Yarra Valley is recognised as one of Victoria’s best wine regions but for those looking for a little more indulgence, the food scene here is just as remarkable. Explore the vineyards and cellar doors of some of the best wineries in the region and then settle down and wallow in a boozy lunch.
We’ve outlined some of the best restaurants the Yarra Valley to graze the afternoon away, and it’s only an hour’s drive out of Melbourne CBD. Try to get through this without your mouth watering or stomach grumbling – we dare you.
The restaurant at Zonzo Estate serves up authentic Italian food with produce freshly picked from the garden. All meals are handmade and prepared as if for their own family.
Gently clink your glasses over meals shared with loved ones without interruption or distraction. The rolling hills are perfect to keep the little ones busy as long as you’re okay with a few grass stains – a small price to pay for an incredible afternoon. Devour wood fired pizzas or other delicacies of the Casalinga cuisine like schiacciata; flat bread with olives, Gorgonzola and herbs or, gnocchi with burnt butter and sage. Wind up the afternoon with an affogato; vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso and Frangelico.
Spend the afternoon basking in the sun-soaked dining room overlooking the vast vineyards. If you’ve hit your quota on wine, lunch at Rae’s is the perfect time to check out the cocktail bar. Cosy up with the Bourbon Blanket; or spice things up with the Spiced Espresso.
Make ordering easy with Rae’s tasting board; a selection of the chef’s favourite gourmet tastes, or arrange your own spread and feast on the likes of Middle Eastern Fritters; beetroot puree, labna and za’atar or mushroom and truffle risotto, dusted with shaved parmesan. If you’re nursing a food coma by the end of the arvo, Balgownie Estate conveniently has boutique luxury accommodation to turn your visit into a staycation.
Planted among the vines, the Yarrawood café offers 360-degree views of the surrounding greenery creating a calm and rejuvenated environment – even after you’ve indulged in a fanciful feast.
Sit outside on the lawn during the summer months where live music is performed every weekend. Lawn rugs and games are also available to keep the little ones out of your hair. Apart from the lengthy wine list, Yarrawood café also offers an extensive cheese platter presenting a variety of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, caramelised fig and quince jam and crackers. The cheeses include Saint Agur Blue (France), Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar (Tasmania) and Meredith Dairy Fetta (Victoria); creamy textured goat’s fetta in garlic infused olive oil and herbs. Yarrawood also offers bruschetta with a twist; poached pears, prosciutto, smoked sheep’s labneh, drizzled with a honey and balsamic vinegar and served on grilled Phillipa’s Turkish bread.
As Victoria’s first vineyard, Yering Station is a historic property, first planted in 1838. Sleek architecture delivers a stylish dining experience overlooking the expansive views of the Yarra Ranges.
Head Chef Maxime Croiset has experience in some of France and London’s finest Michelin Star restaurants offering classic French food with a twist. Forget baguettes and berets; choose from spanner crab, swordfish tartare or braised oxtail for entrée. For main, perhaps glazed duck breast or charcoal lamb strap will tickle your fancy. You can’t leave Chateau without delighting in a milk chocolate dome accompanied by caramel cashew nut, raspberry jelly and almond gel.
Rochford Wines restaurant boasts panoramic views of the valley and has an open fireplace to keep you warm in the winter months. It also has an adjacent alfresco area and private rooms for those special occasions.
The Rochford restaurant menu is seasonal featuring the freshest and best local produce. Choose from crab toast, pumpkin gnocchi or monkfish medallions with baby calamari and Jamon Serrano. Canapés are on offer for your private event or bring your friends and share the bursting charcuterie board. For gluten-free guests, enjoy a pan-seared fillet of barramundi with white beans, chorizo, tomato and calamari. Vegetarian guests can savour the feuille de brick (thin pastry) stuffed with goat’s cheese, baby leeks and hazelnuts. Conclude your afternoon with a Nutella doughnut, drizzled in coffee and topped with hazelnut mousse.
De Bortoli’s restaurant Locale is the heart and soul of the Yarra Valley Estate. The cosy dining room creates an intimate experience for guests to feel right at home as they spend the afternoon grazing on share plates with family and friends.
Homemade pasta and authentic risotto are constant menu residents however changes roll around every season to include the likes of wild mushrooms in autumn, duck and chestnuts in winter, broad beans and nettles in spring and the ripest heirloom tomatoes in summer. Other favourites include ribollita; a Tuscan lentil, chickpea and tomato soup with salsa verde and crostini or tallegio and ricotta agnolotti with braised leek and aged balsamic vinegar.