Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tour

Australia is one of the world’s top wine producers and (while in Melbourne) you must make time to visit Yarra Valley. There’s over 80 wineries in Yarra, 50 of which have an open cellar door for tastings. Since I was traveling solo, and didn’t want to drive home drunk, I booked a Yara wine tour.

You could easily do a DIY wine tour. You can do a little research online or get recommendations from Yarra Valley’s Tourist office for wineries to visit. Find 3 – 4 wineries, anything more and I’d have to say you have a drinking problem ? .

Note: Some wineries may charge a cover for wine tasting, but that’s generally refundable if you purchase bottles from them. For popular wineries, reservations on weekends is recommended.

Winery #1: Napoleon Brewery And Cider

I have to be honest. At the beginning of my tour,  I worried that I’d picked the wrong operator. Our first stop was to an organic farm, the second was to Napoleon Brewery. This wasn’t what I was expecting on a wine tour. When you go on a wine tour, you expect wine. Two stops in and NO WINE!

Napoleon is actually a gorgeous estate that’s based in a converted farmhouse. The inside of the brewhouse is huge and beautifully designed. There’s a massive bar and dining area. While we were there we sampled some of their apple and pear flavored ciders. Very tasty and it definitely got the inner alcoholic in me warmed up. I could easily see myself sitting in a porch somewhere knocking back a six pack of their ciders without feeling it.

Winery #2: Dominique Portet Winery

If there was one stop on the tour that I didn’t like, this was it. We got to tour the cellar room for Dominique Portet and it was a large cavernous room with some wine barrels stacked up. The person giving the tour, while knowledgeable, wasn’t engaging. Also, as she was presenting the wines for sampling, there was a persistent feeling of a hard sell of their product that was a little off putting. This was the only stop on the tour where no one bought anything from the winery.

We got to sample 2 or 3 wines. They were OK, but not very memorable. This isn’t a place I would recommend anyone visit on a wine tour. The setting and the interactions with the staff is a little too sterile and formal. This isn’t conducive to having a good time while sampling the wines.

Winery #3: Rochford Winery

This was the turning point in the tour for me. Finally, the wine bottles were being uncorked and the good stuff started flowing freely. The entrance to the winery takes you into the shop floor, which is filled with wonderful wine displays. In the back there’s a nice tasting room that’s perfect for big groups.

The difference between Dominique and Rochford was night and day. The person giving the tasting was not only knowledgeable, she was also engaging and funny. More importantly Rochford was very generous with their wine. We sampled probably 5 or 6 different bottles. With each sample we learnt interesting details as we chugged, um sipped, our wines.

Rochford was rewarded for their generosity.  Several people in our group bought from their store.

Winery #4: Killara Estate

After Rochford I was feeling tipsy, happy and didn’t think another winery would be able to top it. I was wrong. Very wrong. Killara Estate was the tour showstopper. As you walk into the winery you come across an outdoor deck with incredible views of the vineyards. It was heavenly and a perfect place to stand and enjoy the wine while taking in the lush scenery.

Our host at Killara was boisterous and funny. He had a cheeky humor that really livened up the tasting. Again, like Rochford, this winery was generous with their sampling. I don’t know if it was the setting, the great atmosphere or the fact that I was pretty much toasted, but I loved our time at this estate.

This is what wine tasting should be. A fun atmosphere, drinking as much wine as you can while pretending to listen to all the information being shared — and kangaroos!

In the vineyard there was a small group of kangaroos grazing as we drank. In my drunk state, I squealed like a little girl with excitement.

Below is a video from my wine tour. Add alcohol to any occasion to make it better :

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