Wandering wineries with wild wombats – in Victoria's Yarra Valley wine country »

Try saying that at the end of the day!

By Kerry Scambler
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Yarra Valley - Meyers Creek Cascades  - accommodation amongst the ferns

Yarra Valley - Meyers Creek Cascades - accommodation amongst the ferns [©Meyers Creek Cascades]

Yarra Valley - Meyers Creek Cascades - view from the spa
Yarra Valley - Hanrahan VIneyard view
Yarra Valley - Wine Tour Tipples
Yarra Valley - Hanrahan Vineyard cellar door

 

The Yarra Valley is brimming with wineries (around 160) so with only one full day in the region, a winery tour with someone who knows where to find the best service and range is perfect. And after spending a morning at Healesville Sanctuary, it felt less unusual that the wine tour operator is called Wild Wombat Winery Tours!

To start our Victorian Road Trip, we spent two nights in the Yarra Valley and had three great experiences:

  • accommodation at Meyers Creek Cascades
  • a morning at Healesville Sanctuary and
  • a Wild Wombat winery tour. 

The latter really is a combination of enjoyable experiences!

Healesville Sanctuary

A cool, overcast day in late November made for comfortable meandering around the bushland site. The animals were all out and active with the ironic exception of the Tasmanian Devil – we even saw usually stationary koalas on the move! 

The platypus keeper’s talk was done from a tank with this amazing creature busily swimming around the keeper’s hands – who would have thought they loved having their tummies tickled! 

Another highlight was the Spirits of the Sky, a presentation by the majestic birds of prey and distinctive parrots. 

Tip: get there early to beat the crowds but check the website first for times of any presentations you particularly want to see.

 

Meyers Creek Cascades  self-contained cabins

It doesn’t get better than relaxing with a glass of sparkling wine, water tinkling in the stream outside and the view from the spa bath wrapping you in bushland with only ferns and eucalypts for neighbours.

Follow that with local steak on the BBQ with fresh salad and a red wine to suit, excellent company of course and you realise it just got better!

Tip: make the most of your forest hideaway and self-cater. If arriving in Healesville on a weekend, check for butchers' opening hours.

 

And then there were the wineries….

We hadn’t thought of wine tours (or wild wombats) until we booked Meyers Creek Casades where it was offered as an indulgent addition to the stay. Small group and pick up from accommodation – we love easy!

The drive to the first winery was relatively short and took us through the back roads.  Being close to the 10th anniversary of the Black Saturday fires we marvelled at the recovery of the forests then fell silent as Elaine, our guide, put a personal perspective on what it was like for locals over those days and months. It gave us great insight and respect for those we met throughout the day.

 

Boat O’Craigo

It was a lovely start to our day at this family-owned boutique vineyard with its huge cellar door windows opening up the view across the vines to the hills. The wines certainly lived up to their premium reputation and awoke the tastebuds in style.

Tasting experience: being early meant we had the tasting room and staff all to ourselves.

Wine purchase: Black Cameron 2016 Shiraz

Tip: Boat O'Craigo offers RACV Members (including RACT, NRMA, RAA etc members) a 15% discount on take away wine case purchases at their cellar door. 

 

Innocent Bystander

Being ahead of time, an additional stop was made at Innocent Bystander’s cellar door and restaurant in the centre of Healesville. We were greeted with a wonderful array of wines to taste, including some alternative varieties, plus a cider. Ah the choices we have to make!

Tasting experience:  we rate this one highly as despite being busy, the cellar door staff member was friendly, interactive, informative and attentive. The tasting notes were also in a handy format.

Wine+ purchase: Prosecco and Real Cider plus a moscato gift for our upcoming travel friend. It could easily have been many more but we were only on winery two and heading once more to smaller operations.

Tip: if visiting both large and smalle wineries, buy strategically, eg cellar door only wines at the larger ones if their wines are widely available. Save your dollars for the smaller operators who may not have the wider distribution networks.

 

Hanrahan Vineyard

It’s a lovely driveway into Hanrahan and the cellar door appeals to my eclectic side with its shed appeal.  We are greeted effusively by Paul who ushered our small group into a private tasting area with its appropriate view of nearby vines. The view also included that of Otis the vineyard dog who on this occasion was in the doghouse, although that didn't stop our group from making friends with him!

Tasting experience:  Paul's passion and excellent knowledge of their patch of Yarra Valley soil (and beyond) was shared with enthusiasm and in easy to understand terms.

Wine purchase: Single Vineyard Yarra Valley Shiraz 2016  and Pinot Noir 2015  plus Man O War Exiled 2016. The latter is a pinot gris made  in New Zealand and stocked by Hanrahans for events.

Tip: the wines may be slightly more expensive than others but they are certainly a premium quality.  

 

Soumah for lunch

Neighbouring vineyard Soumah was the venue for a delicious lunch. The restaurant and tasting room were both busy so it was a vibrant atmosphere for both imbibing and dining! 

Tasting experience: Soumah offers an interesting range of alternative varieties and Italian imports which is well worth exploring.

Wine purchase: Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Tip: Soumah isn’t the Mediterranean name you might first imagine, it’s actually  from 'South of the Maroondah Highway'. Their style however is distinctly Northern Italian.

 

Coldstream Hills

The tour appropriately ended at James Halliday’s iconic winery, set on a hill with uninterrupted views over the Yarra Valley. It was the perfect place to end our day's wine journey.

As we pulled up a spot at the tasting bench, we spied some familiar artwork. There, proudly displayed behind the counter in the tasting room was a beautiful large glass trophy from the Royal Hobart International Wine Show – crafted by a talented friend of ours from the South Arm Peninsula.  When this was mentioned to staff, the comment was made that it was one of the most interesting trophies on the wine show circuit and therefore worth displaying!

Tasting experience: as would be expected, the wine was impeccable and the interaction with the cellar door staff member was again friendly and informative. That he had also a connection with our home state of Tasmania made for easy conversation.

Wine purchase: Yarra Valley Merlot 

 

The Verdict

With limited time pre-holiday to resarch all these wineries and choose which ones to visit, a small group wine tour takes the stress out of any decision-making for the day. All you have to do is get on board to visit some of the best wineries in the area, taste the wines you want and enjoy getting to know a lovely local like our tour guide Elaine.

 

Kerry and her partner were independent travellers.

Regions

  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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March 18th, 2019
 
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