Day Out in the Yarra Valley

6/15/2018 08:45:00 AM

View from Tokar Estate Winery

What a lovely view! Over the Easter weekend, we took a little day trip to the Yarra Valley with our friend Jess and it was such fun! Normally my day trips and weekends away are planned with military precision - locations are Googled and shortlisted, menus are downloaded and studied intensely beforehand, and I craft up an itinerary. However, this time I took it easy. (I swear!) Jess chose the lunch location, and after lunch we just drove around and stopped in at places that looked good. We came across lots of little gems and it was just a great day! Even being designated driver couldn't take the shine off the day. Let's take a look!

We started with lunch at Tokar Estate Winery (6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream, VIC 3770). Jess had been here before and recommended it. They're a bit of a smaller winery, and don't get as crazy busy as some of the bigger, more corporate, ones in the Yarra Valley. (I would still recommend booking though). The food and wine were delicious, and it was lovely to sit on the terrace with the views across the gardens and vineyard.

Lunch at Tokar Estate Winery

You can do two or three courses with a glass of wine for $60 or $75, and the food is modern Australian-European. Jess is a coeliac, and the staff were lovely and able to advise on which dishes were suitable, and which could be adapted for her. (They even brought out gluten-free bread with the oil and dukkah at the start - woohoo).

Smoked Pork Belly - pickled fennel & carrot, house mustard - $18

Pan Seared Baby Barramundi - curried cauliflower purée, roast pumpkin, herb & almond salad - $37

Slow Braised Duck Leg - roast carrot purée, braised red cabbage with pancetta & figs - $37

Apple Ricotta Fritters - Honey, cardamom & vanilla syrup, cinnamon ice cream - $16
Chocolate Frozen Parfait - salted caramel, yuzu curd, peanut brittle praline - $16

The food was great, and the restaurant was a bit of a hidden gem - thanks Jess for the hot tip! 

Driving away from Tokar Estate, we saw a sign for Coldstream Dairy (735 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream 3770), so we thought we'd pop in. I hadn't heard of the dairy previously, but it was really great. It's a small family-run dairy with a great range of cheeses and other dairy products. They're really friendly and generous with the tastings - I'd highly recommend visiting. 

Coldstream Dairy

I bought a couple of marinated fetas and some yogurt to take home - both delicious.

Coldstream Dairy

And they had a gorgeous doggy! More bonus points.

Coldstream Dairy Doggy

While we were at the dairy, the person behind the counter recommended that we pop across the street and visit Warramunda Winery (860 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, VIC 3770), so we did! Like Coldstream Dairy, Warramunda is a small family-run operation. You can buy cheese and charcuterie platters there, as well as coffees, but we were still quite full from lunch so just did a tasting.

Warramunda Winery

The tasting was really enjoyable. From memory it was $5 per person, but this is redeemable upon purchase, and it's a pretty good tasting. It's very relaxed - no elbowing your way through crowds of people like some of the larger wineries! They took us through their range of wines, and gave us some manchego to refresh our palates between wines. They also explained about the wines in detail, and patiently answered our questions. I was super interested in this tasting sheet they showed us (the pink one in the picture above), which is a kind of translation key between western and Chinese flavours, for the many mainland Chinese tourists who come through the Valley and would have grown up with different flavour profiles from locals. (I had never thought about this before, but it must make it so much easier for Chinese wine lovers!) Interestingly, "vanilla" translates to "pine nut", and "toast" translates to "ginko nut". I didn't partake in the tasting (designated driver, remember?) but Jess and Sandra loved it, and we bought a few bottles to bring home with us.

And finally, on the way home we stopped by the Yarra Valley Dairy cheese shop (70 – 80 McMeikans Road, Yering VIC 3770). Obviously this isn't as much of a "hidden gem" as the other places we visited, but I do love it!

Yarra Valley Dairy

Funnily enough, any time I come to the dairy, I'm usually way too full to actually get a cheese platter or coffee and cake. But I do love poking around the gourmet shop, and usually buy some cheese. The girls did another wine tasting (Chardonnays were being featured - hooray), and bought some more wines to bring home.

All in all, a very productive and fun day!

Do you like the Yarra Valley? Do you prefer the big destinations or the little boutique places? Do you have any hot tips for places to visit next time?

Tokar Estate Winery
6 Maddens Lane
Coldstream, VIC 3770
Ph: (03) 5964-9585
Tokar Estate Winery & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coldstream Dairy
735 Maroondah Hwy
Coldstream, VIC 3770
Ph: (03) 9739-1353

Warramunda Winery
860 Maroondah Highway
Coldstream, VIC 3770
Ph: 0412 694 394

Yarra Valley Dairy
70-80 Mcmeikans Rd
Yering, VIC 3770
Ph: (03) 9739-1222
Yarra Valley Dairy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.