Victoria – Yarra Valley – Taking the high road

By Louise Johnson
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Dominique Portet

Dominique Portet

TarraWarra Estate
Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps cellar door, Healesville, Victoria


Take the scenic route to the Yarra Valley and follow the high road from the end of the western ring road through Diamond Creek, over Kangaroo Ground to Yarra Glen.  You can see the remains of the bush fire scars on the surrounding hills - a stark reminder of how close the fires came to wiping out this beautiful region.

As you descend into Yarra Glen you have the best views across the valley. Mid-morning the sun highlights the vineyards and cellar doors waiting for you to arrive. Here are our recommendations for a quick jaunt through the Yarra Valley.

Stop 1 - TarraWarra

Great chardonnay and pinot noir to taste at this intriguing mud-brick cellar door, which also houses a restaurant and the amazing TarraWarra Museum of Art. Allow some time to explore the range, which includes the Estate range and the Tin Cows range, as well as the gallery.

Open daily 11 - 5
311 Healesville Yarra Glen Road
Yarra Glen
Tel: 03 5962 3311



Stop 2 - Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander

If you took your time browsing the wines and art of TarraWarra you’ll be ready for an early lunch and some more tastings. Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander lies at the end of the main street in Healesville and serves up great pizzas. Make sure you book ahead if you want a table, especially if there’s a group of you. Otherwise you may have to be content with just tasting the wines – not bad compensation.

Open Mon-Friday 10 - 10; Weekends 8 - 10
336 Maroondah Hwy
Tel: 03 5962 6111



Stop 3 - White Rabbit Brewery

Did you miss out on a table at Innocent Bystander Cafe? Never mind. Just across the car park the lad’s of Little Creatures fame in Fremantle, WA, have opened the White Rabbit Brewery. They produce just one beer here, a tasty little white rabbit, and also dish up simple lunchtime meals including a very impressive barbeque setup that greets you at the front door. The beer’s great and a refreshing change, especially if you’ve been slugging sweet moscato across the road.

Open Sun-Thurs 10.30-6.30; Fri-Sat 10.30- 10
316 Maroondah Highway
Tel: 03 5962 6516



Stop 4 - Dominique Portet

Before opening his Yarra Valley winery and cellar door, Dominique Portet was a flying winemaker. He managed Taltarni and also developed the Clover Hill Vineyard in Tasmania.  He is a ninth generation winemaker, but is the first in his family to establish a vineyard in the family name. Born and raised in Bordeaux he has created a unique cellar door and vineyard, which you can tour on foot or by helicopter, which lifts off from the lawn in front of the impressive vine-covered winery building.

Open daily 10-5
870 Maroondah Highway
Tel: 03 5962 5760



Stop 5 - Domaine Chandon

The perfect place to learn about sparkling wines, so make sure you time your visit to coincide with one of the tours – the latest is at 3pm. The tours offer a fascinating insight into the world of wine production and you can see winemaking in progress, visit the barrel cellar and the riddling hall and finish off with a great regional tasting platter and a flight of Domaine Chandon’s sparkling and still wines.

Open daily 10.30 – 4.30
Maroondah Hwy
Tel: 03 9738 9200



Stop 6 - Punt Road

If you’re heading back to Melbourne through Yarra Glen, then Punt Road is a good last stop as you complete the circuit. Winemaker Kate Goodwin is one of the region’s hottest young winemakers and look out for the MVN range at the cellar door. These wines are made in tiny quantities and are a tribute to Punt Road's original vigneron - Michael Vivian Napoleone. Superb!

Open daily 10 – 5
10 St Huberts Road
Tel: 03 9739 0666




  • Melbourne Surrounds (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley, Dandenongs and the Ranges (VIC)

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June 23rd, 2009
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