Where are the best wineries close to Melbourne? Sometimes you are time-poor, or you just don't want to travel 3-4 hours to a wine region. Here are some great wineries relatively close to Melbourne.
It's the most beautiful time of the year when long afternoons stretch into late inky evenings, wineries throw open their cellar doors, and we all get stuck into the good stuff. With a significant chunk of the year spent tucked away plotting our summer escapes, there's no better place to start the Christmas break than a long lunch in a vineyard. So dust off your Akubra, polish up the RMs, and check out our roundup of the best wineries Victoria has to offer.
Victoria is home to some of Australia's marquee wine regions between the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula. And although these two big players lay claim to the lion's share of Victoria's best wineries, there are great places to try all across the state.
From quirky and historic wineries in the Grampians to Goulburn Valley stalwarts to newer entrants that lay on Melbourne's doorstep, Victoria is peppered with wineries to try. Some have world-class restaurants and outlooks, some have cellar doors whose tastings have extra-generous pours, and some have owners with a great yarn to spin.
To be clear, this isn't a guide to the best Victorian wines – these are our favourite wineries to visit, maybe for just a tasting, or maybe for something more involved such as a long lunch or an overnight stay.
44 Merricks Rd, Merricks, Victoria, 3916, Australia
(03) 5989 8868
Merricks Creek is a stunning bespoke winery on the glorious Mornington Peninsula. A pleasant one hour drive will take you to Merricks Creek, where it doesn't take long to relax with their standout Pinot Noir and Estate Chardonnay.
They produce close-planted Pinot Noir, which is often acclaimed as some of the best in Australia (made in the French Burgundy tradition). Not only is the wine sensational, but the views are stunning. You can grab a table on the raised timber deck, and it feels like you're sitting in the vineyard (which is metres away). Take in the seasons of the vineyard (excellent in both summer and winter).
You can also hire The Garden View Table for group bookings - enjoy food and wine around a large 100-year-old pine slab from the Jamieson High Country.
The cellar door offers a first-class tasting experience, often with the winemaker and owner, Dr Peter Parker. This is a family-run winery and exudes enthusiasm and passion for all things wine, notably Pinot Noir. In addition to all this, Merricks Creek offers excellent gourmet tasting plates at a reasonable price (currently around $15) and a glass of wine is also reasonably priced at $10 per glass (other places charge up to $17 a glass).
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road Yarra Glen 3775
One small square of Tarra Warra Estate's 400 hectares – beyond the cellar door, restaurant and art gallery – is devoted to its vegetable garden. There are rows of potatoes, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Tuscan kale.
Head chef Mark Ebbels worked in the UK in the development kitchen at The Fat Duck, then in Singapore where he worked for six years as chef de cuisine at Bacchanalia, which was when the restaurant won its first Michelin star.
The food at Tarra Warra is unpredictable and invigorating. Six of the 12 savoury dishes feature meat. The rest of the menu is vegan.
The butteriest sauces are butter-free; mayonnaise and chocolate mousse are made with whipped chickpea-cooking liquid in place of egg whites; a dessert of Jerusalem artichoke ice cream and ale custard is devoid of cream and eggs.
A Panko-crumbed nugget of cauliflower with a tarragon, parsley and lemon gremolata is topped with shaved truffles. The beef dish is Blackmore's 7+ score Wagyu short-rib off the bone. It's sliced, so the fat marbling is visible and served with a red wine just made from cellar-door leftovers.
The short-rib is cooked for 48 hours using a hybrid confit-sous vide method. First, the meat is submerged in grapeseed oil in a tray that is lowered into the water. Next, the sous vide circulators sit in the water, swirling it at a steady 64 degrees to cook the meat evenly. This is done to eliminate the plastic bag from the sous vide process.
And the kitchen uses as little plastic as possible, with a vision for a single-use-plastic-free restaurant eventually.
44 Paringa Road Red Hill South 3937
03 5989 2669
Paringa Estate is one of a handful of vineyards that pioneered commercial winemaking on the Mornington Peninsula. The small pocket of land was a derelict apple orchard until Lindsay McCall acquired it in 1984. The self-taught winemaker spent the following few years planting 10 acres of vines and produced his first vintage in '87.
The Peninsula's cool climate can be challenging for local vignerons, but McCall and his son Jamie (who joined as assistant winemaker in 2012) have a few tricks up their sleeve. The primary estate on Paringa Road is a natural amphitheatre, trapping the sun in the gully and warming the vines naturally. U-shaped trellises are also employed in several places. This labour-intensive design prevents mildew and improves sun exposure and yields.
The Paringa restaurant was built in 1999 to showcase the estate's maturing range of wines. The Peninsula series vintages are produced with fruit from five locally leased vineyards, while the Estate series is crafted from lower yielding vines, some more than 30 years old. The Single Vineyard series is made with fruit from Paringa's oldest and most established blocks, just below the restaurant, and includes pinot noir, chardonnay and Shiraz.
For wines with magnificent valley views, the Paringa Estate Winery on the Mornington Peninsula is beautiful. The restaurant is practically in the vineyard, and as a result, you feel like you are dining in the vines. This estate is most famous for its chardonnay and pinot noir. It also makes one of the countries top cool-climate Shiraz. You can taste these wines in the cellar door with the guidance of experienced cellar door staff. This is one slick winery with sensational views and just over an hour from Melbourne.
Space itself is relatively modest but serves food worth travelling for. Head chef Joel Alderson (Attica, Royal Mail Hotel) runs a four-course set menu, and it's less a degustation than a traditional entrée-main-dessert arrangement. So expect top-quality Saltwater Barramundi crusted with sesame and cashew, and Sher Wagyu Beef with beetroot Char Sui, buttered radish and tarragon.
Point Leo Estate
3649 Frankston-Flinders Road Merricks 3916
03 5989 9011
Without knowing who owns Point Leo Estate, it's clear a certain amount of money has gone into the place. Even the carpark is immaculately signposted and asphalted. On busy days, golf carts zip up and down the slight incline, carrying guests to the Grand Arch (a sculpture by Inge King), and the main building's towering concrete walls, which screen the spectacular view from new arrivals.
Walk through these imposing grey curtains to reveal the gentle curve of Western Port Bay and, in the foreground, a sculpture park is containing 40 works from renowned local and international artists. The vast restaurant, cellar door and wine terrace have a 180-degree vantage of it all.
The Gandel family (of shopping centre fame) spent some $50 million doing up the 130-hectare site. It was a working winery and private retreat for more than two decades before it opened to the public in late 2017. Melbourne-based architecture firm Jolson designed the fluid-looking main building in the image of wine being poured into a glass.
Taken as a whole, it's big, and it's overwhelming. First-timers should start at the island bench that acts as the cellar door and sample the estate's chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir and Shiraz – of which there are many vintages. Just be warned: at $40 to $60, these aren't the best value bottles on the Peninsula.
Move onto a shared lunch in the restaurant, made with local produce such as Cape Schanck Olive Oil, pork from Woolumbi Farm and cheese from Main Ridge Dairy. Or you could book into 40-seat fine diner Laura for a full degustation.
The sculpture park is curated by Geoffrey Edwards, the former director of Geelong Gallery and a former senior curator of international and Australian sculpture at the National Gallery of Victoria. He's chosen to showcase local and international artists including Tony Cragg, George Rickey, Jaume Plensa, Lenton Parr and Andrew Rogers. Two serpentine paths guide visitors through the gardens – one is a 40-minute walk, the other takes around an hour and a half. There's an admission fee for both, and the park is open to 5 pm daily.
111 Bests Road Great Western 3377
(03) 5356 2250
The first vines were planted at Best's Wines in 1867, making it one of the oldest wineries in the Grampians region. Because it's on the Western Highway, it's an ideal rest stop on a drive between towns.
Tastings are held inside a cabin built by the Best family in 1869. The wide range includes riesling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and dolcetto. But Best's strength is Shiraz. Consequently, its top-of-the-range versions – the Thomson Family Shiraz and the Bin 0 Shiraz – are only produced during selected vintages.
Some vines are so old they can't be identified, so they're blended into Nursery Block Dry Red. Knowledgeable staff will tell you the characteristics and history of each drink and perfectly match it to a cheeseboard.
There are a few tables and chairs inside. Outside there's a park bench where you can enjoy a glass in the sun while taking in the surrounding vineyards.
Don't leave without a tour of the Concongella cellar, named after a nearby creek. It was hand dug by the Best family in the 1860s. It houses huge wine barrels and walls of dusty bottles.
Patricia's Table at Brown Brothers Winery
239 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road Milawa 3678
(03) 5720 5540
Brown Brothers have been around for a long time. Since 1889 to be exact when founder John Francis Brown planted a vineyard at Milawa. He was just 18 years old. Four generations on, and the winery is still based on this same land.
Brown Brothers launched the "kindergarten", a micro-winery dedicated to experimenting with winemaking techniques and exploring new styles and varietals to celebrate its centenary.
Brown Brothers were the first winery in Australia to open a restaurant on-site, solving that problem of too much wine tasting and not enough food to soak it up with.
At fine-dining restaurant Patricia's Table, entrees include a goats-milk-ricotta tart with peppers, candied black olives, pine nuts and tomato jelly; and fried quail breast and terrine served with apple kimchi and yuzu mayonnaise. Mains take a hearty turn, perfect for a comforting winter lunch. There's honey-glazed pork with Italian coleslaw, boudin noir hash brown and apple relish, and rolled goat shoulder with pickled pumpkin and lentil dahl.
Next door, the more relaxed Epi.Curious offers cheese and charcuterie boards, light meals, coffee and cake. Here you can also enjoy a wine flight or simply a glass or two out on the lawn.
864 Maroondah Highway Coldstream 3770
(03) 9738 9900
Even in the Yarra Valley, where every bend in the road reveals a striking new vista, Oakridge Wines has it made. Its north-facing dining room and outdoor deck look onto ten undulating hectares planted with pinot noir, Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, Semillon and merlot. Beyond, thickly forested hills run to the horizon, completing the calming panorama. You'll feel your pulse slowing before you've had your first sip of wine.
The tasting room and cellar door is open daily, but we'd suggest timing your visit to coincide with the restaurant's opening hours. Although chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone are no longer helming the kitchen here, their cooking philosophies – founded on keeping an abundant kitchen garden and forging close relationships with local farmers and growers – persist under new executive chef Aaron Brodie.
A dish of smoked trout, cultured cream, local caviar and a caraway croissant is a menu mainstay and excellent example. Another is the kitchen's brie, made with milk from a one-person, 12-cow operation down the road. And how about the parfait flavoured with spent oranges from local distiller Four Pillars and topped with finger lime? The tasting menu offers all this and more, or you can order a la carte.
The vineyard has been here since 1998, and for 20 years prior, it was located in Seville. Husband and wife Tony D'Aloisio (a former Asic chairman) and Ilana Atlas (who held board positions at Coca-Cola, ANZ and others) took over in 2007. They've been slowly expanding the business since. In Gladysdale and Woori Yallock, two additional vineyards now provide Oakridge with pinot gris, pinot noir and chardonnay.
Rob Dolan Wines
The Yarra Valley is the most prestigious and well-known wine region in Victoria. One of the nearest wineries to Melbourne is Rob Dolan Wines. This winery is just a 30-minute drive from Melbourne's CBD (of course, you should never drink and drive). The winery and cellar door is located in leafy Warrandyte South, a beautiful part of the Yarra Valley. When you visit Rob Dolan Wines, you can enjoy tasting its wines with a wine specialist. Overlooking the vineyard, you can sip and sample some local produce before buying bottles to take home with you.
Red Hill Estate
53 Shoreham Road Red Hill South Vic 3937
03 5989 2838
Just an hour from Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula, is Red Hill Estate winery. A stunning property in a stunning setting, this is the place to come and sip wine amongst the vines. You'll also soak up the fabulous views of Westernport Bay. The estate produces delicious pinot noir, Shiraz and chardonnay. However, it produces lots of other wines too, for instance, its delicious prosecco.
Galli Estate Winery
1507 Melton Hwy, Plumpton VIC 3335, Australia
Some 35km from Melbourne in the Heathcote and Sunbury wine region lies the Galli Estate Winery. This winery uses sustainable vineyard practices, for instance, using natural fertiliser and minimal spraying. It produces a variety of wines, including sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay, shiraz, viognier, tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. The best way to enjoy these wines is to visit the impressive cellar door and restaurant. Enjoy sweeping views over the vines as you sample as many wines as possible.
520 Great Ocean Rd, Bellbrae, VIC 3228
If you are travelling along the Great Ocean Road, the Bellbrae Estate is an ideal stop-off. This winery is five minutes from Bells Beach, and we swear you can taste the ocean in the glass. The wines made here are a true expression of the region. As such, we suggest pairing them with local produce too. You can do so at the estate's cellar door, and you can also enjoy a tasting on the veranda accompanied by live music.
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, VIC
Within 50 minutes of leaving the centre of Melbourne, you can be popping corks and sipping bubbly at Chandon Australia. Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, this popular winery specialises in sparkling wine. Its traditions hail from the grand Champagne house Moët & Chandon. The winery has one of the largest ranges of premium, méthode traditionally sparkling wines in Australia. On a visit, there are many things to do, for instance, you can enjoy the tasting bar, restaurant and lounge bar. Also, be sure to spend some time relaxing on the outdoor terraces with magnificent views of the Yarra Ranges.
Cannibal Creek Vineyard
260 Tynong North Rd, Tynong North Victoria 3813
(03) 5942 8380
Cannibal Creek Vinyard is conveniently located an hour east of Melbourne. It is in the Gippsland wine region and has an award-winning restaurant and cellar door. This single estate vineyard makes French-inspired wine on-site using handpicked grapes, traditional methods and French oak. In the restaurant, chefs create dishes using French techniques and local ingredients. At a cellar door experience, you can taste the winery's extensive range. Wines include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet merlot, cabernet sauvignon, blanc de blanc and vin de liqueur. Enjoy the views of Mount Cannibal as you drink wine straight from the vineyard.
1 Fulford Road Wonga Park Victoria 3115 Australia
Kellybrook Winery is a popular winery with the punters, also on the edge of the Yarra Valley. Known for their Cider Festival, the locals in the know flock to this destination. Their ciders are more known than their wines (and their wines are top-notch), with the cider made in the champagne method as bottle fermented. Enjoy a wine or cider (or even a beer) at the cellar door, verandah or even in the gardens.
Arundel Farm Estate
321 Arundel Road Keilor VIC, 3036
Arundel Farm Estate is only some 27 min from Melbourne via the Calder Freeway in Melbourne's northwest. The good news is that it's a top-notch winery which we recently visited and were highly impressed with. A boutique winery with soul located in the Sunbury wine region, Arundel Farm Estate is family run.
A new modern cellar door awaits (check for opening times). The wines are of high quality. We managed to get a couple of bottles of their Shiraz, including a 2011 back vintage, which was delicious. Being a dry region, there is an intensity of the wines as the vines compete for moisture.
The estate has a winery, cellar door and restaurant, bluestone homestead, stables, and shearing shed.
Dal Zotto Trattoria
4861 Wangaratta-Whitfield Road Whitfield 3733
(03) 5729 8321
Otto Dal Zotto was born in Valdobbiadene, in the Veneto region of Italy – the original home of prosecco. So it's fitting that he helped pioneer the prosecco grape in Australia.
Otto tracked down an Italian living in Adelaide who had (legally) brought over two cuttings. It happened that the man used to reside five kilometres up the road from Otto's hometown. From those cuttings, Otto produced the first Australian prosecco in 2004. These days the Dal Zotto family makes five proseccos, both vintage and non-vintage, and an unfiltered, fruit-forward traditional style called col Fondo, which means "with sediment".
Among the full range of cool climate, high-altitude wines are Italian varietals such as Arneis, Garganega, barbera and Sangiovese, which are well matched to the trattoria's savoury Italian flavours.
The menu draws inspiration from the on-site market garden, which nonna Elena tends; she can't grow on-site, the restaurant sources as regionally as possible. Local Tolpuddle goats curd and housemade stracchino cheese feature in the antipasti and desserts.
Mains include housemade gnocchi with walnuts, sage, gorgonzola, pear and pumpkin; and Milawa duck confit with blackberry sauce on a sage, pancetta, chestnut and pea risotto.
Visitors can wander the vineyard, enjoy a supplied picnic on the lawn and, of course, taste their way through the winery's extensive list. Dal Zotto also hosts several events throughout the year, including a salami-making day.
La Cantina Cellar Door
54 Honeys Lane King Valley 3678
(03) 5729 3615
When 19-year-old Gino Corsini moved from Australia from Italy, he worked as a cane cutter in North Queensland before settling in the King Valley to grow tobacco. He planted his first vines in 1980, and by 1993, he and his son Peter had phased out tobacco farming entirely.
La Cantina's wines are all grown and made on site. Grapes are handpicked and hand-plunged. They settled in stainless steel before being transferred to oak and racked off the top to give that traditionally appealing clarity. The family predominantly grows Italian varietals such as Barbera, Sangiovese and pinot grigio – except for saperavi, a Georgian grape.
The Corsini's have never used any preservatives in their wine nor added anything such as sulphur. It's unfiltered, wild fermented, with skin contact. It was "natural wine" before the term became trendy.
The cellar door was built in 1995. Gino's grandfather was a stonemason, and so Gino and Peter built the cellar door in the same traditional Tuscan style. Originally the stone structure was all the space Gino needed to make and store his wine. But as the business has grown, space is now used for tastings and some storage, while the winemaking, ageing and bottling go on in the sheds up the back.
On weekends, Gino (now in his mid-80s) can be found in the winery, going about the bottling with his two grandchildren.