The Yarra Valley is located an hour’s drive from Melbourne and offers access to magnificent wineries and numerous gourmet food experiences. This Yarra Valley wine, beer, cider and chocolate tour features a craft cider and beer tasting, along with visits to a chocolaterie and three fabulous wineries. Lunch is available for purchase in the town of Healesville. Duration: 9 hours (approx.)
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For a great all-round introduction to regional Victoria’s gourmet food and wine scene, you can’t go past this epic Yarra Valley wine, beer, cider and chocolate tour from Melbourne with Autopia Tours.
I board the bus at St Paul’s Cathedral in the Victorian capital on a crisp spring morning. Once pick-ups in the CBD are completed, we head east towards the famous Yarra Valley — Victoria’s premier wine-producing region. Our bus is clean, comfortable and climate-controlled. Complimentary drinking water and sunscreen are available on board.
Our first stop is Gateway Estate — the region’s hub for the purchase of locally-grown and organic produce. This place is a feast for the senses. There are so many smells, colours and tastes to take in.
We start with a quick tour of the strawberry and capsicum fields on the estate, before enjoying generous tasting platters of local specialties, including cheeses, chutneys, biscuits and fruits. That’s topped off with a strawberry liqueur tasting. Given we all signed up for a wine tour, there are no complaints from the group about it being too early for a tipple!
Sporting a warm glow, we depart for our next destination — Napoleone Brewery & Ciderhouse. Set amongst orchards the family have been tending for years, this brewhouse, restaurant and accommodation facility occupies one of the most picturesque settings in the Yarra Valley. Napoleone craft their own beer — ranging from lighter IPAs to heavier pump-house ales. There’s also a selection of seasonal apple and pear ciders. After tasting them all, we have some time to visit the produce store and take a stroll around the magnificent grounds.
It’s a short drive on to Dominique Portet winery, which has been operated by the same family of French descent for more than ten generations. Along with a tasting of a wide selection of superb wines, we enjoy a game of pétanque (pronounced ‘pet-onk’) — the French-version of bocce. Our tour guide ups the stakes by offering a bottle of Dominique Portet wine for the winner!
Just across the paddock is famous Rochford Wines. We’re met on arrival by one of the estate’s winemakers, who introduces us to their award-winning range of drops. There’s plenty of time after the tasting to explore the estate, and climb the roof-top tower for the 360-degree views.
Next our guide pulls out all the stops with a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery. Even though the region is famous for its wine, this is the most popular attraction in the Yarra Valley — and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from the great selection of house-made ice creams (everything from bubble-gum to pistachio flavour), there are massive tubs of free chocolate! You can grab as many scoops as you like.
Our final stop for the day is the boutique Hanrahan Vineyard. Here you’ll undoubtedly hear the phrase: ‘We don’t do many, but we do them well’. There’s no automation of the wine production process at this vineyard. Everything is done by hand.
We’re greeted at the door by Robin, Bev and their dog Otis. We try a selection of amazing wines, accompanied by a platter of local cheeses. The grounds offer lots of shady spots to chill, and before long many of us are planted in the bean bags that are scattered around the garden.
With several stops, this Yarra Valley wine, beer, cider and chocolate tour from Melbourne is fabulous value. While it’s a packed day, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy every aspect of it.
Chris travelled as a guest of Autopia Tours.
Additional images: Bigstock
Chris Bright is a freelance writer based in Melbourne with a passion for travel, food, music and film. He’s travelled to South-East Asia, India, Japan, parts of Europe and much of North America. Chris is willing to try anything once, whether it’s leaping from great heights or eating things that don’t look the least bit appetising. When it comes to travel, he loves nothing more than meeting new people and sharing a laugh over their local drink of choice.