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If you want to really get to know the Yarra Valley, then the Melba Highway region will be a real treat. With a distinctly relaxed vibe, the area is easy to get to and home to some truly unique wineries and activities – and wine varietals just waiting for you to discover them.
After leaving Lilydale, head along the Maroondah Highway and take the left hand option to Melba Highway towards Yarra Glen. Check out our Alternative Taste Trail map for detailed directions and enjoy our suggested itinerary below.
We’ve highlighted some real life family owned and operated businesses for a truly bespoke experience – close to the source.
Feed your soul - Our recommended first stop is the Yarra Valley Edible Forest for all things edible, medicinal, delicious. Take an Edible Forest garden tour and discover how herbs and plants can not only make food taste better, but also bring your best game healthwise as well.
All in the family - Considered one of the most delightful vineyard views in Australia, Sutherland Estate is not to be missed. Worth it for the views alone, you’ll also appreciate the wines made here at this family owned operation
Lunch and elegant wines of distinction - that is the Steels Gate Winery experience and it’s next on your list. Enjoy a tasting at the cellar door and feel ‘exclusive’ with a special lunch menu overlooking the vines. You can enjoy tastings of the Bastardo and Graciano, jusst two unique varieties offered at the cellar door.
And today is the day you can expand your wine palate even further by sampling new varietals such as Gamay Noir, Dolce Rosso, Verdelho, or even a Gewurtztraminer at some of the other vineyards on this trail. It’s all part of the Alternative Taste experience.
After lunch, a short drive will have you in the historic township of Yarra Glen. Stretch your legs as you wander the local antique shops and curiosities, many still family owned. There are no chain stores and several historic buildings to admire on this tree lined street.
The afternoon has two highlights for you to enjoy. First stop is Yileena Park Winery, a boutique vineyard situated on the north slope of Christmas Hills, which provides the cool and protected climate for their distinctive wines.
This family have also mastered the smokehouse with a range of delicious cheeses and condiments magically touched with the smokey infusion of French oak barrels (and if you’re peckish you can order a platter for afternoon tea!).
Steels Creek Estate is the smallest winery in the Yarra Valley but the five acres of vines truly deliver on their five varieties of minimal intervention wines. Hyper boutique and hyper local, you will be chatting to the wine maker at the cellar door with a perfect view of the winery in action.
There’s no need to go home yet. Today’s itinerary takes you from one of the smallest to the one of largest wineries for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner. The De Bortoli family have been making wine in the Yarra Valley since the 1920s with a fourth generation now starting to learn the techniques and philosophy that makes this such a special vineyard. Enjoy a tasting and book the award winning restaurant ‘Locale’ for dinner and enjoy the family affair to round out a perfect Alternative Taste day.
Head home safely knowing you’ve supported some truly local and long-standing, family-run businesses – and filled your wine cellar and your belly too.
Or what about this? No-one would blame you for checking in for the night at a gorgeous B and B, hotel or cottage so you can wake up fresh in the Yarra Valley. Go on!
This Alternative Taste trail is a perfect self-drive day out (thank you designated driver); however, you always have the option of enjoying a bespoke tour and/or transfers from one of our super knowledgeable and delightful tour companies so everyone in your party is free to enjoy the cellar door and more.