Sipping and Swirling in Australia’s Yarra Valley Wine Region and the Chateau Yering Estate

Ever since the British came to Australia 200 years ago, they found the ideal soil and sun conditions and began to produce wine. Later, after WWII, Italians and Germans immigrated and brought along their precious vine stocks.  From those humble beginnings, the wine regions of Australia have created a wine industry that has grown to rival the old world wines Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, and well as new world wines of Stellenbosch, Napa and Mendoza. One of Australia’s most renown regions is just east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley. Surrounded by the pristine mountains, farmland and the vineyards of the valley is where you’ll find the Chateaux Yering, a superb country house hotel and ideal respite to explore the bounty of the region. 

Although the bustling cosmopolitan city of Melbourne is a short hour ride away, the Yarra Valley might as well be on another planet. The Yarra Valley is far removed from the busy streets and the noisy city and offers natural beauty as far as the eyes can see. Cows and sheep graze the lands, all types of produce grows there and then, of course, there is the grape. Miles after miles of vineyards produce mainly cool climate wines and especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Strewn across the rolling hills are countless vineyards, wineries and their cellar doors open for sampling their exceptional wines.

The Chateau Yering Estate in a 150-year-old estate and the grand dame of boutique lodges in the country.  Around the estate are rolling hills and pastures where black Angus cows graze against the backdrop of the Dandenong Mountain Ranges range. This Victorian-era mansion was built in 1854 and meticulously restored 20 years ago as a respite for Melbournians and other travelers. The country resort offers 32 fine accommodations, two highly acclaimed restaurants, and adjacent is one of the most acclaimed wineries in the region, the Yering Station.

In a country short on centuries of history, the Chateau Yering is a treasured grand dam. The sprawling 1850s Victorian mansion was once the homestead of Victoria’s first vineyard dating back to 1838. In later years, it was the weekend destination for Melbourne socialites for highbrow soirees and galas. In more recent times it changed hands once again, wings added, and it was transformed into one of Australia’s finest Country House hotels.

Around the property are gorgeous gardens filled with exotic trees, flowerbeds bursting with color and wandering paths that demand one get lost for an evening stroll. In fact, the gardens were developed by one of the region’s most acclaimed botanists who founded Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens in 1846, Baron von Mueller. The most noted resident of the garden is a 140-year-old Chilean Wine Palm that soars over the estate’s main building and is listed as a regional treasure by the national trust. 

This is a grand estate with an ambiance, décor and gravitas as if it was from a set on Downton Abbey. That noble air continues inside in the stately drawing rooms, the library, and common areas filled with air loom quality antiques, oil portraits and period furnishings. The Blue Room is the main gathering place with a powder blue color palate, baroque curved ceiling, an ornate marble mantle and open fireplace as well as plenty of plush areas to gather with friends or to read a book. The chateaux is made for wandering through its living history with old photos from over 100 years ago of the life and times of the Melbourne’s’ aristocracy and high society that congregated there for fox hunts, galas, social gatherings.

Vacationing at Chateaux Yering is akin to a stay in the guest quarters of an elegant French manor house with spacious rooms, traditional furnishings, antique replicas, thick brocade drapes, and a   floral print bed crown canopy over an uber-comfy king-sized bed. Bathrooms are exquisite as well with marble surfaces, separate shower and a white clawfoot bathtub. One of the most endearing features of the accommodations is the wide-open verandas and patios offering panoramic views of the grounds of the chateaux, farmlands and the stunning Dandenong Mountain Ranges beyond.

There are several categories of accommodations that range in size, features and amenities. One area was once the horse stables now welcomes romantic couples to its plush accommodations featuring a large sitting area with a day bed, four poster bed, Jacuzzi tubs, and fireplace for those chilly winter nights.

A guesthouse for the upper crust mandates a fine dining experience and the Chateaux Yering does not disappoint. The Country House offers two restaurants in their breakfast and lunch eatery, the Sweetwater Café. and in their fine dining restaurant, Eleonore’s. Eleonore’s is a sophisticated formal dining room with large windows offering sweeping views onto the grounds of the property and Yarra Valley. The venue is replete with the continuation of fine antiques, crystal chandeliers, rich oil portrait paintings, and a fireplace with marble mantel in the center of the room.

Eleonore’s offers a haute gastronomic dining experience with an eclectic menu with entrees such as mushroom scallops with pea and wasabi puree to asparagus and duck yolk with truffle pecorino flan. For mains not to be missed are the beef short rib with miso cauliflower puree or the scorched octopus with scallop, corn and sea succulents.  The presentation is only surpassed with the sensation in the palate.

And needless to say, guests travel to the Yarra Valley which is the epicenter of wine for this region of ‘Australia. The wine pairings do not disappoint with a vast wine list including a number of wines from boutique winemakers in the region. Over 150 years ago, the first wine cellar in the region was developed at Chateau Yering. Today, that vault of ancient arched walls and rough-hewn rock surfaces continues to store the resort’s fine wines and is also a beautiful destination dining venue perfect for small gatherings and romantic dinners by candlelight.  

Wine & Stories Dinner Series w/ Winemaker Rob Dolan

Those storied gatherings of Melbourne aristocrats of centuries past are now seeing a rebirth at Chateau Yering in the form of a series of gastronomic winemaker dinners. Once a month, a fine wine pairing dinner is hosted at Eleonore’s by one of Yarra Valley’s most well regarded winemakers. The evening is a haute epicurean affair beginning with sparkling wines and canapes followed by a long table degustation diner of elegant cuisine. Throughout the evening,  the winemaker shares the story of his wines and takes the guest through a wine pairing degustation experience. It’s a wonderful evening of exceptional food and wine and the coming together of Melbourne’s culinary connoisseurs.  

Another wonderful way to explore the wines of the Yarra Valley happens at the hotel’s neighbor and one of the top wine producers in the country, Yering Station. This is the oldest winery in the Yarra Valley, since 1838, and is also one of the most prestigious and successful wineries in Australia.  The tasting experience is ideal as they’ll take you through a range of award-winning wine. Not to be missed are the reserve wines, ideal for cellaring,  such as the Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Shiraz Viognier and  Cabernet Sauvignon.   After your tasting, you’ll not want to leave before having a gastronomic lunch at their restaurant which happens to be one of the top cellar door restaurants in the valley. This is gourmet dining at its finest with haute Modern Australian cuisine paired with their amazing wines.    

The Yarra Valley in this region is gorgeous with beautiful vistas of the valley and mountain ranges and patchworks of farmlands, vineyards and forests and getting out and about is a must.  There is no better way to take in these gorgeous landscapes that a hot air balloon ride offered by Global Ballooning. This is a fantastical experience as guests arrive before dawn with sleepy eyes awaken to see the balloons beginning to take shape with the blowers and flames.  The massive balloons then take flight and quietly soar over the stunning landscapes below as guests see the bird’s eye view of the sunrise over the mountains. It’s truly a magical morning and experience to cherish. 

Another wonderful way to take in the pastoral beauty of the region is a bike ride and winery tour with Cycling Vine Tours.  The ride is about a three-hour tour that takes guests through the backcountry on pristine paths through paddocks, babbling streams, and parklands.  The flat path could not be more enjoyable as guests break for hot scones and coffee at antique train car café before heading out for more views of kangaroos, all manner of exotic birds, and fresh air exhilaration.  After the bike ride,  the tour takes off with a chauffeured visit at several wineries, artisan cheese shops, and then finishing with a scrumptious lunch overlooking a picturesque vineyard.  

The Yarra Valley is truly a spectacular destination for those who love food, wine and a country lifestyle. An ideal base to take all that this bountiful region offers is a stay at her most enchanting address, the Chateaux Yering