If your weekend didn’t include wine, chocolate and cheese, did you even have a girls’ weekend? I’m going to say no. Thankfully, my recent glamping excursion in the Yarra Valley had all that and more.
Less than two hours from Melbourne’s CBD is the Yarra Valley, one of the world’s top wine growing regions. Drive out Friday evening after work and check in to your pod or belle tent at BIG4 for the cutest Yarra Valley glamping experience.
Get a good nights’ sleep, this is going to be a fun-filled weekend!
A 2-day Yarra Valley itinerary for the best weekend getaway from Melbourne
The Big Bouquet
After looking at my newly decorated first apartment, my mom asked me what I called my decorating style. I looked around at the mishmash of bright colors, fun prints, with some antiques and shabby chic decor, shrugged, and said “stuff I like.”
When I walked into The Big Bouquet, I imagined a similar conversation happening when this gerbera and alpaca farm business launched. Two things that aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence make for a very fun stop in the Yarra Valley.
If the baby alpaca prancing around and adults rolling in the dirt like pigs don’t make you smile, the endless gerbera daisies are sure to do the trick. Did you know that the gerbera is one of the top five favorite flowers in the world? Take home a bouquet or a whole plant and brighten up your day!
Yarra Valley is a foodie lovers’ dream, with farm fresh, organic options everywhere you turn. Our first food stop for the day was Tramonto Kitchen & Bar, and we sat on the patio overlooking Badgers Brook vineyard.
Tramonto curates a menu of locally sourced, free-range, seasonal ingredients, and it was delicious to boot! As a Texan, I’m pretty particular about my steaks… and this is one of the best I’ve had in Australia. Way to set the bar high for the rest of our foodie adventure, Tramonto!
Before leaving the BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park, be sure to ask for a Tramonto flier that offers 10% off lunch.
You may have heard of Moët & Chandon, the famous French winery, but have you heard of Australia’s Domaine Chandon? As the only Australian sparking wine specialists with true French heritage, this is the place to stop for a sip of bubbly.
The sprawling vineyards and green as far as the eye can see earns this vineyard my vote as the most beautiful stop in the Yarra Valley. Enjoy a splash tasting for $12 in the Tasting Room ($6 refundable on purchase) and learn about the rich Chandon heritage. Or upgrade to a Sparkling Selection tasting for $20 ($6 refundable on purchase), which includes four tastings of premium Chandon sparkling wines followed by a full flute of your favorite. The Sparkling Selection tasting is only available by appointment, so book ahead!
Yarra Valley Dairy
It’s possible to drink wine without cheese… but why would you want to separate these two gastronomic delights that are even better together? Stop by for a free tasting, but expect to part with your well-earned dollars, because there’s no way you’ll leave empty-handed after trying the cheese!
Bring a cooler bag, because the Saffy, Ashed Pyramid, White Savourine, and Yering cheeses want to go home with you! Grab a jar of pate and spiced figs to bring your cheese plate to the next level.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
When I moved to Melbourne, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery was one of my first stops. I’ve been to chocolate shops that give samples before, but until this one, I’d never seen giant bowls of chocolate pastilles for free tasting on the honor system. Try a little of the milk, dark and white chocolate to munch as you shop.
With over 250 different kinds of chocolate, there’s a sweet treat for everyone. In my opinion, the Kitchen Creation line is the standout. Have you ever tried fig & fennel, roasted hazelnut & chipotle, toasted coconut & curry leaf or caramelized sesame & celery combined with chocolate? These innovative combinations are nowhere near mainstream, but these days, they’re one of my main streams of chocolate consumption.
Looking for something a little more Australian? Check out the Valley Bush Tucker line for unique Australian native flavors like gum leaf & wild honey, bush tomato & jindilli nuts, and roasted wattleseed & forestberry.
The Sweet Wanderlust pro tip: Scoop from the back of the free tasting bowl… children with grubby little hands can’t reach that far back. You and your immune system are welcome!
On a recent tour to the Yarra Valley, we stopped at Yering Station, where we all agreed that their Creme de Cuvee bubbly won best wine of the day. This strawberry blonde-colored wine tasted of strawberries, pears, almonds, and dare I say a bit of sunshine too? (If you’re looking for a professional sommelier, obviously, I’m your girl.)
Yering Station offers up to 5 tastings of their standard wines free of charge, or you can upgrade to their premium wines for a small fee. Enjoy their delicious wine in a bright tasting room surrounded by stunning art from local artists.
When you see the cow mailbox, you’ll know you’ve found the right spot! Walk past the resident dairy dogs and engage in friendly conversation with the owners while you sample their latest creations. Their Aus-iago (get it?) offers cheese with a little cheesiness… just the way I like it.
Don’t leave without a yogurt for the morning… flavored with honey and a bit of lemon, they claim it’s 2-3 serves. But I never was any good at recommended serving sizes, and I ate the whole thing in bed the next morning.
Badger Creek Blueberry Winery
Did you know Yarra Valley makes some great cider, too? The Badger Creek Blueberry Winery offers an incredible selection of blueberry wines and apple and pear ciders. It will be no shock that the sweet, blueberry style moscato was my favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed their Barrel Aged Blueberry fortified wine, too.
This family-run winery has been growing blueberries for two generations and making wine for over 15 years. When their farm was tragically destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, they shifted solely to blueberry wine production and have since added their popular St Ronan’s Cider, on tap at the cellar door.
The Rainbow Ice Cream Shop
Queen Elizabeth visited Warburton in 1954, and if it’s good enough for the Queen, you better believe it’s worth the trip! Walk the idyllic streets, past antique stores and book shops, and pause along the river to breathe in that country air.
On arriving into The Rainbow Ice Cream Shop, you’ll notice a wall full of thank you notes and drawings from happy customers and kiddos. This is definitely not a chain, and the owners’ warmth and hospitality is unrivaled among ice cream shops in Melbourne.
The toffee and coffee flavors perfectly complemented each other, and of course I upgraded for the hard chocolate shell topped with free pink sprinkles.
If you’re weekend-ing with your favorite pup, be sure to bring them along. The Rainbow Ice Cream Shops offers an ice cream on the house for your furry friend!
Dreaming of catching up with a koala? Want to see how cute a wombat waddle really is? (It’s the cutest.) Are you a fan of high flying birds of prey and precocious parrots? Visit Healesville Sanctuary to get up close and personal with uniquely Australian animals.
Yarra Glen Racecourse Market
The first Sunday of every month from 9am-2pm, the Yarra Glen Racecourse Market draws crowds for an outdoor shopping experience sure to satisfy. Handmade gifts and delicious treats makes this the sweetest stop before heading back to the city. I was tempted at Rosemarie’s Cakes by the fluffiest marshmallows I’ve ever eaten (they’re even gluten-free if that’s something you’re into) and took home a pack of gnocchi with arrabiatta sauce from Alberto’s Delicacies that fed me until Wednesday… score!
Visiting after the first weekend of the month? Check out one of the other markets in the Yarra Valley here.
What are you waiting for? Escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and trade it for the sounds of nature and a really great glass of blueberry wine!