Australia does something else well other than hot chocolates. Wine. And it seems like most places you might find yourself in Australia are close to at least one great wine region. Yarra Valley is just an hour from Melbourne, and makes for a great day trip.
So that is what we planned, a full day visiting the Yarra Valley, with our first stop (because of a late start) being lunch at Yering Station. Yering Station is Victoria’s first vineyard established in 1838 by Scottish-born Ryrie brothers who ventured into the valley as they moved their cattle down from Sydney. They named the property ‘Yering’, its Aboriginal name, and planted two varieties of grapes. After a long history the vineyard was purchased by the Rathbone family in 1996 and the station was developed into a landmark tourist destination with different restaurants, accommodation, gardens, and of course tasting rooms. Yering Station also hosts a Farmer’s market the third Sunday of every month which features local produce stalls selling everything from home made jams to organic fruits.
Up above the main tasting area is Matt’s Bar. From here you get panoramic views across the property and valley (although surprisingly not a vine in sight). The atmosphere here is informal and features a short list of food items. We ordered one of each to share, the charred rockling slider, buttermilk marinated fried chicken, lemon and herb arancini, all really good, and of course a hot chocolate.
I enjoyed my hot chocolate, it was light and simple, but not as much as I enjoyed their wines, and we tasted all of them. There are two we have had before and like, the 2011 Shiraz Viognier with its hints of raspberry, pepper and pimento and their Cabernet Sauvignon, maybe because it has notes of cocoa in it. Their sparking wine is also really nice.
Even with a late start there is so much you can do in the Yarra Valley. Here is our day trip with a few extra recommendations. Not surprisingly there’ll be more hot chocolate reviews from the different stops coming up in the next weeks.
A (full!) Day in the Yarra Valley: Drive from Melbourne through Healsville for a quick coffee stop or to visit Healsville Sanctuary. Head over to the Yarra Valley and start tasting wine. Many of the vineyards offer lunch so pick one and enjoy. Yering Station was a really nice stop and I’d recommend it to anyone. After that make your way to Yarra Valley Dairy to test out their delicious cheeses and then drive on to Yarra Farms where you can buy freshly picked cherries and apricots. By then it’ll be time for something sweet at Yarra Valley Chocolates before taking the stunning drive up the Black Spur through Dandenong Ranges to Marysville for a late afternoon caffeine break before driving back to Melbourne, perhaps with another stop in Healsville for a beer at one of its growing number of micro breweries.
Verdict: Matt’s Bar was a great place for lunch and a very nice location to enjoy a good hot chocolate. The wine tastings at the end made it all even better. Yering Station, 38 Melba Hwy Yarra Glen, Victoria, Australia