Reviewing the cellar door experience across some of the world's greatest and most beautiful wine regions
If you have had a cellar door experience that you would love to share with us and your fellow winery loving community, be it at one of the 350+ cellar doors we have reviewed to date or any other cellar doors that you have visited around the world, please feel free to add your own comments and ratings in the comments boxes on each of our pages.
We would truly love to hear what you have to say!
In focus this month - Yarra Valley, Victoria - Part 2
Our second trip to the region in as many weeks and it was great to revisit some old favourites as well as visit some now new favourites. We also checked out a few new dining options in the region, including a fabulous lunch at Oakridge and an amazing dinner at Graceburn Dining Room.
"Congratulations to Oakridge who received an increase in both rating and score (from "1 door" to "2 doors" and a score of 18/20, De Bortoli who received a "2 door" award, Sutherland Estate who received a "1 door" award and Giant Steps whose "pop-up" cellar door in Healesville received our "hidden gen" award.
Refer to our Yarra Valley page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited.
In focus December 2019 - Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Yarra Valley is Victoria's oldest wine region with the first vines being planted in 1838. Just over an hour northeast of the Melbourne CBD, the Yarra Valley is a very beautiful area with it's flowing hills and valleys and is a popular weekend day drip from Melbourne.
The Yarra Valley is recognised as one of Australia's chief cool climate regions and is famous for it's Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling wines. However, with over eighty cellar doors in the region, there are a significant number of styles and varietals to taste.
Many of the region's wineries have cellar doors offering wine sales and picnic facilities, with some of them also featuring restaurants, cafes and boutique accommodation. On our most recent visit we had a beautiful lunch at Tokar Estate, which also has some great views over the vines and valley, as well as a fantastic dinner at Innocent Bystander, which is conveniently located in the town of Healesville.
The region is also home to a number of great restaurants, cheese factories, fruit farms. breweries and distilleries and once you are done eating and drinking, the Yarra Valley has a number of other attractions and activities including bush walking trails, markets, galleries and the famous Healesville Sanctuary.
We always enjoy or visits to this region and look forward to heading back again next month to visit a number of other cellar doors.
Congratulations to Innocent Bystander and Many Hands who each received our "1 Door" award, joining the regions eleven previous award recipients.
Refer to our Yarra Valley page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited.
In focus July 2019 - Yamanashi, Japan
Whilst Japan may not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about grape wine, there are a surprising number of wines made in Japan, with the the most commonly used varietal, Koshu, believed to have been introduced to Japan through the Silk Road around 1000 years ago!
Winemaking became more commercial in the early 1900's, with the most well know wine producing regions being Yamanashi, Nagano, Hokkaido and Yamagata.
Yamanashi is Japan’s largest and most famous wine-producing region, producing around 40% of the nation’s wine, and was the first Japanese region to be awarded a Geographical Identification by the Japanese government.
The Japanese wine industry actually originated in Katsunuma, a town in the city of Kōshū in Yamanashi. The grape variety Koshu is the most widely planted variety in Yamanashi, making up 95% of Koshu plantings in Japan. Other popular grape varietals include Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat.
Situated within 2 hours of Tokyo by train, a lot of the wineries are within walking distance of the Katsunuma-budokyo train station. There are also a number of taxi's at the station as well as buses that stop off at many of the wineries. Please note that Japan has very strict rules around drinking and driving (or riding), therefore these are not options if you want to try the wines of this region. We caught a taxi to the furthest winery we were visiting and walked back to the station which made for a nice day out in the area (including a fabulous lunch at a local noodle restaurant).
We also note that there did not appear to be much accommodation in the area, so we actually based ourselves near Mt-Fuji to visit the region, but a train out from Tokyo is also an easy option.
While there are over 80 wineries in the prefecture, English is not as widely spoken as in other parts of Japan, therefore it is important to enquire as to the availability of an English speaking staff member and arrange your visit in advance if you are not fluent in Japanese.
We didn't quite know what to expect when we visited this region, but we really enjoyed the winery experience and the wines we tasted. If you are in the area and looking for a great day out, we would highly recommend a visit!
Refer to our Yamanashi page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited.
In focus May 2019 - Coal River Valley, Tasmania
The Coal River Valley region is just 20 minutes from Hobart and has a good cross section of cellar doors ranging from a number of small family run establishments to one of the larger wine company's in Tasmania, Frogmore Creek.
Southern Tasmania's climate produces wines more like those of Europe than mainland Australia, with some amazing quality of both reds and whites on offer. Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon blanc are the main varieties here, however there is a broad range of other varietals on offer including some great Pinot Gris, Syrah and Merlot.
The region is also home to Richmond, a gorgeous historic town that is very popular on weekends and has some pretty shops, restaurants and a very beautiful bridge that was built by convicts (it is photographed in every tourist brochure of Tasmania, so you won't miss it!)
Located at the entrance to the Derwent River and set amongst the foothills of Mt Wellington, Hobart is a great city with a nice blend of historical buildings and modern conveniences. There are plenty of accommodation options here, a number of fantastic restaurants (including some beautiful winery dining options such as at Frogmore Creek and Riversdale Estate) and plenty to see and do. Take a walk along the iconic waterfront (be sure to pop by the many fishmongers and fish and chip shops and keep an eye out for the local sea lion!), explore Salamanca (including the fantastic Saturday outdoor market) or take a trip across to MONA for an interesting art experience, as well as a fantastic cellar door and restaurant experience (details of which can be found on our Derwent Valley Page). There are also a number of new waterfront bars and dining options that have popped up over the last couple of years, including the fantastic Lounge by Frogmore Creek.
If you are really motivated, a hike up to Mount Wellington is well worth it, but be sure to pack numerous layers of clothing if you are visiting in Winter!
This is a beautiful region that has something for everyone and we always look forward to visiting time and time again.
Congratulations to Craigow and Every Man and His Dog Vineyard who each received a "Hidden Gem" award, joining the regions previous award recipients.
Refer to our Coal River Valley page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited on this and previous trips to the region.
In focus April 2019 - Alpine Valleys, Victoria
The Alpine Valleys wine region is situated in the north-east of Victoria and winds through the valleys at the base of Victoria's ski region. The area is known for it's stunning landscapes (including it's amazing Autumn leaves), premium cool climate wines and more recently, it's fantastic food culture.
Due to the many micro-climates in the area, the region is home to over 30 grape varieties, ranging from traditional varieties such as Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to less common varietals, such as Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Vermentino, Savagnin, Teroldego and Marzemino.
The cellar doors in the area tend to be smaller, more family run offerings, providing for a great personal experience as well as offering a number of different dining options.
The town of Bright itself is a quaint little town that seems to have had somewhat of a food, bar and lounge revival with a number of great newer options in the area. We popped into a number of the local offerings including Tomahawks, Dr Mauve Bar and Lounge and Reed & Co. Distillery and had a great time at each.
The area is also extremely popular with cyclists and whilst surrounded by mountains, the bike tracks between a number of cellar doors in the area are actually quite flat, making it a great region to explore on bike.
The Alpine Valleys is a great place to spend a few days and also makes for a fantastic stop on your way to or from the ski fields. We definitely look forward to stopping in again and exploring what else the region has on offer!
Congratulations to Feathertop Winery who received a "2 Door" award, Ringer Reef who received a "1 Door" award and Billy Button who received a "Hidden Gem" award.
Refer to our Alpine Valleys page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited.
In focus December 2018 - New Zealand - Central Otago
Central Otago is an informal name for the inland part of the Otago region in the South Island of New Zealand. The area commonly known as Central Otago includes both the Central Otago District and the Queenstown Lakes District to its west.
The Central Otago District, which is the world's southern-most commercial wine growing region, is made up of a few different sub areas and is home to around 80 wineries.
The region is most famous for its production of Burgundy-style grapes, producing some world renowned Pinot-Noir. Outside of Pinot Noir the region produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. Sparkling wine is made in the traditional style from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
There are a vast range of cellar door experiences in the area, but most still tend to be smaller, family run operations offering a more personalised tasting experience. One thing that stands out in this region are the views, with many of the cellar doors having amazing views of the magnificent backdrops of mountains, vines and lakes. A number of the cellar doors also offer dining options ranging from highly regarded restaurants to more casual food platters.
Outside of wine, there really is something for everyone in this region. Amazing ski fields situated within a short drive, beautiful and varied dining options, sensational vistas, a variety of hiking/walking tracks and for those a little more adventurous there are a multitude of adrenalin activities on offer.
When in the region we tend to stay in Queenstown which makes for a good base. While many of the wineries are a 30-45 min drive from here, they tend to be in clusters, so you can take a few day trips and cover off on a few at a time, leaving the ones closer to Queenstown for a shorter trip.
We really do enjoy coming to this area and if you haven't been, it is one of those places that really should be added to you must-do list!
Congratulations to Misha's Vineyard, Mount Edward and Wooing Tree Vineyard who each received a "Hidden Gem" award and to Amisfield and Wet Jacket who's ratings were upgraded.
Refer to our Central Otago page for detailed reviews and ratings of individual cellar doors visited.