First published on 15 Jan 2012. Updated on 9 Sep 2012.
While a number of Australian wine regions may try and offer great food, booze and stunning scenery, none really comes close to the Yarra Valley. The Valley’s rolling hills are now home to over 120 wineries and produce some of Australia’s best cool climate chardonnay (yes, it's well and truly back now and we love it), pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and the ever-elusive shiraz viognier. And the beauty is that most wineries in Coldstream and right across the region are producing top drops across a number of price brackets.
Start your Valley visit by checking into the Sebel Heritage Yarra Valley
that’s one of the best in Sebel’s portfolio for good reason. Here you’ll find a hotel that’s a little larger than your standard boutique hotel, but it retains a lot of those characteristics – good service, contemporary rooms and great food. The hotel’s Bella Restaurant offers a seasonally changing menu from chef Darryl Hand and current highlights include grilled duck breast and pan-seared Buxton trout. The mains average out in the mid-$30s and as you’d expect, the wine list features a number of good local drops. On the indulgence side of things, the hotel’s day spa is the best in the district and make sure you book in well in advance. 2 Heritage Ave, Chirnside Park.
A short drive from the Sebel is the big-brand-owned-but-small-run Coldstream Hills
winery, which has been producing small stunning batches of wine since 1985. If you happen to run into one of the winemakers, Andrew Fleming and Greg Jarratt, they’ll probably give you a full play-by-play on the current vintage and why they say the 2010 Reserve Chardonnay stands out for its 'finely balanced acidity'. Don’t skip past the 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, which carries Coldstream’s signature plum and cherry characteristics. 31 Maddens Ln, Coldstream
Down the street at Dominique Portet
, you’ll find a winemaking family steeped in history, with Dominique himself being a ninth generation winemaker. His background – having spent time making wine in the French regions of Medoc, the Rhone, Provence and Champagne – shows through in his wines, specially the flagship ‘Andre’ red, a blend of Yarra Valley cabernet sauvignon and Heathcote shiraz grapes. His 2011 Dominique Portet Fontaine Rose (a blend of merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignion) is also worth sampling. 870 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream
Across the Valley, Yering Station
doesn’t just produce seriously good award-winning wine, but great fare to go with it. Yering Station is synonymous with pinot noir and shiraz viognier and arguably produces two of the finest examples of the wines in Australia. A slight notch below that, the winery’s Yering Station ED Rosé, made from 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes, is a fantastic summer wine and a great way to enjoy it is with the swordfish or rainbow trout in the restaurant next door, headed by chef Laura Webb-James. 38 Melba Hwy, Yering.
If you want to add a slight bit of romance to the getaway, then book a sunrise balloon ride with Global Ballooning, which has flights from $290 per person.