Wine Tour of the Yarra Valley Wineries
20.08.2012 - 20.08.2012 49 °F
Today involved a lot less walking and sightseeing than the past 19 days, although we did see some gorgeous views and really enjoyed ourselves! Given that it was dark and 37 degrees this morning, we opted for the gym, grabbed a small breakfast in our room, and headed out. Our bus took us about 80 minutes to the Yarra Valley, one of Australia's major wine-producing regions, with over 80 wineries that produce dozens of varieties of wine (mostly cooler climate wines).
Our first stop was the Yering Station Winery, where our awesome guide Sandy (from Australian Wine Tour Company) gave us the "basics" of wine tasting and then Jasper, an employee, took us through several tastings. I'll save you all the details of the various wines we tried, and what we learned, but feel free to ask when we get back stateside . We thought the wineries in Australia generally gave us much more (usable) information than the wineries in Italy that we toured on our honeymoon, and were also much less commercialized/ tourist-overloaded than the Italian ones.
We next went to Rochford's Winery, which again had some great offerings. We learned that the barrels you see in the pictures cost ~$1570 US and can only be used four times! We also ate lunch at Rochford's, and Kevin says it was his favorite meal of the whole trip! He had pumpkin risotto, and I had salmon with white and purple potatoes.
Rochford's had a great viewing tower where you could see the vineyard more fully (of course, the vines are bare now, as it is winter here, but it is still pretty!). We were both amazed by Melbourne's beautiful rolling hills and lush greenery.
Third, we went to Yering Farms, which was a very small winery (6,000 cases/ year), and had a very friendly sommelier (not sure if you call them that if they are at wineries, but go with me here!). We had a rose here that may have been our favorite wine of the day!
Finally, we stopped at Domaine Chandon, the home of the Australian branch of Moet & Chandon. We received tons of excellent information here on the history of sparkling wine (you can't officially call it champagne unless the grapes were grown in France), incuding Dom Perignon (a Dominican monk!) and the widower who created the bottling process still used today (and owner of Veuve Cliquot). Did you know each bottle of champagne is still dipped in freezing cold water to form an ice cap around the nozzle (where the dead yeast sediment has fallen to), and the ice is chipped off to remove the particles? Wow! At Chandon, we got a glass of champagne, and explored the beautiful vineyards a bit more.
On our way back, Sandy pulled over the bus because she saw a wild kangaroo! Kevin and I were so excited, and the Aussies on the bus thought we were a bit crazy . These things are HUGE and muscular! It was so cool to see it hopping away.
After tasting about 20 wines and driving back, it was time for a quick nap! We took it easy tonight, strolling along the Yarra river and ending up in a Food Court for simplicity. I got some tofu and vegetable stir-fry and miso soup, and Kev got some gyoza and sushi rolls. Kev has been complaining that he can't find the Goonies on TV (I can't make this stuff up...) and we're relaxing before another big day tomorrow!
-Megan and Kevin