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Soaking up the wines, kangaroos and rolling hills of the Yarra Valley

And raising money along the way

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It’s 10am and we’re standing in the Foodworks carpark in Coldstream, the gateway to the Yarra Valley.

It’s not how I like to begin my Sundays. But this Sunday is different. This Sunday, my sister Julie and I have organised a Winery tour through the Yarra Valley to raise money for the kids at Amari Community Development School. You know the school, the one we travelled to two years ago to do some volunteer work, the one where the kids stole our hearts, the one in Uganda.

We’ve coerced 24 people to come along with us, to give us money that we can send on to help the school grow, to help the kids and the local community.

Twenty-four people who have never been to Uganda, who had never heard of Buliisa until we told them about it; 24 people who have opened their hearts and their wallets to help a community on the other side of the world.

The bus arrives early, and we begin loading stuff. We’ve got food, games, and raffle prizes – so many raffle prizes that everyone could walk away with a prize. And then we all pile on to the bus.

There are so many wineries in the Yarra Valley that it was hard for us to whittle it down to just four for this tour. We’ve been to many of them, but this time, we wanted to try some new estates.

The Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, is one of the premier winery locations in Australia. With more than 70 vineyards, it is a cool climate region best known for chardonnays, pinot noir and sparkling wines. But don’t discount their shiraz. In fact, we’re yet to find a wine we don’t like from this region.

But I digress, back to the tour.

Writer Diane and sister Julie on a unicorn at Helen and Joey Estate winery in the Yarra Valley

Julie and I on a unicorn at Helen and Joey Estate in the Yarra Valley.

First stop on our fundraising winery tour was Helen and Joeys. We were met by our host Emily and immediately made to feel welcome as she took us through the list of wines on their books. We stood on the expansive timber deck, overlooking the vines.

But the best bit about Helen and Joeys was the life-size Unicorn overlooking the spectacular views. Because seriously, what could be better than sitting on the back of a unicorn in a winery?!

From here we went on to Punt Road, which we had to include on the list as it happens to be one of Ade’s favourite wineries. Again they scuttled us outside and our group dispersed to the tables and the bocce pitch to enjoy the sunshine. Did I mention it was about 28 degrees in Melbourne? A perfect Autumn day.

Punt Road didn’t disappoint. The wines are beautiful, and the setting relaxing.

Lunch was at the beautiful old Yarra Valley Grand Hotel in Yarra Glen and then we were off to the next winery, Morgan Vineyards.

Our host, Simon, welcomed us warmly. He was funny and accommodating, nothing was too much trouble. The cellar door was small, but the vineyard was beautiful, a little boutique winery with roaming dogs and sheep.

After working our way through the list we moved on to our last vineyard for the day, Killara Estate. The views here are amazing. Our host Kevin ushered us down to the bottom deck, where we had the most amazing views over the vineyards and the rolling Yarra Valley hills, complete with kangaroos grazing in the fields.

Group photo from our winery fundraising tour in the Yarra Valley.

Raising money and drinking wine in the Yarra Valley…

Again Kevin took us through the wines, he was funny and helpful. And a shout out here to Killara, which donated the tasting fees back to us to give to Amari.

Overall we raised just over $2000 through games on the bus, banned words and ticket prices for the day. All the money will go to our friends at Amari to help them build a new kitchen for the school.

Not bad for a day’s outing. And we had a lot of fun in the process.

Yarra Valley – Fast Facts

We spent a day in the Yarra Valley, but as it’s not far from where we grew up, we’ve spent many days trying the different vineyards, and visiting the quaint towns.

How long should you spend here? You can spend a day on a tour, a weekend, or a week in the Yarra Valley, and you’ll find plenty to do and see.

Highlights: sitting on a unicorn in a winery, watching the kangaroos in the vineyards, driving through the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley.

Tip: If you’ve got the time check out the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and the Yarra Valley Dairy.

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