The chardonnay tastes better than pinot noir. My tour mates and I had probably realised this at exactly same time, until we had our next glass of wine Shiraz. That’s the thing about a wine tasting tour in Yarra Valley; one minute you’re a complete novice not aware that wine is supposed to taste like a fruit because it is made from fermented grapes, and the next minute you’re already talking about the level of yeast nutrients added in winemaking.
All my life I had associated the word tour with a lifeless formal meet where you barely interact with your fellow visitors. This changed one chilly morning on my first tour with Dancing Kangaroo Tours. More than a typical tour, It was basically a fun interactive trip with friends you never met before.
Our day began with an early 9 am meet up outside Federation Square near Flinders Street Station. Sean, the tour guide, was all smily ready to start the day. Even though the weather was not as expected, he was calm and quite positive that we’d have a great day – just as planned.
Our first stop was at Sky High Restaurant on Mount Dandenong, an hours drive from Melbourne CBD.
After we introduced ourselves, we grabbed a cup of piping hot Chai latte and spend a few minutes basking in the views.
Next, we headed to William Ricketts sanctuary set amid forest-clad hills of Mount Dandenong.
The sanctuary is named after the explorer William Ricketts, who believed in preserving the environment and culture of Aboriginals through his artwork. He created 92-kiln baked clay sculptures amid the natural setting of rocks, mountain ash and fern trees.
As a person with an eye for creativity, I was amazed by his intricate artwork that would make any visitor contemplate the essence of his ultimate vision.
After a short drive through the gorgeous countryside of Yarra Valley, we reached our first winery – Dominique Portet Winery.
“Our table has been waiting for us”, Sean points to a large table outside the winery, facing the vineyard and lots of green space.
Victoria’s first wine was planted in Yarra Valley in a vineyard at Yering Station in 1838. Now, the Yarra is home to more than 60 wineries with cellar doors and almost 4000 hectares of vineyards. Fortunately, I got to visit two of the most famous ones.
“A good glass of wine doesn’t depend entirely on how we wineries prepare it, the weather and the geographical region also play a major role in the entire winemaking process”, says Tim. Yarra’s cool climate and fertile red soils produce some classic wines. Though the region is particularly suitable for growing grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, there is an extensive planting of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz.
Dominique, the chief behind the label Dominique Portet spent his vintages with renowned giants like Moët & Chandon in France, and Clos du Val in California’s Napa Valley. The end result is a glass of wine that is purely divine.Tim offered us 6 samples of red and white wines. At this stage, you can choose the sophisticated method, where you empty the taster into a container after a sip or two or you can simply swill down each sample before the next one arrives – trust me they really don’t judge.
During lunch, we sat around large tables, getting to know each other.
Within a twenty-minute drive, we were at TarraWarra Estate Winery on Healesville, our second winery of the day.
Frank poured us some samples after a little introduction. By now, we were experts in swirling, sniffing, and tasting the wine. It all came naturally.
Feeling a little light-headed and happy, my newly made friends and I head towards the lake outside TarraWarra winery to enjoy a bit more of the nature.
We ended our day with a short visit to Maroondah Reservoir Park, known for its dam that supplies potable water for Greater Metropolitan Melbourne.
I run out of superlatives when I think of my time with a group of friends, eating some good food washed down by delicious red wine – in a table just as large – overlooking the lush Victorian countryside.
Booking a Wine Tasting Tour in Yarra Valley
- Dancing Kangaroo (DK) offers wine tasting tours in Yarra Valley, and Mornington Peninsula.
- The founder and tour guide, Sean, is more than happy to listen to your special preferences on wineries but I think you must rather allow him to surprise you.
- If it’s your friend’s birthday, or you’re just in mood to surprise your favorite person, DK can organise a private tour exclusively for you.
- Tour itineraries are not the same everyday, which means you may not have a similar experience as me.
- In addition to wineries, vineyard and nature tours, DK Tours offer trips to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, and Innocent Bystander at Yarra Valley. They’ve recently added brewery and many more places to their list.
- For package prices and other information, get in touch with Sean through DK’s official website or Meet up Group.
Have you been on a wine tasting tour? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Special thanks to Sean for hosting me, but as always all opinions are entirely my own.