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Tucked away in one of the most beautiful, misty and serene parts of one of Victoria’s most famous wine regions, the Yarra Valley, is Steel’s Gate.

A boutique vineyard housing decades-old chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir grapevines in the still, idyllic setting of Steel’s creek.

Steel’s Gate is surrounded almost entirely by National Park acreage,  which further adds to the feeling of complete serenity.

For this month’s Winery spotlight, we caught up with owners and operators, Matthew and Brad, to discuss the history of Steel’s Gate, what the winery has to offer its visitors and to chat about all things wine!

Tell us a little about the winery’s history?

Steels Gate is a boutique vineyard and winery located in Steels Creek, Victoria, Australia. Almost completely surrounded by National Park, this 82-acre (33 hectares) property grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes across 6 acres (2.5 hectares) of vines mostly planted in the late 1970’s. Steels Gate was established in 2009.

Situated in a picturesque hillside setting at Dixons Creek, Shantell Vineyard and Restaurant is located just 60km from the heart of Melbourne.
Shantell Vineyard has 13 acres (5 hectares) of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir vines mostly planted in the late 1970’s.

“Wine is about family, and for Matthew, Brad and Sebastian, there is nothing better than growing and making premium wine together as a family.”

Matthew and Brad have a long-standing passion for the wine industry and opened their first retail outlet in 2004. With a burning desire to be closer to the winemaking process, they purchased their first vineyard in 2009. Focusing on the viticulture for a number of years, they decided to build a winery in 2016. They are very excited to showcase their 2017 vintage, as this is the first year they have made the wine as a family. Now in 2018, Matthew & Brad are proud to announce the opening of their first cellar door and restaurant – Shantell. “We love being out in the vineyard and making wine with our son. There is nothing better than growing and making premium wine together as a family” 

What wine varieties do you specialise in?

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Blanc de Blanc, Pinot/Chardonnay Sparkling, Pinot Noir Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon.

Can you tell us a little bit about your winemakers/winemaking process?

Having managed the viticulture on their Home Block vineyard for the past 9 years, Matthew and Brad make wine that expresses the natural characteristics of the fruit from each site. Premium wine starts with a well-managed vineyard.

“Everything we do is by hand, from cane pruning to pressing wine and bottling”.  Do you have an on-site restaurant, or do you offer any food tastings?

Yes, we have an on-site restaurant that overlooks the Shantell Vineyard. We don’t offer food tastings but do have a one and two-course lunch menu available for groups.

Do you cater for special events?

Yes. Byron and Jane manage the food side of Shantell. With a combined 50+ years’ experience in the hospitality industry, their food philosophy centres around using fresh and local produce and keeping the menu beautiful and simple.

“There is nothing more rewarding than friends coming together to share wine, food and laughter” – that’s the driving force for this family of foodies that look after all the food at Shantell. 

Having a full-catered kitchen means we can cater for almost any occasion. Ranging from bespoke cooking classes in our kitchen (overlooking the vines) to private dining with wine tasting, through to small weddings. Not to mention….

Imagine dining outside right amongst the vines. Even on a chilly Yarra Valley afternoon, so long as the sun is shining, it is an absolute delight (and don’t worry, we have a location in-doors with a stunning view of the Valley if Mother Nature is against us when you visit!).

After a private personal tasting experience hosted by one of the owners Brad Atkins or Matthew Davis of Steels Gate Wine, you will move to a private table amongst their 40-year-old grape vines.

Rated by many who visit the Steels Gate @ Shantell cellar door and restaurant as “the best views in the Yarra Valley”, you will be treated to a 3-course meal with beautifully matched wines. Food is prepared on site by their expert Chef Byron More using local ingredients and whenever possible grown on site. Colours are always amazing, whether it is the autumn leaves on the vines, the late sun reflecting off the mountains and clouds, or the rainbows across the valley sky.

The subtle touches are not overlooked, with complementary throws provided in case the sun does not provide sufficient warmth during your unique dining experience.

What makes your winery stand-out against the other vineyards in the area?

1. Amazing Wine (Quality and Range)

  1. 2. Views of the vineyard and surrounds from both cellar door and restaurant
  2. 3. Incredibly friendly & knowledgeable staff
  3. 4. Exceptional Food
  4.  We don’t overbook to ensure an outstanding experience.
Do you offer on-site accommodation?

 Not at this stage. We are hoping to have 2/3 eco cottages in the next 2-3 years

Are there any attractions located near you that you would recommend to visitors?

Chocolateries is just 2 min down the road.

Lunch in the Steele’s Gate vines Where can you find Steel’s Gate?

Our Cellar Door is Open 10:30 am to 5:30 pm (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday)

Address: 1974 Melba Highway, Dixons Creek, Victoria

Contact Steel’s Gate Winery at  brad.atkins@steelsgate.com.au or on (PH)03 5965 2155

The post Winery Spotlight: Steel’s Gate Wines appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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In our last ‘Meet the Driver’ post we caught up with long-term tourism expert and part-time wine tour guide, John O’Donnell, and this month, we’ll be introducing our other resident John, John Murphy.

Following in his family’s footsteps, John, AKA Spud, grew up surrounded by people who were passionate about the wine industry, with his father working for the company that was indirectly responsible for the development of the Stelvin screw cap and bag that’s used in box packaging, as well as the Vinofill bottling system. Given his father’s line of work, it’s not surprising that John developed his own love for Australia’s rich viticultural history.

Over the course of his career, John has performed professionally in theatre restaurants and operated various tourism businesses, while also holding office in Australian tourism associations.

Back in 2008, John started getting involved with the Australian Wine Tour Company, heading out on tours of the Yarra Valley with our wine-loving customers. However, it wasn’t until after the Black Saturday fires of 2009 that John’s friendly face started popping up on our tour buses on a more regular basis.

Want to know more about our beloved driver, John? Check out the rest of his interview below!

What Three Words Would You Use to Describe Yourself?

 

“I would have to say passionate, curious and humorous.”

If You Had to Pick One Thing, What Would You Say is the Best Part of Your Job?

 

“There’s a lot that I love about my job, but spending the day getting to know my customers is definitely the best part.”

Do You Have a Favourite Destination in the Yarra Valley?

“I do. I’d have to say Yering Farm.”

 What’s Your Favourite Type of Wine?

 

“Pinot Noir.”

What do You Find the Most Interesting About the Yarra Valley and its Vineyards?

 

“It always surprises me how friendly and welcoming all the wineries are to visitors. You always feel like you’re being treated like family, which is great!”

 What Would Your Perfect Day Look Like?

 

“My perfect day would include driving someplace new with my wife, meeting the locals, discovering the area’s history and enjoying the picturesque scenery.”

If you want to learn more about John’s love of the Pinot Noir and the Yarra Valley, or would like to join him for a day of food, wine and exploration, ask us about our Yarra Valley Day Tours today!

The post Meet the Driver: John Murphy appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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We might be in denial about just how much cash we splash over the Easter long weekend, but the fact remains – Australians are big Easter spenders!

But what is it that we spend all of our money on? Each year, Aussies part with around $3 billion, but only about $200 million actually goes on Easter eggs and gifts. So where is the rest of the money going? A large chunk of it is going towards weekend getaways, holidays and even just single-day experiences.

In Fact, in 2016, HotelsCombined and Finder.com.au undertook some research to see where Australians are travelling over the long weekend, and Melbourne came in as one of the most popular destinations for domestic and international travellers. Combine this with the fact the Yarra Valley is one of Victoria’s most popular and picturesque places to visit – and one of the country’s leading viticultural regions – and it’s easy to see why it’s the ideal spot to spend the Easter break.

You might recall that in 2017 Australian Wine Tour Company was voted the 5th most popular Australian tour by TripAdvisor, thanks to the careful thought we’ve put into how we structure our winery day tours and our premium private tours. For an idea of how you could spend the Easter weekend in the Yarra Valley with us, read on to learn more about some of our favourite, and most popular tour destinations.

The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

 

Image credit: www.visityarravalley.com.au

While this isn’t a stop on our standard day tours, our customisable tour itineraries can include a stop at the world-famous Chocolaterie. Overlooking vineyards, a lake, and rolling green hills, handcrafted Easter treats, decadent desserts and rich, creamy ice cream is aplenty at this indulgent venue.

Easily one of the most delicious destinations this Easter, the Chocolaterie is the place to be for Easter egg hunts, chocolate making classes or for making the most of a four-day break from your diet.

Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa

 

What could be better than a mouth-watering a la carte lunch and a glass of Balgownie Estate’s finest wine? Two glasses of wine, maybe? Well, on one of our day tours, you’ll get your lunch and a glass of house wine, and will be welcome to purchase as many extra drinks as you like – just make sure you save room for tastings at other vineyards along the way.

 

Domaine Chandon

 

Image credit: www.visityarravalley.com.au

Our standard winery day tour includes a guided tour at Domaine Chandon, complemented by a glass of their premium sparkling wine. This world-class vineyard closes the gap between Australia and France, being hailed the only sparkling specialist in the country that rivals the likes of the wines produced on hallowed French ground. The venue’s story starts way back in the ‘50s, and in the decades that have followed, Chandon has been transformed into the centre of Australia’s sparkling wine industry.

 

 

Healesville Sanctuary

 

Image credit: www.heraldsun.com.au

Much like the Chocolaterie, one of the most popular stops on our private premium and customisable day and weekend tours is Healesville Sanctuary.

As a bushland haven for Australian wildlife, visitors to Healesville Sanctuary can get up-close to dingoes, owls, wallabies, and of course, Australia’s favourite native species – the koala, to name a few.

After a big weekend of drinking, a casual stroll around the nature park is the perfect way to wind down.

Sound like the perfect weekend? Talk to us about our Yarra Valley wine tours and customisable private premium tours, today!

The post Escape the City Over the Easter Long Weekend appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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At the heart of any great experience is the people, and here at Australian Wine Tour Company, we take great pride in our dedicated team that helps to make each and every tour not just successful, but also enjoyable and educational.

Over the coming months, we’ll be introducing some of these great guys and girls to you, so you can get to know the friendly faces that will be heading out on the road with you, as you enjoy the best the Yarra Valley has to offer.

First up, John O’Donnell.

John has spent 40 years working within the hospitality and tourism industry, which includes three years as a part-time driver for Australian Wine Tour Company. He’s not only a highly valued team member, and an all-round great guy; he also brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge that’s invaluable.

Here, we chat to John about his career so far, and his love of the Yarra Valley.

Can You Tell us About Your Career so Far?

“I have enjoyed 40 years of working in the hospitality and tourism industry. In this time, I’ve worked in a range of positions from casual footman at Government House and assistant manager at the Botanical Hotel, to catering to film crews, working as a wine waiter at Stephanie’s Restaurant and even as a flight attendant with Qantas International, which is where I met my wife. I have also spent the past 20 years as a teacher in tourism, in particular, wine tourism. This has allowed me to train tour guides and teach sustainability at Australia’s leading specialist hospitality institute, William Angliss. This is my third year as a part time driver/guide with Australian Wine Tours, but I have also guided groups of students and passengers to amazing walking trails in national parks in Australia and New Zealand over the past ten years.”

What Three Words Would You Use to Describe Yourself? 

 

“I would have to say professional, fit, and above all, passionate.”

 

What’s the Best Part of Your Job? 

 

“I always get excited about meeting a wonderful range of people and introducing them to the beautiful Yarra Valley and its great offerings of fine wine and food, history and scenery. It never gets old.”

Do You Have a Favourite Destination in the Yarra Valley? 

 

“I’d have to say Soumah Wines for its quality wine, exceptional food and amazing views of the Yarra Ranges.”

What’s Your Favourite Type of Wine? 

 

“I like a very dry sparkling, pinot noir or dry riesling.”  

 

What’s the Most Interesting Fact You Know About the Yarra Valley and its Vineyards? 

 

In the 1880’s the Yarra Valley was the most prestigious wine growing area in Australia.”

 

What Would Your Perfect Day Look Like? 

 

“ A day out with Australian Wine Tour Company’s passengers, who are joyously happy, smiling, and journeying to discover new wine, friends, history and life skills.”

If you want to learn more about John’s love of the Yarra Valley, or would like to join him for a day of food, wine and exploration, ask us about our Yarra Valley Day Tours today!

The post Meet the Driver: John O’Donnell appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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In the name of St. Valentine, February 14 is a day to shower your loved one with love and affection. This much talked about patron saint might be shrouded in mystery, but in all of the stories, there’s one constant – love.

In the name of St. Valentine, February 14 is a day to shower your loved one with love and affection. This much talked about patron saint might be shrouded in mystery, but in all of the stories, there’s one constant – love.

Some legends say he was a priest in ancient Rome that performed marriages in secret after Emperor Claudius II forbid soldiers to marry, while others say he was a martyr who was killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. It’s also been rumoured that while he was imprisoned awaiting his death sentence, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter where he allegedly wrote a love letter signed “From your Valentine”.

While stories of his origins vary, he is consistently referenced as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure. So, it’s only fitting that we honour his memory with celebrations of love!

Do you have plans for this Valentine’s Day?

There’s no denying that gifting chocolates and flowers is a nice gesture, but a romantic day in the Yarra Valley or a weekend escape to some of the most picturesque vineyards in the region say a lot more than store-bought chocolates.

Whether you want to escape on Valentine’s Day or purchase a gift voucher for a Yarra Valley wine tour that can be used at a later, more suitable date – a surprise getaway is just what St. Valentine would approve of.

Premium Private Tours

As the epitome of luxury, our premium private tours will give you a chance to enjoy all the Yarra Valley has to offer, without having to share your transport or tour guide with anyone else.

Perfect for a couple wanting to escape the rat race for the day, while tasting some of the best wine and champagne the Yarra Valley has to offer, you can share a romantic lunch and soak up the beauty of the natural landscape.

However, one of the best parts of our premium private tours is that you can customise your itinerary, and even include some of the region’s other attractions, like Healesville Sanctuary.

 

Overnight Tours of the Yarra Valley

A two-day winery tour that comes complete with luxury accommodation at Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa, and the option to indulge in a soothing spa treatment for two, is an ideal way to celebrate the most romantic day of the year.

During your stay at the spa, you’ll have access to some of the resort’s premium features, including the indoor swimming pool, wet steam room, dry sauna, walking trails and tennis court.

You will also enjoy a two-day guided winery tour with lunch on day one and a buffet breakfast on day two included.

 

Buy a Gift Voucher for Later

With an open date and 12-month validity, a gift voucher from Australian Wine Tour Company will give that special someone something to look forward to. A day of indulgence is just a mouse click or a phone call away.

So, this Valentine’s Day, ditch the chocolates and say ‘I love you’ with a romantic, rewarding experience instead.

Talk to Australian Wine Tour Company about our tour and gift voucher options or book online today!

The post Romantic Winery Escapes appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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We were lucky enough to have a travel agent, Robert Ratcliffe, join us on one of our Yarra Valley wine tours recently. He was also kind enough to put together a lovely review for us, which we share below.

The Itinerary

 

Punt Road Winery

Learn the art of wine appreciation and meet the largest distributor of apples.

Balgownie Estate

Introduce yourself to a sparkling Shiraz combined with a sumptuous lunch, leaving some time for more tasting experiences.

Yering Farm Estate

Experience this rustic farm along with some excellent Pink Lady Cider.

Domaine Chandon

Learn about the process of creating quality sparkling wine, and finish the day

with a glass of your choice.

A Scenic Drive From the CBD to the Picturesque Yarra Valley

 

It’s Friday, and today I join the Australian Wine Tour Company for a wine tasting experience in the Yarra Valley. Tony, our driver and guide, meets up with us at approximately 9:20 am just near the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

The bus can take up to 24 passengers; however, today we have an intimate group of eight people. The tour caters to all age groups, and today’s group includes people from Adelaide and Sydney, as well as a few locals from Melbourne. Later, we meet up with some visitors from India who join us on the wine tour after they have experienced an early morning Yarra Valley balloon flight.

As we make the journey from the city to our destination, Tony provides a précis of what the day holds for us. Surprisingly, we take a turn off onto Springvale Road towards Warrandyte. We are soon travelling through the Yarra Hills, experiencing some picturesque bushland. This route gives travellers a more relaxed introduction to the Yarra Valley than alternative routes that take you through Ringwood and Lilydale.

Along the way, Tony points out some majestic houses as we travel through Wonga Park. The first one we experience is owned by Aaron Baddeley one of the top golfer’s in the world, the winner on the US and Australian PGA tours, quite a palatial home on the hill. Not far from here is John Farnham’s beautiful homestead that boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Punt Road Winery

Our first winery stop was Punt Road. This boutique, 150-acre winery, has a rich history dating as far back as the 1920’s, when the area was initially used for farming, and a few vines were planted mainly for personal use. With the depression and World War II the wine industry collapsed and the land was returned to farming. Toward the 1960’s the winery started to make a comeback.

On arrival, we’re offered a Pinot Gris for tasting, and Tony explains the importance of wine tasting and how you should take note of its colour, fragrance and of course, its taste. After this, we move onto the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a fortified Semillon. After the tasting, we are offered a special tour 10% discount, which I take advantage of to purchase the Pinot Gris 2015 and the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to these wines, Punt Road also has an extensive orchard of pink lady apples, as they’re now one of the biggest distributors of apples to Australia’s major supermarkets.

 

Balgownie Estate

Balgownie Estate was first established in Bendigo in 1969. Balgownie Estate’s Yarra Valley vineyards weren’t purchased until 1999. By 2002, they had started planting Chardonnay and Pinot Gris vines, which are well-suited to the Yarra Valley’s cool-climate. Today, the winery has a cellar door, restaurant, conference centre and 69 one bedroom spa suites, in addition to a lavish day spa.

On arrival, John, our guide and host at Balgownie Estate, meets us. John provides an entertaining wine tasting session whilst we enjoy a bit of interstate rivalry over whether South Australia or Victoria was the first produce the sparkling red. It was agreed to disagree on the discussion, which leads into our first tasting of the Balgownie Estate Sparkling Shiraz, an exceptional start to our experience. After this, we were then invited to experience two whites and two red wines before we are lead to lunch.

Tony provides us with a menu prior to our arrival at Balgownie Estate, which covers all types of dietary requirements and saves time choosing at the venue. The restaurant hosts the perfect atmosphere for all to enjoy each other’s company along with good food and wine.

Yering Farm Estate

This rustic, boutique winery is the smallest winery in the Yarra Valley, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm and good old-fashioned service.

Yering Farm only produces 7,000 cases of wine per year, so they don’t distribute to major retail outlets. However, they do distribute to select restaurants. Run Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay, Duck Down Under Rose Pinot Noir and their The Foxtrot Cabernet Shiraz are some the selections of wines that are presented to us for tasting.

There is also a crisp and refreshing apple cider, which is great for those lazy afternoons when one just wants to relax. The cider has a slight pink tinge because it’s made from crisp Pink Lady apples.

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon was established by French Champagne house Moet & Chandon back in 1986. After a brief talk from Tony our guide, we learn more about the process of making sparkling wine. The tour is very interesting and comes complete with great user-friendly graphic displays. Visitors to Chandon Winery can do a self-guided tour, which is open daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

We make our way upstairs from the cellars to the tasting room where we meet Shane, who presents four types of sparkling produced at Chandon. We are given a choice of enjoying a full glass of sparkling wine at this magnificent winery, with options such as the Chandon Brut Rose, Vintage Brut 2012, Cuvee Riche and a sparkling Shiraz. After choosing the sparkling Shiraz I take a seat outside to relax and take in the beautiful countryside whilst thinking about how lucky we are to have something so beautiful so close to Melbourne.

If you are really into your wines, this is a fantastic tour to do. The Australian Wine Tour Co guides have so much information on the wine process and so many interesting facts. Best of all, you get loads of opportunities to taste the wines without the stress of having to drive back to Melbourne.

After finishing our bubbles, its time to leave this beautiful and relaxing place. We return via the scenic Yarra Hills to the city. Time passes quickly as I doze off and soon realise we are back in the city just after 4.30pm.

If you want to experience this tour for yourself, contact the team at Australian Wine Tour Co today!

The post Australian Wine Tour Co. – As Reviewed by a Customer appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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Christmas is almost upon us, which means it’s time to hit the shops and start scouring the shelves in search of the perfect present for your loved ones.

Or is it?

Research has shown that more and more Australians are choosing to put money towards ‘experiences’ over materialistic presents each year, as experiences have been proven to evoke greater levels of happiness than buying a new pair of shoes.

According to Brad Elphinstone, a lecturer of psychology with a speciality in materialism at Swinburne University of Technology, returning to the festive roots of Christmas lies in the ability to spread cheer and joy through experiences, rather than the more traditional concept of gifts.

So, what does this mean for your annual Christmas shopping bonanza?

Well, instead of hitting the shops, jump online and start searching for travel vouchers, local or regional tours, and all manner of activities your loved ones can take joy from.

Christmas Shopping with Australian Wine Tour Co

As Australia’s leading operator of wine tours in the Yarra Valley, we combine the beauty of this picturesque region with mouth-watering cuisine and delicious wine.

Over Christmas, the weather in Victoria is at its best, with the rain clearing, the sun coming out and daylight hours extending well into the evening. This makes heading out on a wine tour with your friends, family, or even your colleagues the perfect Christmas present.

Not only will you have the opportunity to experience something new, as you stare in awe at the rolling hills and vineyard covered acreage, you’ll also be able to spend quality time with your loved ones in a relaxing yet fun environment.

Take your palate on a ride with new foods and plentiful wine tastings, learn a bit of local history, and find out how your favourite drop made it from the vine to your glass.

There are plenty of tours to choose from, including our always popular Day Tours and our Overnight Packages, where you’ll be taken on a guided tour with full commentary and plenty of stops along the way.

We also offer gift vouchers if you would like to purchase one of our Yarra Valley wine tour experiences, so your loved one can enjoy a day in the valley at a later date.

Wine Tours for Family or Work Christmas Parties

 

If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to celebrate the end of the work year, or just want to hold a little Christmas gathering for your closest friends and family but don’t want to have to deal with the clean-up, why not book one of our Corporate and Social Days’ tours?

Available for groups of eight or more people, we’ll take you to some of the region’s most popular vineyards in a first-class air-conditioned coach, where you can enjoy a day of wine tasting, fine dining, and fun! We can even help you customise your itinerary to ensure you get the most out of your group tour. Simply let us know your requirements and we’ll prepare your customised tour and tailored quote.

There really is nothing better than trying something new at Christmas time. Contact us today to learn more about our small group tours, gift vouchers and social days out.

The post Give the Gift of Wine – or a Wine Tour – This Christmas appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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The spring racing carnival is all about the glitz, the fashion and the alcohol. The horse race is important too, but if we’re being completely honest, most people head to the races to get dressed up and sip – or in some people’s cases indulge – on Champagne and wine.

But it begs the question… when did alcohol become such a vital aspect of spring racing season?

Last year on cup day alone, race-goers consumed a total of 46,570 bottles of Champagne. By time you add the copious amounts of wine and beer that was also consumed to this figure, the amount of alcohol drank on race day is astronomical.

Here, we look at the history of the race that stops the nation, and how it became the biggest week of the year for wine and Champagne sales, eclipsing both New Year’s Eve and Grand Final day.

The History of Cup Day

The first ever Melbourne Cup was held in 1861, with the grand prizes being a gold watch and cash purse. It wasn’t until 1865 that the first official cup was awarded as part of the main prize, which the recipient later sold because they allegedly found it to be unattractive.

Even though the Melbourne Cup is now a permanent event in our social calendars on the first Tuesday in November, the race that stops the nation was held on varying dates throughout spring, until 1875. The cup day trophy has also gone through a number of transformations, with the current design only becoming a permanent fixture in 1919. Before then, the cup took on many appearances, and some years, no cup was awarded at all.

In the early days of the Melbourne Cup, the event’s central focus was the race itself, however, as time has progressed, alcohol and fashion have become the central focus. Today, race day has topped the tables as the biggest sporting event of the year for alcohol consumption, with the AFL’s grand final not even coming close.

To give you an idea of what Cup Day in the 21st century looks like:

  1. Over the course of spring racing season, Australians will bet as much as $1.5 billion on horse racing.
  2. Up to $52 million is spent on fashion each year.
  3. Australians drink the equivalent of 25 million swimming pools worth of alcohol between breakfast and dinner on cup day.
  4. 90 per cent of Australians from across the country tune in to watch the races on Channel 7 each year.
  5. People from NSW bet, on average, 22% more money than punters from other states.
  6. Each year, the Melbourne Cup attracts approximately 26,000 international and interstate visitors, giving the Victorian economy a boost of roughly $155 million.

  

10 Little Known Facts About Champagne

  1. Sparkling wine is only Champagne if it comes from Champagne in France.
  2. The grapes used for Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Munier.
  3. Most Champagne is made from multiple grape varieties, and if it’s labelled as non-vintage, it’s made from more than one vintage.
  4. Non-vintage Champagne is left to mature in the bottle for at least 15 months, while vintage wines take at least three years.
  5. Small growers who sell their grapes to large houses own a lot of Champagne vineyards; however, some growers do grow and make their own champagne.
  6. The classic ‘coupe’ Champagne flute was allegedly styled after Marie Antoinette’s breast, all the way back in 1774.
  7. Champagne is best served between 8 – 10 °C
  8. Popping the cork on your Champagne bottle will make it lose its bubbles, which are what brings the drink to life and delivers the finest aromas.
  9. Always rinse Champagne glasses with hot water before use, as fibres from tea towels and residue from cleaning liquids can ruin your Champagne’s quality.
  10. Champagne bottles are best when stored in the dark.

Want to learn more about Champagne, and some of Victoria’s finest wine varieties? Join us for a winery tour of the Yarra Valley. We’ll take you to some of the region’s best vineyards, including Domain Chandon – the home of Champagne!

Book online today, or contact us for more information.

The post Champagne, Fashion, and Racing: Melbourne Cup in a Nutshell appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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Located a mere 50 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley is a picturesque region characterised by sprawling vineyards, rolling hills and some of the best wine and food Australia has to offer.

The Yarra Valley is also a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, which is hardly surprising given its rich viticultural history and the essential role the region has played in terms of food production, tourism and wine exports since the early 1800s.

Did you know that the Yarra River, which stretches through the Yarra Valley is known as ‘Birrarung’ (place of mists and shadows) to the Indigenous Wurundjeri people?

The Yarra Valley’s Rich History

The first vines were planted in the Yarra Valley in 1838, but the art of viticulture in the region didn’t really start to leave a mark until the 1860s and 1870s. However, due to increasing demand for fortified wine, the Yarra Valley was forced to cease its wine production in 1921 and in 1937 the Great Depression and adverse natural conditions saw vineyards being converted into pasture.

Did you know that the Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first wine growing district, with a history stretching back 180-years?

Thankfully, this dry spell wasn’t permanent as the 1960s saw viticulture spark up again in the region with the early 90s marking the true high point of Victoria’s 19th-century wine production.

Flash forward to the present, and the Yarra Valley’s long timeline of events has hit an all time high with the region now being home to more than eighty vineyards that each contribute to the region’s international reputation for first-class wine.

Cool-Climate Wines at Their Best

Renowned for producing world-class cool-climate wines, the Yarra Valley is known for its production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which makes up roughly 60 per cent of the region’s total production. However, you’ll never be hard-pressed to find a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz.

The Yarra Valley’s Chardonnay is widely regarded as its premium grape variety and across the region, a new, lighter in weight and less oaky style has emerged. When it comes to the Sauvignon Blancs produced in the area, they tend to have a roundness and fruit generosity that sets them apart from the flavours often associated with New Zealand’s South Island. The flavours produced in Victoria include fresh tropical fruit, guava and cape gooseberry.

On a trip to Victoria’s Yarra Valley, you’ll also find Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier (but only in small amounts), as well as Rosé and Sparkling Wine.

Did you know that spring in the Yarra Valley sees more rain than winter does?

Must-See Yarra Valley Attractions

The vineyards in the Yarra Valley aren’t the only attractions worth noting, as this picturesque corner of Victoria’s south-east is also home to Healesville Sanctuary, where you can get up-close to Australian native wildlife, as well as the Yarra Valley Dairy and Yarra Valley Choclaterie and Ice Creamery. You’ll also find that the area has plenty of bed and breakfasts to stay in, day spas that give a new meaning to the words relaxation and pampering, and of course, fantastic day tours that show you the best of the Yarra Valley in a short amount of time.

Did you know that the Yarra Valley is flanked by the Great Dividing Range to the north and east, the Dandenong Ranges to the south and the Plenty Ranges to the west? It’s literally sitting in the middle of some of Victoria’s most popular areas.

If you’re ready to explore the Yarra Valley, but would like an expert guide to take you on the journey of a lifetime, book a full or two-day coach tour Australian Wine Tour Co today!

The post Spotlight On The Yarra Valley appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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Yering Farm Wines is a small single-vineyard winery that’s nestled in the heart of the Yarra Valley. With its rich viticultural history, warm, family-owned approach and scenic surrounds, it’s not surprising this picturesque vineyard has touched the hearts and taste buds of both locals and tourists alike.

To learn more about the winery and its mouth-watering varieties, we sat down with Megan from Yering Farm Wines to chat about the company’s history, winemaking approach and their role in shaping the marriages of couples from across the country.

Yering Farm Wines’ Rich History

Yering Farm Wines’ 30-acre vineyard can be found along the main tourist road in the Yarra Valley, on the site that used to be home to Yeringa Vineyards in the 1890s. It wasn’t until 1989 that Alan Johns, the chief winemaker at Yering, planted fresh vines and sparked a new era of winemaking.

In the vineyard’s early days, the grapes that were grown at Yering were sold to larger wineries in the area, with only a small quantity reserved for Johns own winemaking efforts.

Flash forward to the present and Yering Farm Wines is a well-established, family-owned and -operated winery that harvests and produces distinct wine varieties that have helped the vineyard become the popular destination it is today.

 

Yering’s Wine Specialties

Renowned for their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, Yering Farm Wines produces an eclectic mix of distinct wines that also includes Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Shiraz varieties.

Their portfolio is made up of three series:

 

“Our entry level range is called the Farmyard Series, which is made up of fresh, young, easy drinking and affordable wines. These have gorgeous animal labels that were designed by Rosanna Vecchio, the artist behind Stephanie Alexander’s cookbooks. These labels are very popular with our customers and the wines are delicious,” says Megan.

The second series in the Yering Farm Wines’ collection is their premium range, and according to Megan, it’s made up of full-bodied, complex wines that are full of flavour.

“The premium level range is called the Estate Series. These wines are complex, full-bodied styles that are created with high-quality fruit and a mixture of new and old French oak barrels. These are perfect when paired with food, or when aged for up to 15 years.”

“The final range is the Winemaker’s Selection. These Reserve wines are only produced when Mother Nature has been extremely kind to us. These wines are all about the best of the best. Best quality, hand selected parcels of fruit, brand new French oak barrel fermentation, and limited production. Our current vintages in this range date back to 2006 with a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a 2011 Chardonnay,” she says.

But, the vineyard’s efforts don’t stop with their wine; they’re also the proud producers of some of Victoria best-tasting cider.

“Our Pink Lady Apple Syder is one-of-a-kind. We use home-grown pink lady apples and ferment the juice in old Pinot Noir wine barrels, producing a fantastic pink blush! We’ve been making this for about four years now, and have basically been selling it only through cellar door until the end of last year when we began introducing it into restaurants. It just walks out the door; our customers can’t get enough of the taste or the apple blossom label! It is light and delicate on the palate, with the naturally sweet and crisp characteristics of pink lady apples shining through. This cider tastes as if you’re biting right into a fresh pink lady apple.”

From Vine to Bottle

As the chief winemaker at Yering Farm Wines, Alan Johns takes a slightly less commercialised approach to his winemaking techniques. All of the vineyard’s wines are produced on-site with estate-grown fruit and are carefully crafted and nurtured by Alan himself.

“Alan’s hands on approach to winemaking and viticulture ensure that all of Yering Farm’s wines are of the highest quality, while still retaining their individuality. Yering uses French Oak Barrels due to their tighter grain. This allows for more subtle oak influences on our handcrafted wines. Yering Farm uses a range of different sized French Oak Barrels. The larger the oak barrel, the more subtle the oak character achieved as there is a smaller proportion of oak contact with a larger volume of Yering Farm wine,” says Megan.
Over the last ten years, the vineyard has developed their own unique approach to winemaking, which encompasses a number of traditional winemaking practices, while also adopting new, innovative technology and methods.

“Traditional winemaking techniques are utilised, including the use of open top fermenters, hand plunging and maturation in French oak barriques, which assists in the creation of Yering Farms’ superb wines. We also integrate the latest winemaking philosophies, innovations and wine styles,” she says.

Yering Farm Wines has also been the recipient of a number of accolades during its long history and has steadily been increasing the amount of first-class wine that is produced each year, with roughly 6,000 cases of wine made on-site each year.

Heart-Warming Weddings at Yering Farm Wines

The estate also caters for a limited number of weddings.

“A select number of weddings are held here each year, each with a unique and rustic style, which is created specifically for each couple. The ceremony is conducted on the sweeping lawn with a backdrop of the estate vineyard and mountain ranges in the distance. When it’s time to eat and drink, head into Yering Farm’s iconic cellar door, a converted hay barn full of rustic charm and historic details. Suitable for both cocktail and seated functions, your guests will enjoy our estate made wines and cider, found only on premise in Melbourne,” Megan explains.

“Your special event can be as formal or informal as you like. Hang bunting, fairy lights, candles and vases of stunning flowers, play lawn games, sit down, stand up, move inside and out; create a feel and look that’s that right for you.”

Yering Farm Wines has a lot to offer local, interstate and international visitors, and also has farmhouse accommodation available for anyone who wants to spend a night in the picturesque Yarra Valley.

To experience the Yering Farm Wines’ difference, contact Australian Wine Tour Co today about our bus tours of the Yarra Valley.

The post Winery Profile: Yering Farm Wines appeared first on Australian Wine Tour Co..

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