The Yarra Valley surrounds the Yarra River which originates in the Yarra Ranges. It is a popular day trip from Melbourne thanks to its natural beauty and local produce, particularly wine. Its relatively cool climate is just right for growing chardonnay, pinot noir and premium sparkling wine.
The well-known De Bortoli winery was established in 1928 and is still family owned and run. Winemaking is overseen by third-generation winemaker Darren De Bortoli and his brother-in-law Steve Webber. They also grow in the Riverina and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
A popular event at their 240-hectare Yarra Valley vineyard is a Pickers' Lunch.
Guests arrive at around 11am and take a 20-minute tour of the vineyard and pick some grapes. Steve then takes the group to the winery where they help sort grapes on a conveyor belt and explore the winery while learning about the making process.
Everyone is given a tasting glass and taste samples right from the barrels which are made from different types of oak.
Lunch begins at around 12.30pm and may consist of an antipasto platter, oxtail stew with vegetables and bread and fruit and cheese, accompanied by wine from a pervious vintage. Guests may leave at around 3pm, but it seems the warm Italian hospitality often keeps them there until 6pm or so.
Friendly cellar-door staff assist with tastings and purchases of De Bortoli's award-winning wines.
An hour north-east of Melbourne.
De Bortoli Pickers Lunch is $90 per person. The next one will be on Sunday, April 1, 2007. Prices quoted are correct at February 2, 2007
Yarra Valley Winery & Restaurant
Dixons Creek Vic 3775
Tel: (03) 5965 2271
Fax: (03) 5965 2442