When you think of wine regions around Melbourne, the famed Yarra Valley, an area peppered with vineyards and postcard views, is usually the destination du jour for locals and tourists alike. But, if you prefer venturing off the beaten path, the following trails and regions are well worth exploring.
Gippsland Wine Region
The trail: Gippsland is full of unspoiled landscapes and can be easily accessed for a day trip, but when a region includes natural wonders such as Ninety Mile Beach and Wilsons Promontory and more than 45 cool-climate cellar doors, why would you only go for one afternoon? West Gippsland, an hour from Melbourne, includes the tourist hub Latrobe Valley. If you’re happy to venture two hours further, you’ll hit East Gippsland, where you’ll be met with a warmer, Mediterranean-like climate and cellars producing cabernet sauvignon, fruity pinot noir, chardonnay, shiraz and riesling. Spots to consider include Piedmont Vineyard, Waratah Hills Vineyard and Wild Dog Winery and Restaurant.
Where to stay: Escape to the mellow Bella Vita B&B Retreat in bush surroundings in Omeo or the old-word-styled Walhalla Log Cabins. For those in the mood for even more adventure, try a lakeside accommodation with a boat moored on your own private jetty or perhaps deluxe safari-style tents at the popular Buchan Caves Reserve.
Pyrenees Wine Region
The trail: No, this is not the famous wine area between France and Spain, although you could be forgiven for thinking so. Located in the Grampians, French brandy producer Remy Martin established his eponymous chateau near Avoca in the 1960s, with winemakers following not long after. It may be a relatively youthful wine region, but it’s by no means immature. With more than 40 cellar doors producing premium red wines, including sparkling, the Pyrenees region is a treasure trove just waiting to be traversed. Try visiting Mount Avoca and Dalwhinnie Wines.
Where to stay: The Grampians is scattered with cottages, B&Bs, resorts and guesthouses, but my personal recommendation is DULC, found at Halls Gap, within the Grampians National Park. DULC boasts eco-designer contemporary cabins with mountain views. You can choose from one- or two-bedroom cabins or go for the treehouse — complete with an actual attic in the trees. Secluded, luxurious and with everything you need at your fingertips, DULC will not disappoint.
Geelong Wine Region
The trail: In the 1800s, Geelong was the largest grape-growing region in Victoria. Over the past few decades, it’s made a comeback as winemakers have rediscovered rich soils and a climate that’s somewhat reminiscent of France’s Bordeaux. The sub-regions in the area consist of volcanic plains and the surf coast. Only an hour from Melbourne’s CBD, it’s an area begging to be explored and savored. Want the full experience? Take the scenic route getting there along the Great Ocean Road and then hit up Scotchmans Hill, Clyde Park Vineyard and Dinny Goonan Wines.
Where to stay: If you’re travelling along the Great Ocean Road, stay in the secluded Glenaire Cottages, which feature rustic guest rooms and 100 acres of bird-filled forest. For something truly unique, try a stay at Johanna River Farm & Cottages, an easygoing property that offers stunning views of the ocean, valley or working farm from every cottage.
Photos Courtesy of Wild Dog Winery, Mount Avoca and DULC