Victoria's wine industry, like that of South Australia, was originally built on fortified wines made in the style of ports and sherries and was concentrated in the north-east of the state around Rutherglen and Milawa-Glenrowan, where pioneering names such as Campbells, Morris and Brown Brothers still thrive but now also make outstanding table wines. Warm-climate irrigated vineyards also still thrive along the Murray River while there are also outposts of vinous excellence at Great Western, the Pyrenees, near Macedon and around Bendigo and Ballarat. The vast majority of the premium focus today, however, is on cool-climate regions including the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula (both within an hour of Melbourne) and Bellarine Peninsula outside Geelong. Chardonnay and pinot noir flourish in the these regions with names like Chandon, Coldstream Hills and Yarra Yering starring in the Yarra and Kooyong, Yabby Lake and Stonier among the leaders on the Peninsula. Both regions also produce outstanding dairy products.
The Oakridge Wines chef shares his insider's guide to the best of the Yarra Valley.
Some of the most innovative winemakers in Australia can be found in this pretty and diverse region just an hour from Melbourne. Known for its sparkling wines, stellar chardonnays and outstanding pinot noirs, the Yarra was first planted with grapes in 1838 – only three years after Melbourne was founded. Over the past 40 years it has become a drawcard for small producers attracted to its diverse influences, which include both Mediterranean and continental climates and a number of soil types.
Today, the Yarra offers a country experience with a dash of city sophistication with major producers including Coldstream Hills, Oakridge, Domaine Chandon, Giant Steps, Innocent Bystander, Toolangi Vineyards and Yering Station. There has been a recent explosion of new cellar doors with two of the most spectacular at Coombe Farm (Dame Nelly Melba's former home) and Levantine Hill (home to the Ezard @ Levantine Hill restaurant). The gourmet hamlet of Healesville is well worth a visit.
Giant Steps was established in 1997 and has won
many awards over the years. The cellar door is a
'must-visit' with its spectacular wines and its
unique glass wall that allows guests to witness
the winemaking process.
Four Pillars Distillery is hard to miss with its
beautiful façade of greenery hanging over the
tasting room. You must sample their modern
crafted Australian style gin that captures the
flavors of both Asia and Mediterranean.
The Coldstream Hills Cellar Door was established by
James and Suzanne Halliday in 1985 is a must-visit
for wine enthusiasts eager to taste their extensive
selection of award winning Yarra Valley wines.
In just two decades the dramatically beautiful Mornington Peninsula has undergone a remarkable transformation from sleepy summer weekend destination for Melbourne doctors and lawyers to one of Australia’s coolest wine and food destinations. Just over an hour's drive south-east of the Victorian capital, the peninsula has spectacular scenery, surf beaches, fine food, great wines and plenty of luxurious accommodation for gourmet travellers.
There are now more than 50 cellar doors and dozens of appealing restaurants, many of them overlooking vineyards, along with a dozen top-notch golf courses. The winery names are impressive: Stonier,Ten Minutes by Tractor, Port Phillip Estate/Kooyong, Yabby Lake, Paringa Estate, Circe, Eldridge Estate, T’Gallant, Scorpo and Montalto among them. Chardonnay and pinot noir are the grape varieties that do best here, but pinot gris/grigio first emerged in Australia here, and there is a wide range of regional produce including cheeses, chocolates, chutney, jam and olive oils.
The tasting rooms at Yabby Lake, a premium producer
of pinot noir and chardonnay has stunning vineyard
views and lunches - reservation is a must.
A relaxed cellar door ambiance with two restaurant
choices: La Baracca and the Spuntino Bar specialising
in pizzas and Italian-accented wines.
Circe was established in 1993 and has a variety
of chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz to sample
at the cellar door. By creating a small vineyard,
the team is able to focus on the detail and
quality of each vintage.
The working-class coastal town of Geelong, just over an hour east of Melbourne, is surrounded by vineyards on the Bellarine Peninsula, Moorabool Valley and the Surf Coast. The region was first planted with vines by Swiss immigrants in 1842 but the modern industry was only re-established in the 1970s. The Moorabool Valley to the north is home to Austins, Bannockburn, Clyde Park and Lethbridge. You'll find Scotchmans Hill, Bellarine Estate, Leura Park Estate, Jack Rabbit and Oakdene on the Bellarine Peninsula, while the Surf Coast has cellar doors at Bellbrae, Brown Magpie and St Regis, among others.
The coolish temperatures have proved perfect for the great Burgundy varieties of chardonnay and pinot noir, but shiraz, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris/grigio also do well. The Bellarine has a maritime climate, the Moorabool Valley has a warm, continental climate and the Surf Coast is known for long summer days and cool ocean breezes.
Bellarine Peninsula winery Terindah Estate was named by James Halliday as one of his “Dark Horse” wineries of the year for 2016. The striking modern venue's wine tastings include a sweet wine made from the rare Italian grape picolit, and The Shed restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, serves lunch daily.
Another Bellarine winery, relative newcomer Jack Rabbit Vineyard, has superb views across the bay to Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne, and is home to two eateries; fine-dining Jack Rabbit Restaurant and the more casual House of Jack Rabbit.
An old favourite at Bannockburn is Clyde Park Vineyard and bistro, which is well-known for its wood-fired pizzas.
*Mystery Shiraz: Offer ends 11.59pm (AEDT) 23 March 2023 unless sold out prior. Qantas may withdraw or extend these offers at any time.
^Italy Competition: Qantas Airways Limited. Promotion Period: 12.01am (AEDT) 15 March 2023 to 11:59pm (AEST) 16 April 2023. Eligible Entrants: Australian resident Qantas Frequent Flyer members (excluding NT), aged 21 years or older. Entry: Eligible Entrants must purchase any wine, beer, Champagne or spirit product from qantas.com/wine. Multiple entries permitted. Draw: 2.00pm (AEST) on 15 May 2023 at MDSA, Level 16, 1 Denison Street, North Sydney NSW 2060. Prize: A trip to Italy for the winner and three 3 guests valued at a maximum AU$47,000. Winner notification: By phone and email within 2 business days of the draw and their name will be published on wine.qantas.com/win on 22 May 2023 and the Prize winner will be announced in The Australian newspaper on 22 May 2023. View full terms and conditions at https://wine.qantas.com/terms-and- conditions-competitions. License No. T20/1184 Liquor Act 2007 (NSW): It is an offense to sell or supply to or to obtain liquor on behalf of a person under the age of 18 years. Licence Number: NSW LIQP770016736, NT IRL0201, SA 57900154. Authorised under NSW Permit No. NTP/06071, ACT TP23/00314, SA Licence No. T23/226. Qantas Frequent Flyer Operations Pty Limited ABN 22 132 484 210 of 10 Bourke Road, Mascot, NSW 2020 (telephone number 02 9578 4184).
**Patron: Offer ends 6 April 2023 11:59pm (AEDT) unless sold out prior. Qantas may withdraw or extend these offers at any time. To view the Qantas Wine T&Cs, please visit here.
Liquor Act 2007 (NSW): It is an offence to sell or supply to or to obtain liquor on behalf of a person under the age of 18 years. Licence Number: NSW LIQP770016736, NT IRL0201, SA 57900154