Local Escapes

The Essential Guide To The Best Wine (And Vanilla Slice!) In Victoria

By Clare Acheson
21st Nov 2016

Let’s be honest. There’s a lot of wine to be quaffed in our fair city, but finding the best of it can be tricky—nobody wants to waste those precious daily alcohol units on something that tastes like it would be more at home flushing out ute engines. There’s one failsafe wine trail that we keep returning to when our cellars run dry: Maddens Lane.

Tucked away in the heart of the Yarra Ranges, Maddens Lane is home to some of Victoria’s most delicious wineries. At only an hour’s drive out of Melbourne—or an hour’s coach or train ride… You will be drinking a LOT of wine, after all—it’s the ideal day-out for everyone from wine novices to bona fide vino experts. Want to know where you should be sipping, shopping and snacking on a vanilla slice that’s the size of your head? Read on…

Australia’s Cutest Cellar Door, Maddens Rise

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we stepped into the petite Maddens Rise cellar door, which is housed in a cute stand-alone building right next to the vineyards. Taking an artisan approach to wine making that’s more about blending wines to taste really damn good, rather than focusing on prestige bottlings, the Maddens Rise vineyard is home to a wide variety of small plantings, making for some of the most interesting wines in the valley. Go for the Arcobaleno white—an incredible mix of Italian flavours!—and the savoury shiraz, which tastes like the wine equivalent of a bloody Mary. Delicious.

The Local’s Secret: Check out Squitchy Lane

One of the best hidden wine lovers’ destinations in the Yarra Valley, Squitchy Lane is the name to drop if you’re wanting an in with the locals. Playing by their own rules, the Squitchy Lane team make their sauvingnon blanc like a chardonnay (in barrels, rather than in bottles), and the venue itself is the perfect suntrap for an afternoon stop-off. Our top tip? The Fume Blanc is so good that both our photographer and journalist bought a bottle to take home after one sip.

Wine, Share Platters & The Most Epic Vanilla Slice At Medhurst

When it comes to food and wine pairing, we’re had pushed to find a match we like better than an epic dessert and a glass of something to go with it. Thankfully, Medhurst have both on lock down, as well as the most decadent cheese, charcuterie and fish platters that we found in the region. This winery is known for its delicious rose, as well as a mouth-watering shiraz that, like anything in life, is best enjoyed with the cured meat platter. As for the vanilla slices? Just check out the gallery above… You know where you’ll be lunching.

Feel Like You’re Holidaying In France At Dominique Portet

Coldstream’s Dominique Portet winery is the epitome of rural France, only you’ll find it a stone’s throw from Healesville. Relocating from Bordeaux to Victoria, the Portet family have been making wine for a whopping ten generations, so they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to getting the most out of a grape harvest. Their cellar door offers tastings and cheese platters, and everything speaks of the team’s love of wine their craft. Borrow a bicycle and take a ride through the vineyards, or relax with a glass of Fontaine rose, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon while admiring the scenery.

Brush Up On Your Botanical Knowledge At Yarra Yering

If you’re all about tracking down the most heritage-fuelled wine in Victoria, get to Yarra Yering. This beautiful winery was established by a botanical genius in the sixties and as a result, is surrounded by fig trees, avocado trees, apple trees, pear trees and wild flowers. You’ll find fascinating antique books as well as the most incredible limited release wines here. Be sure to try the effortless blends, listed as Dry White 1 and Dry Red 1-3, and if you’re looking for something to age, pick up a Black Label bottle, which will have come from a one or two-barrel selection.

Want Award-Winning Everything? Head To Coldstream Hills

There’s a reason that Coldstream Hills’ trophy cabinet has overflowed into its tasting bar area. Owned by wine critic James Halliday, this winery makes some of the best chardonnay and sparkling wine in Australia and, thankfully, comes with none of the pretence. So what if you’re a total wine novice? Let the Coldstream team talk you through the basics of wine know-how and you’ll be learning from the best in the land.

Find The Best Views In Victoria At Tokar Estate

For the most breath-taking views and full-bodied reds in the Yarra Valley, head to Tokar Estate. Situated on a hill that overlooks the area’s vineyards, this stately home is also privy to its own rose garden, a dining menu devised by an ex-Shane Delia chef, and an umbrella-covered outdoor deck. The pinot noir was a recent ‘best in show’ winner at the Yarra Valley Wine Show, and the tempranillo is definitely worth checking out too. No one will judge you for picking up one of each?

Melbourne’s an incredible city, but sometimes we all need to get out of town for a weekend. The Urban List has partnered with Visit Victoria to bring you our Get Out Of Town! Series—the ultimate guide to Victoria’s rural gems. For more ideas about where to wander in near Maddens Lane, click here.

Image credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List

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