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Dog at Rob Dolan Winery
Photograph: Rob Dolan Winery

The best wineries in the Yarra Valley

Visit these cellar doors in the Yarra Valley, and make sure you buy some wine to take home

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Written by
Cassidy Knowlton
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There's a reason the Yarra Valley is one of the most visited wine regions in the world. It's only an hour from Melbourne, making it the perfect day trip or weekend away. The region specialises in chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, which also happen to make perfect sparkling wine. But if you know where to look, you'll also find less common varietals, like nebbiolo, savagnin and chenin blanc.

There are 160 wineries to try in the region, from tiny mum-and-pop operations to giant foreign-owned behemoths. Don't know where to start? These are our favourite wineries in the Yarra Valley right now.  

For more mini-break ideas, visit our guide to Victoria's best getaways. Alternatively, stay close to the city and discover Melbourne's best wine bars.

Yarra Valley wineries we love

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  • Gruyere

There is a large cellar door and tasting room inside Helen and Joey Estate, but if the weather is good the best seats in the house are outside on the terrace, overlooking the vines and gently rolling hills. If the winery isn't slammed, you might get lucky enough to be able to work your way through the wines on tasting in this spot. If you'd like to nosh as you sip, you can also get snacks and charcuterie, and you can of course buy a bottle or two to enjoy in your primo location – plus a few to take home.

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  • Warrandyte South

The winery uses fruit from all over Victoria to make a cracking range of cool-climate wines, from the entry-level, fruit-forward True Colours range through the White Label, Black Label and premium Signature Series drops. There are the traditional Yarra Valley pinot noir and chardonnay varietals here (including a spectacular malolactic fermentation chardy), as well as gorgeous cabernet sauvignons, which is a varietal with a long history in the Yarra Valley.

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  • Bars
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  • Coldstream

Mark and Fiona Horrigan, who run Pimpernel, take their winemaking seriously, and their drops reflect the characteristics of the grapes. They are also serious about terroir – so serious, in fact, that Mark's mother pocketed a couple of limestones from a pinot noir vineyard in Burgandy. When they returned to Australia, Mark had the stones analysed and subsequently buried more than 250 tonnes of similar crushed limestone in his own vineyard. The pinot noir grapes that grow above it produce some of the best pinot the Yarra Valley has to offer. Fruit is picked by hand, and little is done to it to interfere with the natural fermentation process. 

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  • Wineries
  • Coldstream

Though the Dominique Portet winery was only founded in 2000, it's the project of a ninth-generation winemaker from Bordeaux. The Dominique Portet winery in the rolling hills of Yarra Valley offers a cellar door open daily, and the restaurant serves country-style lunches (think snack platters, cheese, charcuterie and even snails) ideal for a post-wine tasting meal. Taste the Fontaine rosé, one that’s an exceptional berry-driven summery blend of merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, and a steal at $22 a bottle.

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  • Coldstream
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Oakridge Wines is a family-owned winery in Yarra Valley that is gaining renown for its restaurant. The kitchen, which is headed by chef Matt Stone along with pastry chef Jo Barrett, produces dishes highlighting produce from the kitchen garden and local growers. Guests can enjoy a meal matched with a selection of wines exclusive to the Oakridge restaurant (which was our Restaurant of the Year in 2019), or simply take in the view of the stunning vineyard – tastings overlook a pretty gorgeous vista.

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  • Coldstream

Tasting your way around the Yarra Valley is hungry work, and there will come a time in your day when you need to fill your stomach with something more substantial than wine tastings. When that time comes, you should kindly ask your deso to point car in the direction of Many Hands Winery, a small producer that excels at both wine and Italian food. Tastings cost $5 here, redeemable against a bottle (and you are quite likely to want to buy at least one to bring home). You can also drink a bottle or two while you get amongst wood-fired pizzas, garlic prawns, an antipasto platter or other Italian snacks and meals.

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  • Bars
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  • Yering

This winery doesn't take itself too seriously, but it is serious about its product. The entry-level Farmyard series is a very approachable range, featuring playful labels of colourful animals. It is fruit-forward, easy-drinking wine, the kind you can crack at a barbecue and drink way too much of. Tastings here are $5, and the chardonnay and late harvest dessert wine are particular standouts at Yering Farm. But this being a former fruit farm, fruit is still a big part of what Yering Farm does. Yering offers what it calls 'syder', or pink lady apple cider. It's crisp, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, and tastes just like biting into a perfectly ripe pink lady apple. 

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  • Coldstream

The blink-and-you'll-miss-it shed that serves as the cellar door for Maddens Rise does not have a fancy restaurant or assembly line of tastings. Instead, you'll find a simple but beautifully finished shed (it was filled with daffodils when we visited), stunning views and a handwritten A4 sheet of paper detailing the wines on offer and their prices. There is no cost to do a tasting, and you should taste everything here. For an example of the kind of winery this is, look no further than the sparkling rosé. It's a delicious combination of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, fermented in French oak barrels and spending another nine months on lees in the bottle, and made using the Méthode Champenoise. It's no slouch and has a considerable pedigree, but the winemakers here call it simply 'pink fizz' and say it's uncomplicated, delicious, and perfect for any time drinking. We agree.

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  • Bars
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  • Yarra Glen

TarraWarra Estate has become one of the region's must-see destinations. Built on a hill, the winery's stunning contemporary architecture houses a cellar door, art gallery and restaurant that sits among the estate's vineyard. Visit the cellar door where, for $5 a person, guests can sample wines with winemaker Clare Halloran. Try the Single Block and Reserve ranges – the best chardonnay and pinot noir produced on the Estate. Chef Troy Spencer heads up the winery's restaurant, which uses produce from the kitchen garden and local farms. Don't forget to visit the TarraWarra Museum of Art before you leave to see art by contemporary Australian artists. 

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  • Coldstream

The big daddy of bubbles producers in Victoria, Domaine Chandon has been crafting top-shelf sparkling wine since the days it was allowed to be called Champagne. Tastings are $12 for six, and you can choose between still and sparkling. There is also an onsite bar, so once you have tasted your fill, it's worth getting a full glass (our favourite is the sparkling pinot shiraz) and enjoying the panoramic views over the vines. You can also do a self-guided tour of the winemaking facilities, with schmick interactive displays to teach you about everything from picking to fermenting, riddling to disgorging sparkling wines. 

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  • Bars
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  • Coldstream

The former home of Dame Nellie Melba has been turned into an excellent restaurant and cellar door, specialising in Yarra Valley cool-climate wines like chardonnay and pinot noir. Tastings are $5, and the knowledgeable staff will guide you through a personalised tasting geared towards your personal preferences. Love lighter reds like pinot noir but not a chardy fan? Your tasting will have lighter styles and will stay away from heavy chardonnays (though you might be surprised at how zesty and light the Estate Range chardy is). And if you buy a bottle, the tasting fee is waived. 

Yarra Valley wine tours

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There is nothing worse than drawing the short straw as the designated driver on a wine tour. So rather than suffer through a day of sober driving while all your mates become steadily merrier, book yourself in for one of these guided tours of the Yarra Valley’s top wineries.

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