Because we enjoyed our expedition to the Great Ocean Road so much, we decided to book their Yarra Valley Gourmet Wine Tour as well. Living in the Sonoma Valley wine country in Northern California, we were especially curious to compare this valley to ours.
We were picked up just after 8:00 am, and were joined by another 16 guests (one of them a young girl who was amazingly well-behaved) before we drove off to the Valley, about 51 kms away.
Our first stop was at Yarra Farm Fresh, where we tasted some locally-grown fruits and juices. We bought some really yummy cherries, along with a bag of beetroot chips to try out (that turned out to be really good).
After this stop, we went to the De Bortoli Winery, purportedly one of the great family wineries of the Yarra Valley. In their Cellar Door (what tasting rooms are called in Australia), we tasted not only some fine wines (we bought a bottle of chardonnay to enjoy later) but also some delicious cheeses that they also produce. The terrain at DeBortoli was beautiful, similar to views in the Sonoma Valley.
The following stop, at the Yarra Valley Chocolatrie and Ice Creamery, was a unique chocolate tasting experience—we’ve never seen such a variety of amazing, hand crafted chocolate…from Dark Chocolate Gourmet Collection Ginger & Lemon Myrtle, and Kitchen Garden Pepita Seed and Lemon (both of which we bought) to white, milk, and dark chocolates flavored with such delights as macadamia and salted caramel; orange and almonds; pear and hazelnut; violet and forest berries; chia seed and mandarin; fig and fennel seed to name a few — talk about having dessert before dinner!
Speaking of dinner, the next item on our agenda was lunch at Rochford Wines. We were served an interesting three-course meal—appetizer (a cheese croquette), main (marinated beef / chicken salad), and dessert (a chocolate mousse that I couldn’t finish) with wine pairings for each offering. Although good, the wines were not notable. The setting was lovely, though, and the vineyard scenic.
From lunch we went to the Yarra Valley Dairy for yet another cheese tasting, to Coombe Yarra Valley for more wine tasting and, finally, to a small village called Healesville (which could have been Healdsburg 60 years ago) to walk about and browse before the long drive home.