One of the outcomes from the blog that I have been enjoying the most, particularly in the last year, are the friends that I have made; I’ve found in the last year that the existing friendships I had really strengthened through 2014. No longer were we just crossing paths at launches, instead we made dates, caught up for meals, went to each other’s homes for meals and frankly, it’s been glorious fun.
Wince, Adrian, his partner Chris and I started by bonding one launch somewhere over tv shows that we all liked (cough cough reality tv cough cough) and decided to meet up at one of our houses to have marathon sessions, with awesome food in the mix as well of course.
That was almost some two years ago now I think (how time flies!), with more meet ups and tv viewing sessions together. Each time we’ve always had a blast (and departed from the meet up feeling very rotund!)
At the end of last year, we decided to take to the road, and do a little day trip out to the Yarra Valley, which I dragged Brad along to as well.
I forfeited my ability to drink copious amounts (which doesn’t really exist anyway, thanks Asian genes) and we simply had the most gorgeous day out.
I think it had been so long since I visited a winery, I forgot firstly, just how beautiful the country is simply an hour out of town, and secondly, just how much fun winery visiting was.
Our first stop was naturally Domaine Chandon, one of the heavyweights in the area for the all important bubbly tasting flight, which is well worth it for around $20. We had no problem sharing this at all, especially with a huge plate of charcuterie (which I forgot to take a picture of) and the absolutely stunning views, with the sun shining, around us. Ahhh.
We then made our way to Medhurst Wines for lunch, on the recommendation of one of dad’s friends, which ended up being absolutely perfect for us.
It’s a bit of the main road, down a dirt road and cresting up to a small hill, with a modest sized cellar door and cafe greeting us as we pull up. With sunning chairs out on the grass, overlooking some of the vines, and cheery umbrellas popped up, it’s quite easy to see there’s a pretty relaxed vibe going on here.
When we step into the cellar door and cafe, all eyes go straight to the stunning vanilla slices, impossibly tall, which are only made of the weekends, and before we can even look at a menu for savouries, Adrian’s ordered one for the table, which we promptly devour. Oh so much lightness and fluffiness....!
The style of the cafe is exactly what we needed in the Yarra Valley, a tiny menu, with a couple of paddles to share, and a few other small nibbles and panini, it was casual, unpretentious and very, very affordable.
The winemaker’s paddle, with Istra ham, salami and smoked beef, seasonal vegetables and cornichons, is a very solid offering, I particularly like the spicy salami. However it’s the fisherman’s paddles that surprises and intrigues us the most. With Buxton smoked trout pate, Huon smoked salmon, white Italian anchovies, herb mayonnaise and crusty bread, it’s definitely a nice alternative to the usual charcuterie platter. The Buxton smoked trout pate in particular is intensely delicious, fresh and sweet, the smokiness in it was quite subtle, allowing the trout flavour to come through beautifully.
We also grabbed an extra serve of the trout pate and chorizo; I initially thought we surely wouldn’t have enough food for the 5 of us, but after polishing the vanilla slice off, all the savouries and a serve of the flourless chocolate brownie; heated up and served with cream, we were very, very, very comfortable!
The wines at Medhurst were great too, I was particularly fond of their dessert wine, which is called ‘Frances’, which is not at all like the usual sticky dessert wines that most people might be accustomed with. Instead, Frances is light, with lovely little honey notes, the perfect summery dessert wine.
Gosh we're a fabulous group!
We next pop into TarraWarra Estate for a quick peek (and since we’re cheapskates skip out on the tasting because we didn’t feel like paying a fee, although by this point we had had plenty of wine already…). TarraWarra is simply beautiful as well, and feels a little bit like a modern art gallery when you walk in. We did have a look at the menu which did look very good, so may plan in the near future to come back for lunch…
We also stopped into Dominique Portet for their delicious Rose, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery, which I found to be a bit overhyped really. Maybe as well after all the lovely and laid back wineries we went to, the intensity level of kids over-dosing on free chocolate samples was a little bit too much to take, not to mention the ice-cream that I sampled was much, much, much too sweet…even for me!
5 hours later, some classic old school tunes, and driving by a paddock just as a bull mounts a cow (seriously, I’ve never seen a bull jump that high ever…actually I’ve never seen them jump ever…; our timing was impeccable), we were well fed, had had plenty of lovely wine and laughs for miles.
Since then, Brad and I have made a surprising amount of visits back out to the Yarra Valley, as it’s really so close and just so easy to do…definitely foresee far more winery visits this year; hopefully with all my friends in tow!
727 Maroondah Highway
24 Medhurst Road
Gruyere, Yarra Valley 3770
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road
Yarra Glen 3775
890 Maroondah Highway
35 Old Healesville Road
Yarra Glen 3775