Is there anything better than a wine tour? Especially when it’s through Melbourne’s stunning Yarra Valley region and complete with local produce tastings, a gourmet lunch and even a game of bocce!
Last Friday the Backpacker Deals team were lucky enough to embark on Autopia’s Yarra Valley Wine Tour. We tried strawberry liquors and preserves at Gateway Estate, sipped beer and cider at Napoleone Brewery and Cider House, enjoyed tastings at Killara Estate Winery and Hanrahan Winery and indulged at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery.
Here’s exactly what we got up to and what you can expect on this incredible Yarra Vally Wine Tour.
The day started bright and early at 7.45am, with a pickup from outside St Pauls Cathedral on Flinders Street. The bus makes several stops around the city so you can choose the most convenient meeting point.
Once on board, we collected the last of the passengers before beginning the journey into the Yarra Valley.
Our tour guide for the day was Simon, who told us he’d been working with Autopia for about 16 years! He definitely knew his stuff. As we drove, he told us a bit more about the day’s activities and what we should expect. It was a rainy, grey day and we were all secretly hoping the sun would appear to show off the stunning Yarra Valley scenery.
Our first stop was at Gateway Estate, a greenhouse with a cute cafe/store attached. We met the owner who took us through to the greenhouse where he told us all about the estate’s history. There were capsicum plants and strawberries growing, the latter available for ‘U-pick’.
The highlight here was hearing all about the eco-friendly methods used on the farm, or so we thought until we wandered back inside! One huge table was set up with tasting platters of different relishes, jams, cheeses and treats from the area. We enjoyed trying the local produce and sipping Gateway Estate’s housemade strawberry liquors.
There was also the chance to purchase goodies from the Gateway store which you could pop in the fridge on board the bus.
Next, we stopped in at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery for even more treats. There was free samples of milk, white and dark chocolate to enjoy here, and we also indulged in a luxurious hot chocolate at the on-site cafe. It was delicious, but we felt EXTREMELY full afterwards.
After dragging ourselves away from the chocolate goodness, we made our third stop at Napoleone Brewery and Cider House. Situated in a quaint brick building, with stunning vines and huge windows opening onto grassy scenery, this was a beautiful place to relax and learn about the beer and cider making process.
We were treated to samples of apple and pear cider and various beers as we learnt about hops and the brewing process.
Later, we took a wander around the grounds and soaked up the gorgeous autumn colours.
Our next stop was Killara Estate Winery, for the first official tasting of the day! This was a gorgeous, open winery with incredible views and a warm, inviting fire inside.
We made the most of the scenery, snapping plenty of pics before we wandered inside to enjoy some wine.
Our hosts told us about the Italian heritage of Killara and the different winemaking procedures used and e got to taste some of the delicious Prosecco, white and red wines.
Then, it was time for lunch. We’d gorged ourselves on treats all day, but of course, we still had room for the mouth-watering Italian lunch that awaited us. Sitting at a table overlooking the vineyards, we enjoyed gnocchi, pizza and grazing plates brimming with fresh produce.
Once we’d filled our bellies, we ventured outside again for a wander around the vineyards and a game of bocce. There was a bottle of wine up for grabs for the winner, so things got competitive!
Later, after some kangaroo spotting and a final game of bocce, it was time for our final stop of the day at Hanrahan Winery. This was a family-owned, boutique winery that had a really special, intimate feel. We enjoyed sampling Shiraz and Pinot Noir as our hosts told us about the history of the winery.
There was a spectacular walk up to the top of the hill behind the vineyards and a comfortable area complete with beanbags for a more sunny day! There was also a trampoline, and most importantly, a cute staffy-cross called Otis, who was the resident winery dog.
Relaxed and tranquil, this was the perfect place to end our incredible day of wine, food and scenery.
We were sad to clamber back into the bus and make our way back to Melbourne, but after a huge day of wine, food and fun, we were ready for some rest! We all managed to fall fast asleep on the way back, before arriving in Melbourne around 5pm.
Overall, this was an unforgettable day that we all thought offered incredible value. We couldn’t believe the amount of wine, produce and other treats we got to try. And of course, the various hosts and our guide were fantastic.