Lying just east of state capital, Melbourne, the wineries of the Yarra Valley are Victoria’s most popular wine destination and wine tourism is an important local industry.
Creative wineries in the Yarra Valley have established some of Australia’s most glamorous cellar doors and restaurants, making the region a top draw for Melbournians and visitors to Australia alike. Perfect for either a day trip or a relaxing weekend.
An eclectic range of wines to suit all tastes
The valley’s elevation makes it one of Australia’s coolest wine regions and its hilly topography with its varied terroir, slopes and heat sinks means Yarra Valley wineries are able to grow an eclectic range of varieties and craft an innovative array of world-class wines, from high-quality sparkling wines to elegant, structured reds.
Burgundian varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir rule the roost in wineries in Yarra Valley, with these two varieties accounting for more than 60% of production. Chardonnay is widely regarded as Yarra’s premium grape variety and has seen a revival in interest thanks to its new lighter, less oaky style. The excessively oaky, buttery style of Chardonnay long associated with Australia is no longer in vogue and cooler regions such as Yarra are at the forefront of leaner, more acidity-driven styles with little or no malolactic fermentation. Its Burgundy stablemate, Pinot Noir, is adept at reflecting the region’s varied vineyard and growing conditions, yielding elegant wines ranging from the fruity, perfumed and aromatic to the savoury, earthy and structured. The Upper Yarra, higher and cooler, provides the best sites to grow these most noble varietals. Grapes from cooler sites form the basis of world-class sparkling wines, which are also high on the list of the best wineries.
Yarra Valley’s warmer Valley Floor is the stamping ground of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, which are gaining increasing recognition for their aromatic character and elegance. Shiraz is often co-fermented with a small percentage of Viognier for aroma and texture and some boutique wineries are now choosing to label their wines Syrah due to its more elegant style.
Yarra’s Sauvignon Blanc, another mainstay of the region comes in both fruit-forward and more savoury styles and Pinot Gris, aka Pinot Grigio, is produced in two styles reflecting its two names – light, dry and crisp, and rounder and richer. A growing range of other varieties are also planted, including Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, Syrah’s white Rhône counterparts.
Wine Paths will help you uncover the best winery tours Yarra Valley has to offer
Although the region has a history stretching back over 170 years with the founding of its first winery, Yarra Valley can also be considered a young wine region. Wine production was already in full swing by the by the 1880s, yet Yarra valley was hit by a series of woes in the early twentieth century – economic decline, Australian wine preferences moving towards fortified wines and full-bodied reds, thus impacting cool-climate viticulture, coupled with the threat of Phylloxera – which led to vines being uprooted in favour of more profitable crops and by 1937 the region was almost entirely converted to dairy farming.
Interest in the region as a wine region was rekindled in the 1960s and 1970s and the Yarra Valley became home to a second wave of wine pioneers, with the Yarra Valley wineries list growing once again. Yarra Valley now attracts revolutionary winemakers who enjoy experimenting yet also respect the traditions of the region. The region’s rich viticultural history coupled with the chance of a fresh start make the Yarra Valley one of Australia’s most exciting and vibrant wine regions to visit.
Our local expert at Wine Paths can design exciting private winery tours. Yarra Valley is your oyster, just waiting to be discovered.
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