The Yarra Valley is known for producing classic cool climate wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as plenty of up-and-coming varietals that should not be overlooked.
With Melbourne only an easy day trip away, a visit to this region makes for an enjoyable day trip with plenty of upscale restaurants and nature experiences available to explore.
1. Levantine Hill’s 100% Semillon White Wine
The Yarra Valley is an idyllic destination for all those interested in fine libation, offering velvety red wines to tempt the palate, sparkling bubbles that excite the senses, and hand-crafted spirits with stories of botanical wonders. All this and just an hour and a half away from Melbourne make this destination ideal for wine enthusiasts and drinkers alike!
Levantine Hill is an exciting new label making waves in the wine world. Winemaker Paul Bridgeman beautifully captured their mission statement for Levantine Hill: “Our goal is to craft wines of European elegance and subtlety that transcend our mortality as material beings.”
Levantine Hill Winery has set itself a lofty goal of producing outstanding vineyard-grown wines and has done just that in such a short amount of time, winning many prestigious awards and garnering praise from prominent critics such as James Halliday.
Levantine Hill’s debut white wine is an exquisite Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend. After being aged for ten months in various foudres, puncheons and hogsheads for 100% barrel fermentation, its delightful aromas of papaya, caper berries and tarragon blend beautifully with citrus and cashew nuts to form a balanced and enjoyable wine that offers immediacy of enjoyment as well as depth of complexity with ageing revealing more layers of complexity and richness – perfect to pair with dishes like calamari, shellfish cutlets or even Kingfish dishes like these!
Levantine Hill offers another exceptional offering in their 2020 Single Vineyard Roussanne. This delicious white wine boasts an inviting bouquet of yellow peach, nashi pear, canele and canele canape flavors, alongside natural acidity that produces a delightful grapefruit, mango cream and endive finish.
Small Victories is a family run winery offering fun yet seriously delectable wines from South Australian vineyards. Sisters Jules and Bec Ashmead hand-craft all of their wines so that they are fresh, playful, and enjoyable; their philosophy being unpretentious while allowing the fruit’s essence to come through in every bottle they produce. Perfect for sharing cheeseboards among friends or pairing with lighter meals such as pastas or cured meats!
2. The Yarra Valley’s Pinot Noir
As Victoria’s premier winegrowing region, Yarra Valley is widely recognized for producing outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. Additionally, this region produces outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blends.
These wines from Yarra Valley’s cool climate boast light bodies with refreshing acidity, delightful aromatics of cherry and damson plum fruit as well as flowers like violets. This makes them the ideal pairing with its Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, particularly its fresh dishes like seafood.
Yarra Valley Pinot Noir stands apart from modern Australian wine styles by being more restrained and delicate, compared with those produced in New Zealand which shares similar cool climate conditions and long growing seasons.
Yarra Valley’s success with Pinot Noir can be attributed to its diverse soil. The area offers both older, grey soils and younger, red loam clay-based soils allowing vines to adjust easily to changing environmental conditions while producing high quality fruit.
The Yarra Valley’s soil and cool climate combine to produce wines of elegance, finesse and depth. Their Pinot Noirs tend to be light to medium-bodied with vibrant, fresh fruit characteristics and floral, earthy aromas like cherry, raspberry and strawberry with subtle vanilla undertones reminiscent of other Australian regions.
The 2021 vintage was an exceptional one in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for the Yarra Valley, with both styles showing great balance and length of finish. One local winemaker stated it as his best harvest yet; these wines should definitely be stored.
Domaine Chandon, Yarra Yering and Mac Forbes are among the Yarra Valley’s premier producers of Pinot Noir wine, while Mac Forbes himself hails from French wine royalty: his grandfather managed Chateau Lafite-Rothschild while his uncle established Clos du Val winery in Napa Valley.
Yarra Valley offers an idyllic destination, filled with vineyards all throughout its regions and offering ample cellar door tasting opportunities. There are various accommodation options to suit every need here from self-contained cottages and winery retreats all the way up to five-star luxury suites.
3. The Yarra Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon
The Yarra Valley is an extraordinary Victorian wine region located east of Melbourne. With lush greenery and rolling hills dotted with vineyards and charming small towns, its picturesque countryside views and world-class wines make this area world-renowned. There’s something here for every traveller; with luxury five-star hotels, charming cottages and winery retreats available as accommodation choices you won’t have trouble finding your ideal stay destination!
Terroir (French for “sense of place”) is the cornerstone of world-class wines produced in Napa Valley. Here, soil types, climate, topography and altitude variations all create distinct microclimates which allow for the creation of diverse mesoclimates to produce an array of varietal wines.
Cabernet sauvignon is the trademark red wine of Yarra Valley and is recognized for its elegance and structure. Fruit flavours balance nicely against firm tannins for a long finish, making this wine an ideal accompaniment to steaks or hearty stews.
Pinot noir is another Yarra Valley specialty, boasting river-like streams of intense berry flavors bursting through its regions. The best Yarra Valley pinots tend to be lighter and more elegant with citrusy acidity and stone fruit/fig notes.
Shiraz is another iconic wine from Yarra Valley, though more full-bodied than Pinot Noir. Shiraz from this region can range from bold and rich, reminiscent of olive, to light and savoury notes reminiscent of olive.
Yarra Valley is Australia’s primary cool climate wine producing region, boasting more than 80 cellar doors. First planted as early as 1838, today its vines produce some of Australia’s finest cool climate wines such as Domaine Chandon (Moet & Chandon’s Australian vineyard), De Bortoli and Yering Station wineries.
Yarra Valley wineries provide cellar door experiences and picnic facilities; many even feature restaurants, cafes, boutique accommodation and boutique accommodation options. Beyond wine, however, Yarra Valley is well known for its craft beers and ciders; in fact its thriving local brewing industry has given rise to a beer and cider trail across its hills featuring tasting paddles at places such as Yarra Valley Brewery, St Ronans and Kellybrook as well as Healesville Sanctuary where visitors can interact with native animals like koalas and kangaroos in their natural habitat.
4. The Yarra Valley’s Shiraz
Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s acclaimed wine regions, located about an hour east of Melbourne. Yarra Valley vineyards are famed for producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties suited for cooler climates as well as sparkling wines made with the Methode Champenoise process, but you may also come across Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon or even lesser-known varietals such as Nebbiolo or Gamay here.
Yarra Valley is an idyllic destination for wine-lovers, offering tastings and tours to introduce visitors to its abundant wines. Most cellar doors provide standard tastings, while some also provide behind-the-scenes tours or expert sampling classes designed to expand your knowledge about different wines and their flavors. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the region’s vignerons themselves and hear about its rich viticultural history!
Small family-run wineries in Yarra Valley are dedicated to maintaining its history and traditions, producing small batches of wine while welcoming you with smiles from their winemakers/vigneron. It provides an intimate yet enriching experience that you won’t find at larger wineries.
Yarra Valley is famed for its temperate climate, yet its diverse terrain provides numerous microclimates which impact the quality and style of its grapes and wines produced there. Soil types, mountain heights, sun exposure and wind patterns all play a role in weather patterns including winds, rainfall and solar radiation that ultimately influence how vines and fruit are grown at each site.
These differences are celebrated in Yarra Valley wines produced at its premier wineries and cellar doors, such as Chapel Hill Winery run by former ballerina-and-barrister Angus and his wife Cathy who take great care to produce wines that showcase the vineyard and climate best. At Chapel Hill Winery they believe in minimal intervention with each wine produced to bring out its natural flavours without masking its true regional character.
The 2021 Yarra Valley vintage was exceptional, featuring ample rainfall at just the right time and ideal temperatures that allowed for a long, cool growing season. As such, some premium wines from Yarra Valley are now being released much earlier than normal for purchase and many winemakers believe this to be one of the best years ever for cellaring opportunities.