Best boutique wineries in the Yarra Valley
Avoid the crowds this summer. These are the Yarra Valley's best boutique wineries.
Victoria has long established itself as a premium destination for wine and the Yarra Valley, our oldest wine region, is leading the charge. The original vinester was crowned the state’s first official wine region in 1838, after brothers William, Donald and James Ryrie settled there in 1837, establishing the area’s first commercial vineyard on the property where Chateau Yering now stands.
Fast forward some 180 years and this popular vine-blanketed hinterland has also become one of the state’s most visited, with more than 5.5 million day-trippers exploring its rolling, vine-speckled slopes every year.
But while A-list labels like De Bortoli, Domaine Chandon, Rochford and TarraWarra have helped the region barrel its way into the vine halls of fame, there’s more to the Yarra Valley than heaving wineries and crowded cellar doors. If you want to sip your way around the region while avoiding the tour-bus hot spots, these boutique cellar doors are the pick of the bunch.
Slides: The view from Boat O'Craigo, Boat O'Craigo cellar door, Billanook Estate vineyard, lunch at Seville Estate, Heley & Joey, Soumah Wines cellar door, pizzas at Trattoria d'Soumah, En Vie Blanc de Noir at Helen's Hill.
13 of the Yarra Valley’s best boutique cellar doors
One of the Yarra Valley’s best-kept cellar door secrets is Helen’s Hill. But, with a sun-drenched wine deck, sumptuous pizza selection and a range of crisp, estate-grown grape juice, this laid-back Lilydale winery is set to become one of the region’s go-to summer sip spots.
Eat and drink: Grab a charcuterie board ($35) and bottle of En Vie Blanc de Noir ($25) or Lana’s Rose ($28) and kick back on the balcony while you soak up the serenity.
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm daily. 16 Ingram Road, Lilydale. helenshill.com.au
You can’t go pasta this Italian-inspired cellar door. Billanook Estate was established by the D’Aloisio family in 1994 and, over the last 25 years, has positioned itself as a premium destination for Italian grape varieties, cuisine and, most importantly, hospitality.
Eat and drink: Pour yourself a glass of sangiovese ($10), barbera ($10) or nebbiolo ($11) and wash it down with a plate of polpette (Italian meatballs, $10) or freshly made gnocchi gorgonzola ($18) at Al Dente Cooking School and Kitchen.
Visit: Open 10am to 3pm Fridays and 10am to 5pm weekends. 280 Edward Road, Chirnside Park. billanookestate.com.au
Soumah – a portmanteau for South of Maroondah – is all about provenance, and its wines are a celebration of both its Yarra Valley terroir and the French and northern Italian varietals on which it staked its reputation. If you really want to soak up the atmosphere, base yourself at the charming Ville d’Soumah, which is walking distance to family-owned Pimpernel Vineyards, whose classic, French-style viognier is a real stunner.
Eat and drink: Traditional northern Italian fare is the name of the game at Trattoria d’Soumah. The garlic and chilli crab pasta ($38) is a must-try, and washes down a treat with the award-winning 2019 pinot grigio ($28 a bottle).
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm daily. 18 Hexham Road, Gruyere. soumah.com.au
Helen & Joey Estate
The views from this winery alone make it worth the visit. Lush vineyards that stretch into rugged mountainous horizons set a stunning scene at this relaxed cellar door, which is nestled into the Gruyere foothills. This is the ultimate wine lovers’ destination, with Meg Brodtmann MW (Master of Wine) the estate’s resident winemaker.
Eat and drink: Pull up a deck chair and sip on a glass of Wayward Child Pinot Gris ($35 a bottle) or Inara Pinot Noir ($25 a bottle) while savouring a platter of four cheeses ($45) from local producer Stone & Crow. The homemade Helen and Joey quince paste is divine.
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm, daily. 12-14 Spring Lane, Gruyere. helenandjoeyestate.com.au
Rose all day at Helen's Hill.
If you’re a lover of all things artisan and interesting, Maddens Rise is sure to tickle your tastebuds. The 2017 Arcobaleno ($30) – which is Italian for rainbow – is a stunner. This delicious field blend features a selection of hand-picked, small-batch fermented grapes (vermentino, chenin blanc, garganega and fiano), made with minimum intervention. It’s like a party in your mouth.
Eat and drink: Wine tasting only. The reserve chardonnay ($40) and and 2013 shiraz ($30) are a real treat.
Visit: Open Thursday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. Corner Maroondah Highway and Maddens Lane, Coldstream. maddensrise.com
Many Hands Winery
Pull up a chair and settle in for a woodfired feast overlooking the vines at Many Hands Winery. Here, the restaurant is all about Sicilian-style home cooking (hello, white anchovies, $12, and Italian sausage pizza, $24), and the wines – which lean towards more classic Yarra Valley varietals of cabernet, pinot noir and chardonnay – are a match made in heaven.
Eat and drink: The octopus ($15), which is marinated in tarragon and rosemary then woodfired to perfection, is hard to beat and pairs deliciously with a glass of the 2013 unwooded chardonnay ($12). And you can never go wrong with the woodfired pizzas (from $21).
Visit: Open Friday to Monday 10am to 5pm. 2 Maxwells Road, Coldstream. manyhandswinery.com.au
This convivial, family-run winery offers the best of both worlds – generous hospitality and generous wines. On the mouth-watering menu is a selection of platters featuring local and imported ingredients, traversing everything from fromage and charcuterie to Spanish conservas.
Eat and drink: Seafood lovers, get ready to salivate. The Pescados Platter ($45 for two people), comes loaded with smoked salmon terrine, your choice of Spanish conservas, antipasto, salad and fresh focaccia. And then there’s the wine. You can’t go wrong with a glass of the 2017 Marsanne ($14).
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm, Friday to Sunday. 860 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. warramundaestate.com.au
When It comes to intimate winery experiences, Yileena Park is about as up-close-and-personal as it gets. Established in 1998, this family-owned-and-run cellar door is all about passion – which is evident in everything from the wines and wine tastings to the oak-smoked meats, cheeses and even salts.
Eat and drink: The house-smoked blue cheese, olives and nuts are the ideal accompaniment to the delectable chardonnay ($45) and NV aged topaque ($40). Well, all the wines, really.
Visit: Open 11am to 5pm daily. 271 Steels Creek Road, Yarra Glen. yileenaprk.wpengine.com
Lap up the European-inspired luxury at Sir Paz.
Drink in delightful views of Healesville's rolling hills with a date on the deck at Boat O'Craigo. This up-and-coming family-run winery makes a range of premium wines using estate-grown grapes from two sites. The cooler Healesville vineyard, which is nestled into the foothills of the Black Spur Ranges, grows white grape varieties, while the warmer Kangaroo Ground outcrop is dedicated to delicious reds. To match their highly rated wines, there is also an on-site kitchen rolling out thin-based, seasonally inspired pizzas, charcuterie boards and salads. Plus, RACV members save 15 per cent on take away wine purchases when they show their card at the cellar door.
Eat and drink: Swing by on Fridays to take advantage of their $49 food and wine deal for two, which includes an antipasto paddle, a pizza to share, and a glass of wine each.
Visit: Open Friday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm. 458 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville. boatocraigo.com.au
Steels Gate Wines
Brad Atkins and Matthew Davis began producing wines from their Dixons Creek block in 2010 and, over the last 10 years, have established themselves as serious wine contenders. Theirs is a handmade approach to winemaking, which lends the wines a sense of refinement, fun and finesse.
Eat and drink: From shared platters and picnics to slow-cooked pulled duck ($32) and fish tacos made with Lakes Entrance trevally ($30) – there’s something to suit everyone. Weather permitting, grab a picnic package ($40pp) – which includes a tasting, glass of wine and gourmet platter – and sit out on the lush lawn.
Visit: Open Thursday to Monday from 10.30am to 5.30pm. 1974 Melba Highway, Dixons Creek. steelsgate.com.au
Sir Paz Estate
If you’re in the mood for a little sweetness, head to Seville’s Sir Paz Estate. A former chestnut grove, this picture-perfect winery – the highest-altitude in the Yarra Valley – is housed in an impressive hilltop chateau that boasts sweeping 360-degree views over the Yarra Valley. It’s an undiscovered gem that is well worth the visit.
Eat and drink: Come for the wine, stay for the Mediterranean cheese boards paired with late-harvest sauvignon blanc ($35 a bottle).
Visit: Open 11am to 5pm Sundays. 54 Parker Road, Wandin East. sirpaz.com
If it’s good enough for James Halliday, it’s good enough for us. Seville Estate was just awarded the Wine Companion Winery of the Year, which is some seriously impressive wine cred for a small, family-run outfit.
Eat and drink: The Seville Estate restaurant is a juxtaposition of classic and contemporary, refined and rustic. Its menu focuses on using local produce and is constantly evolving based on what’s available and in season. The feed-me feast is $65 for four courses ($55 for matched wines). The 2014 Estate Riesling is one of our faves.
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm daily. 65 Linwood Road, Seville. sevilleestate.com.au
Elmswood Estate Winery
Escape the hustle and bustle of Maroondah Highway and head to the other side of the Yarra Valley. Often referred to as the Upper Yarra, thanks to its higher altitude and cooler climates, it is here you'll find the underrated Elmswood Estate. This small, family-run vineyard offers a selection of finely crafted, award-winning grape juice, matched with panoramic views to rolling ranges and beyond. Even better, RACV members save 15 per cent on any dozen wines purchased when they show their card at the cellar door.
Eat and drink: Swing by the Elmswood cellar door for a guided tasting, then grab an antipasto platter and a glass of your favourite plonk and wine away the afternoon.
Visit: Open 10am to 5pm daily. 75 Monbulk-Seville Road, Seville. elmswoodestate.com.au