So this is Australian wine country…

Tokar Estate vineyards - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna-3

On the great booze divide, I’m very much in the beer camp. I’ll take a good stout or blanche over a glass of wine any day.

If I’m going to be really honest? I generally can’t tell a bottle of $40 wine from a bottle worth $4. I get nervous when waiters ask me to try the bottle first. I can smell if my wine has turned into vinegar, but that is the general extent of my appreciation of vino.

Also, I’m allergic to most red wines.

Dominique Portet barrel - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

*No, cask of Shiraz, no lie.

So why take a wine tour? Why would I pay good money to spend seven hours drinking glass after glass of something I can barely distinguish from grape juice I left in the fridge too long?

(KIDDING, friends who like wine. I’m not that bad. Please still invite me to your dinners.)

Because wine country is beautiful.

Chandon Vineyards - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaChandon Vineyards trees - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaChandon Vineyards picnic- Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

Case in point: Domaine Chandon, the first stop on our Yarra Valley wine tour. (They’re the ones with the star on the label — related to but not quite the same as Moët & Chandon.)

Because Melbourne’s Yarra Valley produces some great white wines.

Dominique Portet barrels - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

Or at least, I think they do (again, see above on my wine judging qualifications.) Joe said they were tasty so I trust his judgment. I don’t trust mine; slap a Sauvignon Blanc label on any bottle of white and I’ll probably love it.

Either way: the white wines didn’t give me an allergy reaction that made me want to claw my throat out, so +1.

Because you get to try a lot of wine — and learn what you don’t like.

Chandon Vineyards pours - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

Like the sickly sweet bubbly rosé at Domaine Chandon. Or, really, most of the wines we tried there. Chandon, your grounds are lovely, but I’ll stick to the Moët, thanks.

Because you get to discover new ones you do!

Dominique Portet wines - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaDominique Portet wine - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

I’m not very adventurous with wine: I find a bottle I like, and stick with it. (Every host of every house party I’ve ever attended in Paris has received the same bottle of white Burgundy.) But wine tours get you out of that comfort boring zone and suddenly you’re allll about the 2014 Yarra Valley rosé.

Plus they make great souvenirs for a friend, or yourself. We’ve got a bottle from Dominique Portet chilling at home, just waiting for the right oysters to accompany it.

Because it’s good to get out of the city.

Dominique Portet vintage Chevy - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaDominique Portet outdoor seating - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaDominique Portet yard - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaEXPLORE license plate - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

Even this diehard city girl has to admit, it’s good to get out and into nature every once in a while. If only for a day…and if only to remember why you love the city so much. Absence makes the heart grow boozy!

Because, seriously, look how pretty:

Tokar Estate fountain - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna-2Tokar Estate fountain - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaTokar Estate vineyards - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna-4Coldstream Hills - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna Coldstream Hills view - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat Edna

Pictured above: the vineyards of Tokar Estate and Coldstream Hills. Not the worst way to spend a Monday.

Because you like getting boozy with strangers.

Tokar Estate vineyards - Yarra Valley Wine Tour Melbourne by Expat EdnaWine tour van against Melbourne city skyline by Expat Edna

Wine tours are a crapshoot in terms of company. I’ll admit that at first, I thought the other 20-somethings in our van were loud and obnoxious, and only on the wine tour to get drunk.

BUT, by the end of lunchtime at the fourth vineyard, we had all bonded — and after eight hours together, we still stuck around after the tour and continued on at a bar (with beer!) in Melbourne’s CBD. The others even invited us to a bunch of New Year’s parties that weekend, and we were kind of bummed to decline since we were off to Sydney the next day.

Long story short: you never know who you’re going to meet on these things, but it’s hard not to like them after the sixth hour of wine tasting.

Where’s your favorite destination to take a wine tour?

***

Practical Info

Yarra Valley is an easy day trip, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. After searching far too many websites, we went with Wine Tours Victoria. It was pleasant, great service, nothing to complain about, but nothing exceptional either. We paid 165 AUD (~130 USD) per person, which included a light tea & breakfast, lunch, and a visit to five wineries:

– Domaine Chandon
– Dominique Portet
– Coldstream Hills
– Tokar Estate (where we also had lunch)
– Punt Road (the guy here was super grumpy and passive aggressive, would not recommend.)

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Comments

  1. Gorgeous. I wish I had taken the time to do that while I was in Melbourne. And, allergic to most red wines?? That would be like telling me I couldn’t eat chocolate anymore. Or consume pizza. Or breathe. Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic. But only a little.

    Great post :)

    http://www.adventurousappetite.com

  2. I’m totally a wine person (didn’t used to be though!). I think my absolute favourite vineyards are in Lavaux, Switzerland. The wine might not be the best in the World (although I wouldn’t really be able to tell, either), but it’s so beautiful there that the view itself makes up for it!

    • The vineyards in Switzerland are so gorgeous! I loved driving through Lausanne and Montreux for those views.

  3. I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula so not far from some fairly amazing wineries. At the time all the tourists went to the Yarra Valley (which is still great) so it was like a local thongs to do to ‘pop down’ to Dromana Estate for lunch or spend an afternoon stocking up around Red Hill/Main Ridge.

    • That sounds like such a lovely thing to be able to do! “Oh just popping out for an afternoon on the vineyard…”

  4. BEAUTIFUL.

  5. I too had a great time wine tasting in Australia, but in Hunter Valley near Sydney. I was with my parents and only 19 at the time, which is the drinking age in Australia, so that made it better! Back home in California, my favorite wine tasting spots are Paso Robles and Los Olivos in central California

    • I’ve heard of Paso Robles but not Los Olivos – the only other wine tour I’ve been on was in Sonoma, I think, north of San Fransisco – it was two weeks after my 21st birthday and I remember that made it all the more fun! :)

  6. I’ve never taken a wine tour but I definitely want to. I love a good bottle (I mean, glass *ahem*) of wine any day over spirits or beer. :D The only kind of alcohol tour I’ve taken is through a mezcal factory and through a tequilaria. Both of which I’d definitely recommend if you find yourself in Mexico. ;-)