Having the specific intention to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, some weeks ago, we took part in a food&wine tour in the Yarra Valley, just an hour from Melbourne.
We joined Go West tours, a company which sets up many experiences in Victoria, to make sure we could see the best.
Our journey has been especially enjoyable, we were a small group which was a great thing and our guide, Michelle, has been formidable.
Federico and I are used to Italian blog and food tours, so trying this kind of experience on the other side of the world was truly inspiring.
But before sharing my opinion with you I’ll guide you through a virtual journey, following each step we did.
Tasting food&wine in the Yarra Valley
9.05 Ready, set, go!
Michelle picked each member of the group up, with her mini-van, directly at their location.
I must admit it, Michelle made the experience much worth it than it was. With songs, quiz and introductions she was pretty much able to keep us ‘happy on board’ from morning to evening.
And guess what, we could even learn something about the Yarra Valley.
To quote one, the name Yarra comes from Yarro-Yarro, which means ‘constanstly moving’ in the australian aborigenal language. Yarra Valley is still enough prolific and each year it donates Victorians precious products, mostly thanks to the river that nourish it.
As a symbol of gratitude for those gifts, Moomba festival was established as an annual celebration. Nowadays it’s one of the most colorful, extravagant and amazing festival in Melbourne so you’d better get there if you reach Melbourne around March.
Here it is a short video to show you what Moomba could offer: Moomba Festival!
10.30 Yarra Farm Fresh
We got to the first stop just in time to have breakfast. The owners were awaiting for us with plenty of products to make us taste.
Pink Lady apple juice, one with ginger, fresh fruit, Australian craft nougat, chilli&tomato chutney and raspberries jam.
We loved everything but, most of all, the Pink Lady apples juice, naturally sweet and refreshing.
A quick stop at the shop and then back to the mini-van for the second stage of the experience.
10.45 De Bortoli Wines
While speaking with Michelle we found out she’s half Australian and half Italian as her father is from Veneto. She was glad to have Italians on board and she’s started talking about Italian wine, meanwhile she drove through our next stop.
In a while we were at De Bortoli wines, a picturesque family-run business with Italian origins. You can easily wonder we were full of expectations at this stage.
We jumped off the van and met this kind woman who was awaiting us for the tasting session.
It was just morning and we had 9 glasses in front of us, interesting breakfast, isn’t it??
Our first taste was a sparkling white wine similar to our Prosecco, then we kept going with three more white wines: a glass of Chardonnay, Pinot gris and Sauvignon.
Guessing the high quantity of wine, and as a result alcohol, we would have drunk, the tasting guide provide us with toasts and cheese to pick between a glass and another. And my stomach was really pleased!
The tasting went straight with three more glasses of red wine: Pinot nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. On top of the cake we’ve tasted the “Nobile”, a sweet wine which seems a Rhum more than wine.
In order to mislead our tipsy bodies, we walked around the estate and the vineyard. Well kept, tidy and luxuriant, you can feel the Italian touch in there.
12.00 Yarra Valley Dairy
As our stomachs began grumbling we tried to satisfy the hunger with a cheese tasting in a modern cheese factory.
Their strong suit is for sure the goat cheese: just-made, aged in the ash or seasoned with lemon zest, saffron, garlic and cloves. Three interesting version of the same cheese, really fresh and tasty.
We tasted some cow cheese too and a ‘blue’, Gorgonzola cheese made in an Australian way.
A quick stop in the shop and we were ready to proceed with the tour.
12.30 Rochford Wines
Even though we were not that lucky with the weather during the day, when we got to the Rochford wines estate we could catch some sun. Hectares of lands from vineyard to green fields and huts seemed so bright and colorful thanks to the perfect light.
Nice thing for my camera 😉
As we got out of the van we were overwhelmed with an incredible ‘home aroma’, it took just some seconds to recognise it.
Beside us there were plenty of boxes full with marc, just divided from the must. I wish you could smell the fragrance!
Then, we went forward on a footpath and entered in a wide room, furnished in an elegant way, and we sat around two long and convivial tables.
What more than wine creates a convivial table??
I choose salmon with ricotta sauce, beetroots and lentils, while Federico opted for braised beef with quinoa and cauliflowers. Everything matched with a glass full of wine, white for me, red for him.
Despite the mouth being always full of delicious food, we managed to speak with our dining companion: Sam and Rick from Queensland, Fiona from America, Lisa and Rose from Victoria and, of course, our guide Michelle.
We could even exchange some inspiring opinion about food, wine and places to see in Australia.
Once we had finished lunch we still had some time for coffee and a tour of the estate.
The most fascinating point was the terrace on top of a long staircase, it had one of the most scenic views of the winery.
Oh and to be sure to burn all the calories gathered with tastings plus lunch we could enjoy a ride with segways, up and down the estate’s hills.
14.00 Yering Station
Although our hunger had already been satisfied, we made some room for the last two stops of the tour.
At Yering Station we tasted five more wines among red, white and rosè ones.
Cheerful and high we did it through this last wine tasting. As we did at Rochford wines, to get over all the alcohol drunk, we walked around this green and contemporary winery.
14.45 Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery
Last stage to conclude our day on a high note! This complex belongs to a chocolaterie&ice creamery Belgian chain and is on its way to become a real chocolate valley.
On one side there’s the productive area, clearly visible behind a glass wall, on the other the shop and the tasting corner.
Before losing ourselves among thousands of varieties of chocolate and sweets at the cafè, we’ve participated in the last tasting of the tour, the best one!
Ten chocolate bars on the table, each one wrapped in a creative paper, and ten small bowls with pieces of chocolate in front of them.
Pear and hazelnuts, berries and violet, honeycomb are just few matches we’ve tasted, everyone perfectly covered with selected Belgian chocolate.
At that point of the day we only had little time to run through the whole shop and try to take home those delicious products.
While Federico was choosing the perfect combination for our snacks, I lost myself in front of three chocolate taps, trying to figure out how to get my bottle full without being noticed.
17.00 Back to Melbourne
We’ve left the last stage with a wonderful taste in our mouths and Michelle’s brought us back in Melbourne, everyone with its bag full of wine, chocolate and carefreeness 🙂
My opinion, finally
I couldn’t write you my opinion without involving you in our trip and daily schedule.
As you may have understood, our day had been truly pleasant as a combination of many things. Anyway, I must admit it, we didn’t enjoy each product we’ve tasted.
Even though the whole experience is worth it, the cheese and wine we’ve tasted weren’t as good as those ones we have in Italy.
Yeah, I know it, I shouldn’t compare them, but I was expecting much more from Australian products.
Cheese was good but the cow one we’ve tasted was something awful! Though we’ve appreciated the goat cheese in its seasoned version.
Wines are totally different from ours, even if the owners of the estates are Italians.
Most of the times the smell tricks the flavour and it doesn’t reach the expectations. This happens with red wines, in particular, as the tannin taste is too stroong and then they loose strenght in your mouth.
Anyway, I must recognise the efforts of Australians as they’ve just begun to deal with wine and I believe they’ll be competitive on the market in the next years.
Talking about chocolate and pink lady apple juice, well, they exceeded our expectations! But I guess it’s too easy with a chocolate lover..
In the end, beyond my personal opinions, I truly suggest this kind of food tour in the Yarra Valley, especially when travelling around Victoria. The experience turned out to be interesting and inspiring because of all the differences we could catch when related to our culture.
Moreover, the landscapes are just marvellous and you can definitely enjoy a relaxing day there.
And now, after reading this post and having your mouth watering, would you like to see the whole experience with your eyes??
Look at our YouTube channel, we’ve just posted a wonderful video post about it!
For enquiries and request write to me: