24 hours in the Yarra Valley
We could spend weeks in the Yarra Valley and still find ourselves surprised by new discoveries - not just world class pinot noir and chardonnay either, although there’s plenty of that. If you’ve only got 24 hours though, here’s an itinerary of some of our favourite places to hit up.
Where to breakfast
Hutch in Lilydale is an ideal starting point if you’re looking for a solid start to the day ahead. Located at the footsteps of the Yarra Valley, their hearty and healthy breakfast menu is perfectly placed to get your body and spirit fully prepped for a day discovering your new favourite wines.
If you’re keen to get out amongst it ASAP though, Warrandyte Bakery is a local fave - on the cusp of Warrandyte State Park you can grab breakfast and then wander a short (or long) way along the Yarra River amongst the manna gums before heading out into the Valley proper.
Where to begin
It’s difficult to picture the fact that you’re only 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD when you’re at Rob Dolan Wines, being guided through a tasting flight on the veranda of the cellar door and overlooking a parcel of their vines out front. A real incubator of what makes the Yarra Valley special, Stone & Crow cheese operate out of the same location, giving you the option to pair up with a cheeseboard or grazing platter of local faves - the Four Pillars Distillery also started life here too, before moving to its digs in Healesville. Founded by double premiership winning ex-AFL player Rob (the founder of Sticks and Punt Road wines to boot), chances are you’ll bump into a member of the family (shoutout to Ben, winery GM), or their five-star wine dog Merlot.
Focusing on premium fruit quality from sites across the Yarra Valley, you’ll also have the opportunity to sample their small parcel Black Label series too, showcasing alternative varieties from the Yarra Valley. You’ll be thinking ahead to your next visit as soon as you set off on the road again, probably with a bottle or two in hand.
Next, head deeper into the heart of the Yarra Valley to Warramunda Estate in Coldstream. Here winemaker Liv Zak-Magdziarz, daughter of founders Robert & Irene Magdziarz, focuses on wines that reflect their unique terroir. Sustainability is at the core of their ethos, combining organic and biodynamic philosophies to reflect and respect the earth in which the grapes are grown, with all wines being made from estate grown fruit.
With plantings of chardonnay, viognier, marsanne, pinot noir, syrah and cabernet sauvignon finding their way into single varietals, parcels of cabernet franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot also allow Liv to craft Bordeaux-style cab blends, plus a straight malbec that’s picking up silverware.
Open Friday-Sunday, their cellar door also specialises in platters heroing local and international charcuterie, cheese and seafood, plus seasonal specials you’ll find chalked up at the cellar door. Book in for a tasting and take in the magnificent surroundings that the team here are pouring into each drop.
Where to lunch
De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley offer that one-two combination of a cellar door with an extensive selection of their wines on tasting, plus the winery restaurant 'Locale', offering Italian-inspired dishes that celebrate the abundance of local and seasonal produce available, with many of the ingredients grown on their Yarra Valley Estate. Reflecting the De Bortoli family's Italian heritage in name and nature, take a seat in the sunny dining room overlooking the vines to enjoy the very best the Yarra Valley has to offer, matched with quality estate grown wines. They’re open Thursday through Monday for lunch from 12pm - bookings pretty much essential.
Where to wander
After a morning well spent soaking up the splendour of some of the Yarra Valley’s finest wines, Warrandyte State Park is perfect for a nature bath - quite literally, if you’re feeling inclined there’s even the option to dip your toes in the river at Pound Bend (though check out the local guidance - and consider how much you’ve imbibed before taking a dip - we don’t want to see you do a Harold Holte). There’s a variety of walks available to cater for every distance and fitness level, though our pick if you’ve got the time would be to do the Mount Lofty Loop, where you can take in stunning views of the Valley alongside the river.
Sugarloaf Reserve is also a hidden gem - a water catchment for Melbourne, it’s serviced by numerous picnic sites, toilets and carpacks dotted around its 10 mile circumference, depending on how long of a leg stretch you’re feeling up to.
Where to fuel up
If you need a cheeky pit stop during your pilgrimage, the Yarra Valley Dairy is open for service between 10:30 - 16:00, seven days a week. Stocking a range of award-winning delicious regional and specialist produce, tasting plates are available to eat in with locally baked fresh breads and charcuterie sourced from the region too. Plus, they also have a pretty decent line up of wines, craft beers and ciders selected from the local area, available for purchase by the glass, or to take home.
Where to finish
Head to the Halliday five-star rated Mandala Wines, owned and operated by winemaker Charles Smedley and fam. His Yarra Junction vineyard (first planted in ‘99) was selected for its high altitude, allowing his pinot noir vines to develop their elegance. The Dixons Creek vineyard (where the cellar door resides) harvests chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and merlot, amidst the kangaroos that graze between the vines. Hand-tended, hand-selected, low-yielding; the wines focus on fully expressing what the sites do so well. Their farm-to-table Di Vino Restaurante, attached to the cellar door, also gives you the option to indulge in an Italian-inspired menu that’s rotated based on the seasonal availability of the kitchen garden and local products.
Where to dine
Heading back to the city but not ready for an early night? Excellent - we’ve prepared a hitlist of the top BYO restaurants in Melbourne for you to head with that bottle (or two) you’ve picked up on the road today. And after that? Well, the night is young, mofo. We’ll leave you to it.
Keen to take a trip to the Yarra Valley from home? Shop our latest from the region here.