Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm
258 Maroondah Highway
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel (03) 5962 2866
Stop 3 - Stock up
A small shop big on personal, knowledgeable customer service together with loads of enthusiasm and a tempting selection of the best wines from around the world. Whether it be fine Champagne, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish Tempranillo or the pick of the Barossa or Yarra Valley, you will find it here. The finest local wines are well represented and the cleanskin range is carefully chosen and offers great value for money. Stock up your cellar with the bargains from this delightful store. Beer and spirit lovers have not been forgotten ... read more.
Open: Mon to Thurs 11am-7.30pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12-7pm
260 Maroondah Highway
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel (03) 5962 6699
Stop 4 - A little lunch
No trip to the Yarra Valley and Healesville would be complete without a visit to the Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander cellar door and restaurant. It doesn't matter whether you are after a coffee (two blends house roasted daily) and a pastry (all cakes, pastries and bread made daily on the premises), a little light lunch or a celebratory dinner, Giant Steps has achieved the impossible and is outstanding in all things. The food here is simply delicious and the atmosphere of this popular place is noisy and fun. The most popular wood-fired pizza uses their own sourdough base simply topped with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil - some say it is the best pizza outside of Italy! Add a glorious cheese room, a fantastic cellar door, enthusiastic, energetic staff and it is no surprise that they won The Age Good Food Guide 2009 inaugural award for Best Winery Restaurant ... read more.
Open: Mon to Fri 10am-10pm and on Sat & Sun from 8am for breakfast
336 Maroondah Highway
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel (03) 5962 6111
Stop 5 - A flight of fancy
On the drive back to Eltham, call in at Domaine Chandon rather than drive right past. Everything here spells class from the beautifully kept gardens down to the roses in the vineyard and the delightful views. Most importantly, their range of sparkling wines is superb. Order a tasting flight of bubbles which comes with a complimentary tasters plate of regional produce (light lunches also available). Getting to sample all the sparkling varieties is a wonderfully decadent way to end any day in the Yarra Valley. The tasting flight consists of four half glasses of their most popular sales of sparkling wines and starts with the Vintage Brut, then Vintage Brut Rosé, Sparkling Pinot Shiraz and ends with the lushish Cuvée Riche. Take home a bottle of your favourite for a special occasion or better still, buy a mixed half case which has some of each ... read more.
Open: Daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm
'Green Point', Maroondah Highway
Coldstream VIC 3770
Tel (03) 9738 9200
Stop 6 - Dinner
End the day back in Eltham with an eat in or take away meal from the wonderful local Indian restaurant Ginger Garlic. This restaurant blends traditional Indian cooking with some interesting twists and offers consistently good food. This is no ordinary Indian restaurant although you will wonder if you are in the right place when you see the low key 1970s interior with its pine furniture but the food speaks for itself. You will be greeted by friendly staff and cheery regulars - if you can get a table that is! If you can't decide what to have, then no problem. Just ask them to recommend something. You won't be disappointed ... read more.
Open: Thurs 12-2pm, Tues to Sun 5pm-11pm
Shop 9, 9 Dudley Street
Eltham VIC 3095
Tel (03) 9439 4423
- Melbourne Surrounds (VIC)
- Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)
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