The Yarra Valley, located about an hour from Melbourne, is the oldest wine-producing region in Victoria. It dates back to 1838. The Yarra Valley offers a wide range of wines but is most famous for its chardonnay varieties and pinot noirs. These are the best grapes to use for sparkling wine.
The Yarra River is Melbourne’s main river. It begins on the southern slopes of the Great Dividing Range, then twists its way through the forested valleys in the Yarra Ranges. After passing through Melbourne, it ends its journey at Port Phillip Bay. The Yarra Valley is a pristine environment that is home to stunning landscapes and beautiful native forests. It is also one of Melbourne’s major water catchment areas, with around 3,800 hectares currently under vine. As a cool climate area, the Yarra Valley offers a variety of cellar doors.
It’s a bit like home when you visit, and with so many beautiful cellar doors showcasing the cool climate varieties of the region, it is a lot more bubbly fun! The Yarra Valley is always a homey place to visit, with many cellar doors that showcase the cool climate varieties of the region. It’s a lot of bubbly fun, too!
Yering Station, in the Yarra Valley, was Victoria’s first commercially oriented vineyard. The Scottish Ryrie brothers planted the vines in 1838. However, it was not until Paul de Castella became the owner that the first Yarra Valley wine was produced in 1845. This story is one I heard when I was a TAFE trainer of tour guides. The Yarra Valley was one of my training tours. It is one of the most beautiful day trips you can take outside of Melbourne. After Paul de Castella became owner, new vines from France were imported, and production increased. The ‘heyday of the region’ was marked by international recognition, including the Grand Prix awarded at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1889.
In the 1860s, several vineyards were established in the Yarra Valley. Guillaume de Pury and Hubert de Castella planted Yeringburg and St Hubert’s, respectively, in 1864. By the turn of the century, plantings had reached almost 1,000 acres. The area, like many wine regions, was devastated by the insect pest phylloxera. In the 1920s, the last vines of this era were removed, and the land was returned to pasture.
In the 1960s, there was a slight resurgence, and new vineyards were planted. This included the re-establishment of Yeringburg’s and St Hubert’s. In the 1980s, there were only a few vineyards in the area, but it was more of a food bowl, with orchards and other crops. In 1989, Victoria’s first commercially planted vineyard, Yering Station (now called Chandon), was replanted. That year also saw the release of the first Domaine Chandon cuvees. In 1982, as part of a strategy to expand and innovate the French Champagne House Moet en Chandon following successful ventures in Argentina & California, the company conducted a nationwide search for wine-growing regions. They chose the Yarra Valley in Australia.
The Yarra Valley has over eighty wineries. It is a popular tourist attraction and also home to many smaller wine producers. Each winery reflects the diversity of the terroir and the passion of the producers. They also demonstrate mastery over traditional practices. It is a center for innovation, and it’s home to some of the most dynamic, progressive winemakers in the entire world.
The Yarra Valley has something to offer everyone. With a wide range of new varieties gaining in popularity and prestige, the Yarra Valley provides a little bit for everyone. The Yarra Valley is a popular destination for day trips, but it’s also a place where you can easily stay a few nights. For a day trip, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. These include family-friendly activities, wine tastings, and nature experiences.
It would be best if you had a designated Driver for Cellar Door Visits. It is better to hire a driver for a relaxing day or book with a tour operator. You can choose between personalized small groups and larger coaches for a day out.
This list is not an exhaustive list of Sparkling Cellar Doors in the area. It was compiled from multiple visits and highlighted the top sparklings of the region. I have grouped them into sub-regions for you to plan your trip. This is a good mix of both large-scale Cellar Doors and small boutique offerings. I have included links to the Cellar Doors. I recommend that you confirm their opening hours and make bookings before your trip.
DIXONS CREEK AREA
This little stretch of Melba Highway has enough sparkling to last a whole day. Start at Sutherland Estate and taste your way back toward Yarra Glen.
Sutherland Estate is a family-owned business located in Dixon’s Creek. The cellar Door has a cathedral ceiling with huge floor-to-ceiling windows. The Cellar Door is located high up on a hillside with a large deck that offers a stunning view of the vineyards. The Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, and Warburton Ranges are all visible. Enjoy a glass of wine and a cheeseboard while listening to birdsong. Two small apartment-style rooms are available for overnight stays. They have spiral staircases that lead up to the bedrooms and provide views.
I met Cathy, who told me her parents founded the Cellar Door and vineyard here. Now, she and her family have taken the reins as the next generation.
Here, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are planted, with sparklings that highlight these red grapes. This vineyard also has Tempranillo, a Spanish variety. They have created a sparkling red using this variety.
2016 Blanc de Noir Sparkling
This wine is made using 100% Pinot Noir in the traditional method. It undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle and ages for a year. This sparkling white wine is made from all red fruits that have not been on the skin. You may see a slight blushing in the color, like this. After 4 1/2 years of aging on the lees, it is disgorged late, giving a generous and complex sparkling. Aromas of almond, honey, almond, and brioche. It’s balanced on the palate with fruity mid-palate flavors – cherry, berry and marzipan.
2021 Sparkling Tempranillo
It was the latest release and is a unique sparkling red, as we don’t see a Tempranillo very often in Australia. It’s been made for ten years. The grapes are grown on-site and spend months in barriques. After secondary fermentation in the bottle, using traditional methods, the wine is aged for 12 months on lees. The color is inky purple. It is a sparkling wine, so the dosage is 25g/L. This is to balance the tannins. The mid-palate is bursting with berries, dark cherry, licorice, and peppery spice, while the finish has earthy undertones. This wine would go well with cheese, charcuterie, and even dark chocolate pudding.