I’ve seen Dirty Dancing before, of course. As a proud child of the 80s, who hasn’t seen it at least a dozen times? But this time was different.
This time I got to hear those famous lines: “Nobody puts baby in the corner” and “I carried a watermelon” on the big screen, under the stars, on the lawns of the famous Australian Opera Singer Dame Nellie Melba’s house.
And so began our eventful weekend in the Yarra Valley, best known as one of Victoria’s – and Australia’s – top winery regions.
Dirty Dancing was every bit as cheesy as I remembered, and I loved every minute of it, I also loved the surroundings – manicured gardens and quaint buildings and of course local wines for purchase.
The following day it was Rochford Winery’s turn to impress. And they did. Rochford hosts some of the biggest names in music – usually the biggest names of days gone by but sometimes they host current acts as well – at their regular event, A Day on the Green.
And so we spent a very pleasant – and very hot – Saturday afternoon singing along to the Machinations, the Models, the B52s and Simple Minds. Oh, and you can’t spend an afternoon at a winery and not taste the wines, so we did a bit of that too!
Rochford is the kind of sprawling vineyard the Yarra Valley is renowned for with a lovely modern dining room and vines stretching as far as the eye can see.
While in the Yarra Valley you can’t limit yourself to just one winery, of course, and there are so many to choose from. But how do you decide which ones to visit and which ones to save for next time?
Afterall, there are about 160 wineries and 300 vineyards here.
Of course there are the larger and better known wineries – Rochford, De Bortoli, Domain Chandon and Yering Station – but there are also a lot of small wineries that are well worth a visit too.
A couple of our favourites are Punt Road and St Huberts cellar door, both have a lovely, intimate feel to them. Coldstream Hills has lovely views and was established by the famous ‘wine guy’ James Halliday, and TarraWarra Estate is just stunning!
But there is a lot more to see in the Yarra Valley than just the wineries, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is a great stop for the sweet tooth – again, those views! – and Coldstream Brewery serves up some great beers in a lovely atmosphere.
After all that wine you’d probably be feeling a little peckish. You could stop for lunch in one of the wineries, or head into Yarra Glen or Healesville, but we love the cheese platters at Coldstream Dairy – oh and you can do a wine tasting here too, if you haven’t quite had enough from all those wineries! The dairy is very rustic and very Australian, the kind of place you can sit and watch the birds flying over the dairy paddocks.
And if you still need more to do, head for a walk at Maroondah Dam. look out for the rose steps and be sure to cross the dam wall. Or if cute and cuddly is more your thing, check out the native wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary.
We stayed with family in Coldstream.
We were here for two nights.
Was it long enough? You could spend weeks exploring the parks and wineries in the Yarra Valley, but a weekend is enough time to see the highlights.
Highlights: Coombe Estate is just lovely, the wines at Punt Road, those endless rolling hills of vines…
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