Barely an hour’s drive northeast of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley “features everything you might want in a wine region: farm-to-table meals, generously poured glasses, and gorgeous vistas that seem to go on without end,” says Annie Fitzsimmons in National Geographic. It’s a “flat, sprawling region peppered with more than 50 wineries, cute-as-pie country towns, markets and even microbreweries,” writes Lonely Planet.
“They don’t tell you about this place in the tourist brochures,” says Lonely Planet of Yarra Yering ( … the Dry Red No 1, 2 and 3 are the pick of the lot at this vineyard first established by the iconic Dr Carrodus in 1969 – and they sell out quickly”) and Yeringberg (“its cellar doors are officially open only once a year in May on release of their wines … get the Yeringberg, a cab sauv with merlot, cab franc and some Malbec”), which it rates as the two most serious wineries in the region.
Another Yarra Valley winery in the top bracket is Innocent Bystander in Healesville, “where Phil Sexton makes Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the steely style currently in vogue,” reports Harvey Steiman in the US Wine Spectator. More than the wines intrigued me, say Steiman: “The modern building is an architectural award winner for its angled placement, green certifications and distinctive long swaths of wooden slats on the exterior.”
Just down the road, Rockford Wines boasts a cellar door, barrel room, observation tower and art gallery and a huge outdoor amphitheatre – it’s a total food, wine, arts and entertainment package and “their tasting experience is wonderful,” says Melbourne Girl. At nearby Dominique Portet, “critics and connoisseurs alike rave consistently about the Fontaine Rosé, one that’s an exceptional berry-driven summery blend of merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon,” writes Time Out, “and a steal at $22 a bottle.”