The Big Bus offers a fabulous range of Melbourne wine tours. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book with us, and if you find the same tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply*. Julietta Henderson and Adam Ford check in with a handy guide to Melbourne's wine regions...
The glorious Yarra Valley east of the Melbourne CBD is most Melburnians’ destination of choice for a grape graze.
Think picture perfect vistas of rolling green hills, rambling vineyards, winding tree-lined roads and quintessential country cottages.
However, there are actually highly accessible wine-producing areas in almost every direction from the Victorian capital. Here’s a guide to Melbourne’s wine regions, and some recommended tours if you prefer to let someone else do the driving.
The Yarra Valley is without doubt the jewel in the crown of Victoria’s wine industry. You could fill a week visiting the cellar doors of the many wineries around Yarra Glen and Healesville, along with those nestled in the surrounding hills. There are some 300 vineyards and more than 150 wineries dotted across the region.
However, don’t discount the smaller players. You’ll get a very organic tasting experience at cellar doors like rustic Hanrahan Vineyard, Helen & Joey Estate (which is watched over by unicorns), and stylish Dominique Portet — a French-style winery run by a 9th and 10th generation father and son team. Lunch at Oakridge Wines is always a gastronomical gala event.
If you’re looking to add some sparkle to your life, head to the high-altitude wineries of the Macedon Ranges — roughly an hour’s drive north of Melbourne. This is one of the coolest wine regions in the country and the ancient landscape yields celebrated sparkling varietals. You’ll also all but escape the crowds that flock to the Yarra Valley.
The Mornington Peninsula lies about 80 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. It’s roughly the same distance from the city as the Yarra Valley, but a world away in terms of the style of wines on offer.
Largely surrounded by water and buffeted by cold winds coming in off the Southern Ocean, Mornington pulls together a unique pastiche of viticultural experiences from both hinterland and coastal vineyards. Since the establishment of the industry in the 1970s, there are now around 200 properties under vine and some 50 cellar doors in operation. But for the most part, think small, family-run scale.
If you’ve got a penchant for pinot noir, you’ve come to the right place. The local product is a favourite with connoisseurs. The region also produces some renowned chardonnays. Cellar doors of note include Port Phillip Estate (a very grand establishment), Ten Minutes by Tractor and Foxeys Hangout. Drop by Green Olive at Red Hill for lunch. They do a tapas menu of local bounty, matched with estate-produced drops.
Victoria’s second biggest city, Geelong, is a one-hour drive south-west of the capital, and it has a wine region on its doorstep that flies under the radar for most Melburnians. The Bellarine Peninsula is home to upwards of 40 wineries and produces some of Victoria’s best shiraz and chardonnay. Fun and funky Leura Park Estate and rustic Oakdene (with its award-winning vintages and acclaimed eatery) are just a couple of the standouts. Also swing by Yes said the Seal and Jack Rabbit.
The Bellarine is also on the rise as a culinary hub, and the handy Bellarine Taste Trail will pave your way to more than fifty local wineries, breweries and providores.
If you’re short on time, Melbourne’s closest wine region is 45 minutes’ drive from the CBD, and even less (25 minutes) if you’re killing time at Melbourne Airport and want to head out for the day to explore. Sunbury is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Victoria, with vines dating back to the mid 19th century. The wineries here benefit from the cold, dry conditions, which are perfect for the production of shiraz.
Craiglee Vineyard’s cellar door is only open to the public on the first Sunday of the month, but get hold of a bottle of highly decorated Craiglee Shiraz anyway. Galli Estate is committed to organic and sustainable vineyard practices. Its cellar door is open daily.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our guide to Melbourne’s wine regions? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
The wineries mentioned in this story are recommendations from the writers and are not necessarily visited on the Melbourne wine tours offered by The Big Bus. Please check the itinerary notes for your preferred tour for a list of the included stops.
*No credit card or booking fees are applied to bookings made directly on The Big Bus tour and travel guide website. Fees may be applied to bookings made via affiliate websites, including Viator. Our best price guarantee applies to Adelaide wine tours available on The Big Bus tour and travel guide website and does not apply to tours offered via affiliate websites, including Viator. For terms and conditions or to make a claim, please click here.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Julietta Henderson is a Melbourne-based travel and feature writer. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying for ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.