Yarra Valley visit recommendations

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Brian Cheng, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. Hi,
    Long time lurker here.

    I will be staying in the Yarra Valley for 5 days at the end of August.
    Do forumites, have any recommendations of wineries to visit?

  2. We were over in Melbourne April and got to visit just a few but all proved to be most enjoyable. Payten and Jones are relatively small but have quite an interesting range (especially the sangiovese). Low intervention, unfiltered etc - so hardly mainstream. They also have a distillery opposite the cellar door in Healesville so that might also be of interest.

    The remainder were more well known: Coldstream Hills is the original vineyard owned by James Halliday - some excellent wines but a pretty slick commercial operation too which is not always what one wants on a visit. Yarra Yering is one of the stars of the valley and has a premium range that regularly knocks it out of the park, especially their red number 1 blend. I shipped a case of the 15 over as unavailable in UK and almost sold out. Finally, Oakridge which is a very slick operation with restaurant serving food to a very high standard of presentation and quality. A good range on offer to taste - seemed to employ backpackers as servers so limited knowledge (though enthusiastic). Am sure others will have far more extensive knowledge. Having just a day in the valley meant we booked a car to make things more efficient.
  3. 1 - Luke Lambert; 2 - Timo Mayer, though he maybe in Europe, as he is visiting UK during September.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  4. Others might comment, we only went once, but we had lunch at the Giant Steps Winery in Healesville. Typical pizza oven fare, but you can see the winery through the big glass wall and (well, five years ago) they have a decent wine list, not just their own wines. But as I say, five years ago.

    We did visit Domaine Chandon that day. It was quite like a visit to a big Champagne House, ie a bit commercial, but there are pleasant views, nice gift shop etc. Depends on your level of interest or geekiness. Although it does suit the tourist more than Wine obsessive, I’m still glad we went.

    There’s a wine estate with a good art gallery but excuse me that I can’t recall it’s name (I’m heading out but will ponder on it).

    If you were in the region longer I would strongly recommend a day on the Mornington Peninsula. Maybe a bit too far to drive from Yarra.
  5. I don't know if Dominique Portet still has a cellar door there but if he does I can recommend it
  6. Hi Brian
    Some very good suggestions above, including a number of new stars.

    I will add one that in pure wine 'quality' terms might not be so exciting, but as an experience we found very enlightening / rewarding for the soul. Kings of Kangaroo ground, started with Ken King's membership of the local amateur wine making group, and slowly grew so he had a basic but functional winery. Along the way, the local post office was slated for closure (yes they've suffered this as well). He recognised how important it was for the local community, so asked if he could keep it going inside his winery, and they said yes. So he flits between the winery, winery visitors and customers to the post office, all who he seems to know as friends.

  7. Thanks very much for all the suggestions.
    In general, how much in advance should one call ahead or no need at all?
  8. D8615968-01F6-4A90-B26C-4C595992EB72.jpeg

    We took this a month or so ago. We were on the way from St Andrews to Yarrawood, which was ok to visit, with good everyday wines. I was quite surprised at how hilly it was. Only a short visit, but I got the feeling that Mornington was more fun.

    Seville Estate might be worth a visit - it’s just been named Winery of the Year in the 2019 Halliday guide.
    johnny Shek likes this.
  9. Yarra Yering is the 'First Growth' of the Valley that is open to the public and they have a very big range. I'd say it's a must. The other, Mount Mary, isn't. They only make a few wines in any case.

    Try bigger wineries like de Bortoli (great value), Yering Station and Coldstream Hills if you want to taste a wide range of wines from entry level to Reserves (usually very good.)

    There's no need to make any arrangements beforehand apart from, maybe, really small operations. If you do give advance notice you might get better treatment.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  10. Stay one night and the dinner at the Healsville was excellent. Not a bad wine list
    Mark Carrington likes this.
  11. In general not needed, though check each, as some of the smaller places don't operate a tasting room. That said, I've grown to prefer the Italian approach of booking which does show you're serious and not just doing a winery crawl.
  12. Some of my best mates of Barrique wine store in Healesville. They run some good tasting night's with local winemakers and also have a decent range of imports should you find yourself gasping for some Burgundy!
  13. Hi, coming to this thread late, but I'd certainly suggest Oakridge as well. Last time I visited for a tasting (Jan this year) I was really impressed with the cellar door staff....friendly, knowledgeable etc. IMO probably the best all-round tasting room in the YV, most famous for Chardonnay but solid wines across the range.

    I haven't visited personally, but a good mate of mine did a tasing at Leventine Hill a couple of months back, and raved about it. They have a reputation for being pricey but apparently the wines are first-rate. They also have an outpost of a swanky Melbourne eatery, if that is your thing.

    I have to say I've not been blown away by either Yarra Yering or Mount Mary.....perhaps too high expectations? Yeringberg is in that same well-established higher echelon and I've been much more impressed by their wines. I don't think they are open for tasting though.

    Timo Mayer is open by appointment. Not visited but like his wines very much.

    Coldstream Hills is owned by TWE, but don't let that put you off. They have some excellent sites and a a couple of extremely competent winemakers. Medhurst is just down the road and was certainly enjoyable when I last visited. They have more of a cafe than a restaurant so its a good place to have a more informal lunch.

    Soumah is good for wood-fired Pizza and they have very solid wines too.

    One last place I've heard is good is Greenstone. I believe that they also get some fruit in from Heathcote, in case you wanted a beefier style of Shiraz.

    Hope that helps.

    PS - would also second Barrique in Healesville.....a really interesting wine shop.
  14. I'll echo Cameron's suggestion of Seville Estate. Had a good visit there last year and the wines were smart across the board.
    While they don't have a cellar door, it might be worth keeping an eye out for any of the Serrat wines made by Tom and Nadège Carson which get rave reviews.

    While not in the Yarra, Craiglee Shiraz from Sunbury (just a little north of Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport) is a glorious cooler climate style and generally pretty well available in Melbourne retailers.

  15. Definitely second the Healesville Hotel as a place to eat. Good food and a great wine list. Had a 15 year old Loire Cab Franc last time I was there which was just sublime. Been a while though, so probably check out online first unless anyone else has been more recently.


  16. We were in Melbourne in April and also visited Yarra Yering, which had a large number of wines available to taste. We happened to visit when they were hosting a trade tasting, so not ideal, but they managed to accommodate us.

    We also ate at the Giant Steps winery in Healsville - can’t remember exactly what we had to eat, but remember being happy. They also have wine flights available where you can include pretty much whatever you want. The wine itself is decent.

    We went to Domaine Chandon - after a quick walk around we couldn’t really face doing a tasting but this was probably down to my tired children. It is a nice setting but quite commercial, as others have noted.

    Mac Forbes has a wine room In Healsville that we also wanted to visit, but sadly this was shut.

    We stayed at the Balgownie Estate, which was very nice.
  17. Just arrived back from Melbourne, having spent 5 days in Yarra Valley.
    We only managed to see: Soumah, Giant Steps, Oakridge, Seville Estate and Tarrawarra Estate.

    Food quality was fantastic throughout, with a special mention to Oakridge. Dinner at Meletos was also very good.

    1. Giant Steps: Focused on single vineyard sites, and the wines tasted side by side really highlighted the different characters. The high altitude Wombat Creek site wowed me with mineral and intense Pinot and Chardonnay wines
    2. Oakridge: Really impressive venue. Food was outstanding. Less impressed by the wines. 864 is the premium label here with a local vineyard series also. No-malo chardonnays are the fashion in Australia and I found them too austere at this location, but showing very good intensity and site variation.. I favoured the shiraz here and they have 2 clones, a Barossa clone (864) planted at high density that showed sweet and concentrated with good intensity and a more "rhone" clone planted near the winery that had a little more spice and mineral. Didn't get to try the 864 pinot.
    3. Soumah: Large selection of wines, Equilibrio Chardonnay is a mendoza clone with a bit of oak, opulent and very welcome change of pace from the more austere wines. Cabernet was impressive, complex with a good blend of fruit, mineral and herb character, ripe tannin and good energy at the end. Nebbiolo was the highlight for me, 3rd vintage but showing balanced structure and rich tannin. A winery to keep an eye on
    4. Seville Estate: I was pretty worn out for this tasting and didn't really take a very positive impression. Chardonnay was better than Pinot
    5. Tarrawarra Estate: I didn't taste the premium cuvees, but was very impressed by what I did taste here. South Block Chardonnay particularly good, with very energetic palate. Shiraz and Nebbiolo also very good

    General Impressions
    - Producers are forward thinking and willing to experiment (e.g. new varietals, different clones, high density plantings)
    - Experiments with Italian varietals (The weather is really quite similar to Piedmont). The nebbiolo I tried was very encouraging and I'll be keeping a close eye on this going forward (good structure, balance and richness with moderate alcohol). More interesting than the pinot where I felt that the fruit covers up the structure in most of the examples tasted, and much preferred to the chardonnay (quality was very good, but barring the examples mentioned the austerity didn't make them too enjoyable for me)
    Macs Thomas and Shon Williams like this.

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