Pick up your rental car after a leisurely breakfast in one of Melbourne's famous cafes and head for the hills – Coldstream Hills, to be precise.
Australia's most revered wine critic James Halliday established the winery in 1985 and has since built its reputation for producing world-class wines, particularly the Yarra Valley's hero varieties chardonnay and pinot noir.
Check out the view from the light-filled cellar door overlooking the closely spaced vines down into the valley. Book a weekend guided walking tour of the vines and winery, which includes the rare opportunity to sample wines direct from the barrel.
Right next door is award-winning Yarra Yering, named Best Small Cellar Door by Gourmet Traveller Wine, under the expert eye of 2017 Halliday Winemaker of the Year Sarah Crowe. The 50-year-old estate is one of the Yarra Valley's oldest producers, but Crowe adds a progressive touch.
Don't miss the chance to try the latest release of her Light Dry Red, an unusual blend of shiraz and pinot noir that’s the perfect combination of spice and perfumed red fruits. Lovers of exceptional cabernet sauvignon are spoilt with Yarra Yering’s complex and exquisite Bordeaux-style blend, known simply as Dry Red Wine No. 1 – it's a consistent award winner. Treasure hunters will find plenty to thrill in the rotating selection of museum stock available for tasting.
Stop for a leisurely lunch and a wine tasting at Seville Estate, the 2019 Halliday Winery of the Year, where views of the upper Yarra and surrounding mountains are unrivalled. The Gourmet Traveller Wine 2019 Star Cellar Door-winning tasting room and restaurant are oh-so Australian – all corrugated iron and red brick walls surrounded by eucalypts – but inside the vibe is Scandi-chic, with a minimalist dining room and wide windows.
Sample form the ever-changing menu of local and estate-grown produce; try the six- or eight-course ‘feed me’ option for the full experience.
Head off to learn about the art of distilling at Four Pillars Distillery. Book ahead for a Saturday masterclass – you'll sip G&Ts in the private workshop overlooking the distillery while a spirit guide takes you through the process of making gin, the barrel-ageing program and Australian gin lore before you meet the magnificent copper pot stills.
Try a tasting paddle or a cocktail – the expert and enthusiastic staff in the sleek showroom can point you towards exclusive and harder-to-find bottles, such as the distillery’s famous shiraz gin, a combination of rare dry gin and locally grown shiraz grapes.
Hop in the car and head to nearby boutique winery Dominique Portet for a unique combination of French winemaking and Yarra Valley terroir. Run by 10th-generation winemaker Ben Portet, the cellar door makes up in charm what it lacks in size. Take a glass to the courtyard seating overlooking rolling vineyards flanked by steep mountain ranges or indulge in a little friendly competition on the petanque court.
Satisfied with your tastings, check into your luxury Yering Gorge Cottages accommodation set on a 120-acre private nature reserve where the bush intersects with the Yarra River. Relax on your balcony with a pre-dinner wine and watch the kangaroos graze nearby.
Zip into the Healesville Hotel, the perfect mix of old-world charm and modern amenity. Fill up on sizzling local, grass-fed beef and plump free-range chicken slow-cooked in the garden fire pit over red gum coals. Enjoy with vegetables from nearby Timbarra farm. Enjoy the hotel’s garden dining area in warm weather; in winter open fireplaces keep the front bar warm and cosy. And as you might expect from a pub in the centre of a world-class wine region, the drinks list is impressive.