UPDATED Janaury 10, 2020
Southeast Australia is one of the areas affected by the fires and is normally a high-risk area. The city of Melbourne is safe, though the air quality is affected. Yarra Valley is still safe for wine tourism. I encourage you to go if you already have travel booked, as they need your tourism dollars more than ever now. Mornington Peninsula is also fine for tourism. For more information check out this site which is frequently updated/
Planning a trip to Australia’s wine country, but not sure where to start? Explore Melbourne, a sophisticated and vibrant city, often voted the most livable city in the world, and it’s only an hour from some of Australia’s most dynamic wine regions. Melbourne wine tasting is an adventure of its own – discover some of the best wines along the Victoria Coast.
Where is Melbourne?
Melbourne is the coastal capital city of Victoria (the smallest state on the mainland), located in the southeastern part of Australia. The city was established in 1835 on the lower stretches of the Yarra River, which also happens to wind through many Yarra Valley wineries.
Vineyards, beaches, and Pinot Noir sounds like a match made in heaven to me. There aren’t many places that can compete with that, though Santa Barbara, California comes to mind.
Oh, did I mention that Victoria also has a cool, Mediterranean climate? That’s a big bonus, as Australia can be brutally hot.
Wine Tasting in Melbourne
As you might expect in a city voted the world’s most livable time after time, it’s not difficult to find a good wine bar. In fact, my measure of a great city is the selection of wines available along with food pairing. In Melbourne, there’s no dearth of good wine bars – not to mention wine country is just a short drive or train ride away. You’ll also find bars with a fantastic selection of wines from around the world.
Kirk’s Wine Bar
46 Hardware Lane
+61 3 9600 455
While Hardware Lane is overrun with tourists, Kirk’s is still cool, a place where even a visitor can feel as though he or she, has a reserved seat at a local standard. The wine list is top notch and includes old world wines as well as some off the grid biodynamic wines from Europe. If you don’t fancy wine, no problem, fortified spirits and Port are also on the menu. Food offerings are simple, change daily, and served tapas style.
The Alps Wine Bar and Shop
64 Commercial Rd
Prahran, VIC 3181
+61 3 9529 4988
The Alps Wine Bar is interesting because not only do they have a great selection of wines from around the world and delicious charcuterie to pair with them; you can leave with a bottle of your favorite pour. One other bonus, there are regular masterclasses with winemakers. I learned a lot about wine attending tastings like this. The dark wood and unpainted brick make a cozy ambiance as well.
386 Rathdowne Street,
Carlton North, VIC
+61 3 9349 4748
A faithful standby in the Melbourne wine tasting community, Gerald’s offers a hefty wine list and a large number of wines by the glass which change daily. I love this because it’s a great way to find new wines you love without spending a fortune. Small plates are available or you can do food and wine pairing for a set fee plus drinks.
Melbourne is also known for its coffee culture, so you can wake up with a good cuppa Joe and follow that with the juice of the vines You’ll never go thirty, that’s for sure. Melbourne seems to have it all: diversity in food, wine tasting, history and culture can be found in the architecture and museums, great street art, beaches, boating on the Yarra River, what doesn’t Melbourne have?
Planning to stay over in Melbourne? Check out this article from Crazy Tourist.
Vineyards and Wine Tasting in Victoria
Though Victoria is the smallest state in Australia, it has the most diversity in growing conditions
for wine grapes. Cool climate varietals are the stars of Victoria, and the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can hold up to some of the best of Burgundy.
Chefs and winemakers partner to create experiences and events year round, placing Melbourne squarely on the map of great wine capitals. Think of it a bit like San Francisco is to Sonoma County– the good life is easy to find here. In fact, one of the attributes that draws me to Australia’s wine country is that food and wine pairings are easy to find — most of the wineries have excellent restaurants on site, many with Michelin stars.
I’m not going to cover all of the wineries and vineyards in Victoria (there are hundreds), just a few that are close to Melbourne.
In closest proximity to the city of Melbourne, Yarra Valley is easily Victoria’s most famous wine region. Yarra Valley is known for Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You’ll also find sparkling wine here too, thanks to Moet & Chandon. The Shiraz will sometime be labeled Syrah, indicating it is produced more in the northern Rhone style.
Start your day with some bubbles at Domain Chandon. The Chandon Brut was awarded the best Australian Sparkling Wine at the 2018 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London — why wouldn’t you want to start your day there. Domain Chandon is the only sparkling producer in Australia with French roots. Located on land that was once a failing dairy farm, it turned out to be perfect for vineyards.
There are two different tasting options available and a self-guided tour.—learn how sparkling wine is made in the methode champenois or tradition method. The tasting room is open daily
De Bortoli is a fourth generation family operated winery since 1928. The founders immigrated from Italy, bringing their Italian ways with them —family, friends, great food and wine are the most important things in life. I can’t disagree.
Today, De Bortoli has vineyards and tasting rooms in regions all across Australia. In Yarra Valley alone, there are three different vineyards sites! For food and wine pairing, visit the vineyards and cellar door at Dixon’s Creek. There are several tasting options and you can pair them with cheese plates.
De Bortoli has won numerous sustainability awards and leads the way in being responsible stewards for the earth. I like that.
If you love visiting small, under the radar wineries (and who doesn’t), make an appointment to visit Avani, where their Shiraz will “blow your mind,” according to Wine Enthusiast. I haven’t tried it but it sounds, well, mind-blowing. They wines are biodynamic too, good for the land, and good for you.
Only an hour away from Melbourne, Mornington is the place where beaches and wine combine in a sensory experience that leaves many visitors dreaming of opening a tasting room or bed and breakfast.
Wine country lifestyle includes haute local cuisine, art, and spectacular ocean views. There are beaches for swimming, sailing and walking. It’s a very popular weekend destination for Melburnians, and somewhat exclusive.
Insider tip: there is surfing at Mornington Peninsula, but the tides can be treacherous. If you’re a beginner check out the beaches near Pt. Leo
For killer Pinot Noir on the Mornington Peninsula, it’s hard to beat Paringa Estate.
Paringa’s story is one of trial and error turned James Halliday award winner; winemaker Lindsay McCall’s estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Shiraz have won numerous gold medals. That’s impressive, but not enough for Lindsay, he also wanted a restaurant serving the best quality local food to pair with his award-winning wines. He has achieved that.
The cellar door is open daily from 11:00 – 5:00 There are no winery tours.
Insider tip: there are good waves for beginners to surf near Point Leo at Shoreham
Moorooduc Estate is a relatively new winery which produces low intervention wines (mainly Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir), allowing natural yeast fermentation. Family owned, they take great care to acknowledge wine styles around the world. The McIntyre vineyard is the original estate vineyard and produces very pretty wines. Moorooduc also offers food and wine pairing and wherever possible, only organic. The cellar door is open daily from 11:00 – 5:00
Pt. Leo Estate
No trip to Mornington Peninsula would be complete without a visit to Pt. Leo Estate. a 50 million dollar wine estate that includes a sculpture garden and an award-winning restaurant, Laura. Time Out, Lonely Planet and Gourmet Traveler, have all proclaimed the restaurant at Pt. Leo one of the best dining experiences on the Peninsula.
If you can’t stay for the food do stop for the ocean views and a glass of their estate grown, single vineyard, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris. The cellar door is open daily.
When To Visit Australia
Don’t forget, Australia is in the southern hemisphere. If you want to visit during the harvest season, that would be May-June. Spring is October-November. Definitely need to know info.
If you’re planning on staying longer in Australia to explore more wine regions and the thousands of beautiful beaches, consider purchasing a camper van trailer. You can save money, travel at your own pace, meet locals and when it’s time to go home, sell it. Camping is a huge part of life in Australia – that means you’ll have no trouble finding nice camping areas no matter where you go.