Introducing Yarra Valley
The first Yarra Valley estate was planted in 1838, and Yarra Valley wine culture grew through to the late 19th century. Unfortunately, the Yarra Valley wine program stalled in the 1920's, and it wasn’t until the late 1960's and early 1970's that the Yarra Valley wine industry was reestablished.
Yarra Valley wine is now recognised as some of the finest in Australia. The region is built around premium wine producers working with cool climate vineyards, with a focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and to a lesser yet important degree, Shiraz and Sparkling wines.
Where is Yarra Valley?
The Yarra Valley is the region surrounding the Yarra River in Victoria. Yarra Valley's best wineries are easily accessed by driving from Melbourne. Traffic permitting, Yarra Valley wine region is less than one hour’s drive from Melbourne CBD.
Yarra Valley Climate
Yarra Valley wine region is known as a true cool-climate wine region. Yarra Valley wine is grown between 50 and 400 metres above sea level, with rainfall being winter and spring dominant, with a moderate summer that tends to be humid, yet without much rain. The region is considered one of the coolest in Australia, and ripening seasons are typically, comparatively long.
Unique Characteristics of Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley weather amplifies the cool climate aspects of the region, producing wines of distinct elegance, restraint and finesse. Typical Yarra Valley red wines are light to medium bodied, gently herbal and fine in tannins profile. Yarra Valley white wines are generally quite restrained, fine in texture and high in natural, refreshing acidity.
Wines to try from Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley wine is produced from a broad spectrum of grapes, though Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon have proved to be the halo varieties for the region. Yarra Valley grape varieties and winemaking influence provides a broad palette of aromas and flavours, but there is a distinct regional restraint seen in most wines and wine styles.
Yarra Valley wine made from Chardonnay is an evolving spectrum of texture, aromas and flavours. Once more, bombastic Chardonnay styles were the Yarra Valley wine norm, but the past decade has seen a dedicated change to earlier picking and less rich oak influence that has rendered the Chardonnay as a finer, finessed style. Regional characters include citrus, green apple and peach, with richer styles showing melon and fig generosity. Many examples from the Yarra Valley vanguard show distinct ‘struck match’ and flint-like mineral character. Yarra Valley Chardonnay has an international reputation as being part of the new generation of Australian fine wine.
Yarra Valley's best wineries have cemented their repute with world class Pinot Noir. The Yarra Valley wine region is now internationally recognised as one of the leading Pinot Noir producing areas. Yarra Valley Pinot Noir shows superior delicacy and finesse, imbued with ripe cherry aromas and flavours, hints of herbal complexity, pure and driven. Whole bunch fermentation is now more widely used in Yarra Valley wine, and lends additional character and textural impact to fine Pinot Noir from the region.
Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has almost taken a back seat to Pinot Noir, but best Yarra Valley estate producers still create phenomenal wines of elegance and complexity. Cabernet Sauvignon from the Yarra Valley is typically medium bodied, showing blue fruits, hints of eucalyptus and herbs, driven by fine yet firm tannin structure. These are often wines that show tight in youth and need a decade or more to show their best.
Must See Yarra Valley Wineries
Yarra Valley wine region was reestablished after a hiatus in 1963 with the establishment of Wantirna Estate. During the late 1960's and early 1970's, Wantirna was joined by a raft of high quality wine producers that included Yarra Yering, Mount Mary, Seville Estate, Warramate, Yarra Burn and Fergusson, while Yeringberg and St Huberts, defunct since the early 20th century, were also revitalised. Other best Yarra Valley wineries include:
- Yarra View
- Dorrien Estate
Key Yarra Valley Wine Event
The Shedfest Wine Festival is held annualy on the second weekend of October, showcasing the unique charm of family owned wineries and vineyards in the Yarra Valley. It has been running for over 15 years and the success of the event has led to expansion across the entire Yarra Valley. Wineries open their sheds to house two days of fabulous food, fine wine, live music and entertainment. Very rarely do visitors of a festival get to be captivated by stunning views while chatting to the owners and winemakers of the best Yarra Valley wines.
The future of Yarra Valley Wine
Yarra Valley wine is assured future relevance with its exacting expressions of cool climate wine styles. The region is bolstered by international attention for high quality, fine wines. Yarra Valley's best wineries have assured ongoing attention with requisite attention in fine dining and in wine collector circles.
Yarra Valley is at the forefront of modern Australian Chardonnay, a talking point that has seen global attention being focused back on Australian fine wine culture. Yarra Valley staples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir have also created international buzz, further enhancing the reputation and future of the region.
- Cool Climate
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon