There's a couple of reasons why it might be a better choice to go on a tour to Yarra Valley instead of driving. For one, everyone gets their share of fun with no unfortunate souls having to sit out on the wine tasting because they are the designated drivers (equal opportunity for everyone) also if you are a slightly larger group you can travel together and annoy each other all the way there and back.
With summer heading our way, it seems a good time to enjoy some wine and pretty Yarra Valley scenery. It also gives you a chance to throw on some summery outfits, oversized sun hats and shades to look the part for drinking wine.
We took a tour with The Wines Guys, and the guides were friendly and hospitable. The buses were comfortable and air conditioned and my friend even got some shut eye on the way back (probably all that wine helped too). We took the 'Melbourne's Cheapest wine tour' priced at $99 per person. This tour included wine tastings at three wineries, a light lunch and departs 9.30am from Fed Square daily and returns around 3:15pm.
We knew we had arrived in Yarra Valley, a fairly short drive from the CBD when we could see gentle hills covered in rows of grape vines. It was picture perfect with blue skies and lots of sun shine. The first stop was at St.Huberts winery. Another great thing about a winery tour is if you are a neophyte to the art of wine drinking (like me) you can sit back and relax and not stress about what is good. The wine makers go through the arduous job of explaining which wine is which in lay terms understood universally. All you have to do is taste and decide whether you would like a bottle to take home.
The choice was made even easier as they explained the etiquette for the wines once they are taken home; which wines you really want to age for a special occasion, which wines taste pretty decent even if downed it the next day and also handy tips like the temperature to store them at. The Viognier, a dessert wine I had at St.Huberts was decidedly my favourite out all the wines I tasted that day (yes, I have a sweet tooth). All though dessert wines are generally served in those dainty little shot glass versions of the wine world I could have easily finished off a full normal sized glass of this (no, I don't think I have a problem…yet).
The second winery on the tour was Badger's Brook Estate. This was a small family run winery which looked like it was out of a movie set. Their house made me believe I was in the South of France and not in Australia, it also had a gorgeous outdoor patio with a stone floor, Timber columns and vine wrapped pergolas framing a view of the lush, green vineyard. And here we sat for the next part of the tour, sipping more wines while we tucked into the bag crisps we brought. I have to say I did quite lose count of all the wines I was drinking at this point, however it was a perfect lazy summer afternoon.
The final stop on the tour was the Hanrahan vineyard. Out of all the places this was definitely the largest and had the prettiest setting. Hills surrounded us in every direction with small reservoirs, roses and lavender bushes. We were also given our light lunch here and we finished up the small sandwiches, carrots, cheese and crackers while we sat outside under the shade of outdoor umbrellas enjoying the view. It's also a good place to take some pictures to remember your day.
This marked the end of our tour as soon after lunch we set off back to the city. The wine tour is also a good way to get some deals on wines as they are often cheaper than store retail price and you can get bulk discounts. So if you team up with other people from the tour, this is a good way to save some money on buying wines for the festive season. While we did the Cheapest Wine tour there are some other tour options if you want to pay a little extra for a more private and longer tour. It's also a good idea for a coperate function or hen's/buck's night or for family/friend reunions.
I think this is a good way to spend some quality time with friends in summer as well as becoming a wine expert so that next time you don't accidently skull your wine. Maybe I'm the only one who has done that. In my defense, I was in a hurry. So if you are looking for summery things to do this summer, spoil yourself a bit and unwind with good company, this is something worth looking into.