Melbourne is a top food and wine destination, and you don’t have to go far from the city to sample some of the best local wine direct from the winery.
You don’t need to travel far from the city to appreciate some of Victoria’s best wines direct from the people who make them. These wine regions are all an easy day trip from Melbourne and offer cellar doors and top restaurants for the opportunity to sample the local wine and food produce.
Just a short one-hour drive north of Melbourne sits one of Australia’s best wine regions, the Yarra Valley. Spread across the rolling hills and fertile farming land are more than 300 vineyards growing grapes for the superb chardonnays and pinot noirs produced in the region. Cellar doors offer picturesque settings to sample your way through the local wines, and restaurants focus on bringing the best local produce to diners. Top wineries include Hanrahan’s Vineyard, Killara Estate, Punt Road and Tarrawarra Estate.
While it can be challenging bringing kids along on a day trip to wine regions, the Yarra Valley has plenty to offer under 18s who can’t yet appreciate its main drawcard. The Healesville Sanctuary is home to over 200 species of Australian native animals including kangaroos, platypuses, wombats and koalas and is a great place to see these unique animals up close. Anyone with a sweet tooth will enjoy a stop at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, where you can sample delicious hand made chocolates, or head to the Gateway Estate for the healthier option of picking your own strawberries.
The Mornington Peninsula is a playground for Melbournians, where the rolling hills lead to pristine beaches and the local food and wine are just some of the attractions on offer. Besides cellar-door hopping, you can spend the day on the green at one of the golf courses or relaxing at the Peninsula Hot Springs for some pampering. Restaurants are top-notch, including the award-winning fine dining Ten Minutes By Tractor.
If you are just here for the wine, you’ll be rewarded with 50 cellar doors to sample your way around. The maritime environment, humid but cooled by evening ocean breezes, makes the area perfect for pinot noir and chardonnay, and the varied soils throughout the peninsula leading to an interesting range of styles. Make a stop at top cellar doors including T-Gallant, Paringa Estate and Moorooduc Estate to enjoy wine tastings in this stunning setting.
Less than an hour from Melbourne, the high elevation of the Macedon Ranges makes it the coolest wine region on mainland Australia. The cold difficult conditions here mean wines are low yielding and grapes often have to be picked by hand, but the producers here who put the effort in produce elegant pinot noirs and fresh, minerally chardonnays and rieslings. The boutique cellar doors are less refined than at the big wineries of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, and you may find yourself doing a tasting in a shed with someone directly involved in the wine production. Visit in November to enjoy the Macedon Ranges Wine and Food Festival.
Out west to Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula is often overshadowed by its neighbour on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, the Mornington Peninsula. But while the area might not have same draw for holiday makers as Mornington, the Bellarine is still capable of producing some top New World wines with Old World style. Like much of Victoria, pinot noir and chardonnay are king here, with shiraz, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc also popular varieties. Enjoy spectacular views at Jack Rabbit and One Day Estate.
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