My three favorite food/beverage items, hands down, are wine, cheese, and chocolate. So the Yarra Valley wine region is pretty much my utopia. I have wanted to visit for awhile, but it's about an hour outside of Melbourne so it really requires a car.
Some friends and I took the plunge and rented a car on Sunday for a self-guided tour. Luckily, Katie was willing to test out her left side driving skills and got us there and back without (major) incident. It was a little stressful trying to get out of the city, but once we got to the highway it was pretty much a straight shot. Katie said the hardest part was working the blinkers, as she kept accidentally turning on the windshield wipers. At one point she reverted to the right side of the road out of habit, which I think would be extremely easy to do, but alas we are all still alive. I'm glad she drove and not me!
Posing with the rental car.
We drove directly to the Visitor Centre, which was really helpful. We decided to hit a few wineries, then a cheese shop and end with chocolate. First we bought some supplies for a picnic lunch, which we ate at the last winery.
We bought a loaf of delicious bread and did some wine tasting at a shop in town called Innocent Bystander. They had a really good Moscato that wasn't too sweet, which is pretty rare!
Here's the view from the first winery, TarraWarra Estate. Their wine was decent, but the views were more impressive.
Michelle and me.
Next stop was Yarra Valley Dairy, which was the highlight of the trip. They had the most extensive and delicious cheese selection ever, and the lady cut us extremely generous samples! We wanted to buy all of it, but settled on a goat cheese.
So. Much. Cheese.
I took this photo out of the car window between stops.
The second winery we visited was called Sticks. It was the perfect setting for our picnic lunch.
We sampled all the wine and bought a bottle of the Sauvignon Blac. Side note: it was extremely helpful to have Sylvie, from Belgium, along on this trip to pronounce all the French wine names correctly :).
The patio at Sticks.
I may have gone overboard on the pictures!
Setting up the food
Our cheese selection. The one covered with ash is the one from Yarra Valley Dairy.
One last photo of the vineyard.
Our final stop was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, where we sampled chocolate and of course got ice cream.
Chocolate Aussie animals! If they weren't $15 I would have bought a few...
The samples...I went back for seconds. And thirds. The place was swarming with kids (who I had to fight off to get to the samples). I guess it's a school holiday right now, but really, when is it not?? I swear these children have a 2-week holiday at least once a month.
We sat outside on the grass and ate ice cream.
There was still some time left with the rental car, so we decided to check out the Dandenong Ranges, which is a "mountain range" about 30 minutes from the Yarra Valley. I put that in quotes because they're more like hills than mountains. The terrain actually reminded me a lot of the southern Missouri Ozarks, where we lived before our move to Melbourne.
It was a pretty drive to the top; the road was lined with vegetation that almost looked like a rainforest. Definitely different from anything I've ever seen.
We walked around the gardens before heading back to the city.
It finally looks like spring!
And here's a somewhat blurry photo of a parrot to end this post!
If you enjoy wine, cheese, and chocolate (so basically, if you have a pulse) be sure to make the trip to the Yarra Valley!