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The Best of the Grape Grazing Festival

By Ella Pleasant - 02 Feb 2014

One of Melbourne's favourite food and wine events, the Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival, is back in full force, bigger and better than ever!

Kicking off on 14th February, the three-day festival will showcase the very best food, wine, cider and ale producers in the Yarra Valley, with over 60 spectacular venues hosting events.

A Grape Grazing Festival Weekend Pass will get you into over 30 grazing events across the Yarra Valley, as well as heaps of specials and discounts, all for a measly $25. That includes live music and entertainment, outdoor activities, French-themed afternoons and gourmet BBQs …and you get a souvenir glass, water bottle and spiffy lanyard to boot. Hello, value! 

In addition to the Weekend Pass events, there are a number of ticketed events that range from balloon flights to gourmet brunches, lunches, dinners, degustations and much, much more. 

Grape Grazing truly is the ultimate celebration of wine, scrumptious food, boutique ciders and craft beers. Not sure where to start? Here's our guide to a wonderful weekend of sipping and sampling, lazing and grazing at the Grape Grazing Festival.

VALENTINE'S OUTDOOR CINEMA 

Could there be any film more swoon-worthy than Breakfast at Tiffany's? It has all the winning ingredients for the ultimate romantic film: dangerously handsome neighbour, a diamond-loving socialite, and a cat.  This Valentine's Day you can watch Holly Golightly in all her dazzling glory outdoors on the big screen, with the backdrop of Rochford Wines and surrounding Yarra Ranges.  

We all know that, like movie watching, Victoria's freshest produce tastes best when eaten outside, so why not invest in the premium Grand Cru package? You'll get a gorgeous gourmet platter and bottle of fine wine for $120 per couple. You can hire bean beds/deckchairs on the night but make sure you bring a blanket to snuggle under.

Rochford Wines | 878 – 880 Maroondah Highway in Coldstream

14th February | 9:00pm – 11:00pm

Basic admission $20 per person | Grand Cru package $120 per couple

BELLA VEDERE

Italian for 'Beautiful To See', award-winning restaurant Bella Vedere more than lives up to its name, serving up delicious meals that are almost too pretty to eat (key word: ALMOST), topped off with breathtaking views of the Yarra Valley. As part of the Grape Grazing Festival, you can enjoy an original Gary Cooper regional lunch or romantic Valentine's dinner, each dish expertly matched with Levantine Hill wines. The ultimate celebration of Yarra Valley produce, with ingredients picked fresh from the vegie patch or sourced from down the road, this is one spot not to pass by!

Bella Vedere | 874 Maroondah Highway in Coldstream

Dinner | 14th February | 8:00pm – Midnight

Lunch | 15th February | 12:30pm – 4:00pm

To book, please call 03 5962 6161

MEET THE PREDATORS AT HEALESVILLE SANCTUARY 

Animal keepers will introduce you to Australia's most fearsome predators: from grazers (the animal kind, not festival attendees!) and carnivores, to those that swallow their food whole, you will get an opportunity to see them all in action! Eeep!

The predators aren't having all the scoffing fun here, though! Healesville Sanctuary will host a number of the Yarra Valley's boutique food and beverage producers, including Yarra Valley Cider and Trellis Wines up alongside a gourmet spread from the Healesville Hotel.

A Grape Grazing pass will snag you a 20% discount off the Sanctuary admission price, with kids free on weekends. Free to Zoos Victoria members.

Healesville Sanctuary | Badger Creek Road in Healesville

14th, 15th & 16th February | 9:00am – 5:00pm

GLOBAL BALLOONING SUNSET FLIGHTS

Get a birds-eye view of the vines from the spectacular heights of a hot air balloon! Global Ballooning will be running half hour sunset flights every day during the Grape Grazing Festival. Want to take your loved one's breath away? Book a sunset flight on Valentine's Day for some serious romantic cred. Love is most certainly in the air!

Global Ballooning | Corner Hill Road & Maroondah Highway in Coldstream

14th, 15th & 16th February | 6:30am – 8:30pm

To book, please call 03 9428 5703

WHITE RABBIT WIN(E)D DOWN

A smidge sick of all the wine? Knock yourself out of that plonk-induced haze and treat your taste buds to the hoppy, malty delights at White Rabbit. A brew is being created especially for Grape Grazing, and frankly, we can't wait to hop right in! 

White Rabbit | 316 Maroondah Highway in Healesville 

14th, 15th & 16th February | 11:00am – 5:30pm

HEALESVILLE BIG BREAKFAST IN THE MAIN STREET

On the Saturday morning, Healesville's main drag will be closed to traffic for the Healesville Big Breakfast!  Twenty vendors (yes, TWENTY!) will be opening their doors to Grape Grazing attendees, providing a scrumptious breakfast with loads of specials on offer. The friendly keepers from Healesville Sanctuary will be there too, and you may just spot a few of their furry, feathered and scaly friends at the breakfast table. Tip: Wear your Grape Grazing lanyard for a free coffee with your breakfast.

Healesville Big Breakfast | Maroondah Highway (Main Street) in Healesville 

15th February | 8:00am – 12:00pm 

A DAY ON THE GREEN

A Day On The Green's Aussie rock bonanza is back for another year, boasting an impressive lineup of the country's most loved performers. Leading the names is Jimmy Barnes, who'll be rocking Rochford alongside Baby Animals, Daryl Braithwaite and Jon Stevens & the Dead Daisies. It's a case of BYO rug, deckchair and picnic. Don't fancy a soggy sanga with your rock ballads? Don't stress – Yarra Valley's finest nosh and plonk will be available for purchase. 

Rochford Wines | 878 – 880 Maroondah Highway in Coldstream

15th February | 5:00pm – 10:00pm

General Admission tickets $89.90 per person

OPERA, SHOW TUNES & SLIDERS IN THE VINES 

Once the estate of Australia's most famous soprano, Dame Nellie Melba, Coombe Farm Wines is paying homage to its original owner with a fabulous weekend of opera, food and (of course) fine wine in their exquisite grounds. Grab a glass of Coombe Farm wine, snack on a slider and enjoy the talents of some of Australia's most celebrated up-and-coming opera stars belting out tunes in the vines. Not to be missed!

Coombe Farm Wines | 11 St Huberts Road in Coldstream

15th & 16th February | Tasting room open 10:00am – 5:00 pm | Entertainment 12:00pm – 4:00pm

DE BORTOLI TRADITIONAL GRAZE 

Pay a visit to De Bortoli over the weekend to pick up a picnic hamper (or a wood fired pizza), sip a glass or three of their finest drop, and kick back to some seriously good live music. Need a little break from all the wine? The Melbourne Gin Company will be mixing their dangerously good G&T's under the gazebo. 

De Bortoli | 58 Pinnacle Lane in Dixons Creek

15th & 16th February | 11:00am – 4:00pm

SQUITCHY LANE GOURMET SAUSAGE SIZZLE

Join Mike Fitzpatrick at his cellar door for a gourmet sausage BBQ accompanied by a glass of Squitchy Lane wine. The footy legend will be on the tongs from 12:00pm – 3:00pm, so grab a snag, a glass of pinot and get ready to talk footy and wine. 

Squitchy Lane Vineyard | 9 Medhurst Road in Gruyere

15th & 16th February | 12:00pm – 3:00pm

CHATEAU YERING'S CHAMPAGNE GARDEN PARTY 

Chateau Yering is hosting a garden party filled with French champagne, dainty canapés and live classical music – another unmissable Grape Grazing event. Garden guests will enjoy Pommery champagne and feast on the gourmet selections created by Executive Chef Mathew Macartney from Eleonore's Restaurant. Coldstream Hills will be supplying the delicious vino, while those in need of a pep-up can enjoy the offerings from Vittoria Coffee. Bliss! 

Chateau Yering | 42 Melba Highway in Yering

16th February | 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Tickets $275 per person

To book, please call 03 9237 3333

DOMINIQUE PORTET – SIMPLY FRENCH

Baguettes, croissants, charcuterie…ooh la la! Dominique Portet are celebrating everything wonderfully French with special lunch offerings on the Sunday. Alongside the French fare there'll be Dominique Portet's Brut Rose, as well as craft beer and cider, to keep the local good vibes rolling. Try your hand at petanque or sit back with a chunk of paté on the lawn. Très bon!  

Dominique Portet | 870 Maroondah Highway in Coldstream

16th February | 11:00am – 5:00pm

Avoid the dreaded designated driver discussion and book in a tour. Grape Grazing have not only compiled a list of companies that can transport you from venue to venue, they've also put together an itinerary for you! Click here for all the details.

Why not make a weekend of it and stay in the region? Click here to see Grape Grazing's favourite sleeping spots in the Yarra Valley. We've got our eye on Woodlands Rainforest Retreat's luxury bungalows; hidden away in acres of rainforest, they'd make the perfect romantic getaway. Heaven! 

Image Credit: Jennifer Joyce

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