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About Australia, Part 6 (wrapping up my birthday)

October 13, 2011

After we finished our sunrise hot air balloon ride and champagne breakfast, the owner of the balloon company asked Howdy and I if we were interested in also signing up for a wine tour. The other couple staying at our hotel (Steve and Melody) were going on the tour and he had noticed we had all hit it off throughout the morning, so since also he felt bad about the transportation debacle, he had called the tour company to see if there was room for us on that tour – and they had two openings.

We didn’t have anything specific planned for the rest of the day, and had considered coming back to the Yarra Valley to do some wine tasting anyway, so we said sure! Six of us from our balloon ride were taken over to Yering Station to meet the tour. We were a little early so we took the time to chat more with each other. Howdy and I had already spent the entire day with Steve and Melody, but the 4 of us got acquainted with Keith and Chloe, who were from Singapore. Then the tour showed up and it was time to get the party started!

Following Yering Station, the tour actually took us back to Rochford Wines where we had ended the balloon ride with our champagne breakfast. We had a wine tasting followed by a delicious lunch. I had the Beet Risotto, which was really, really good. I’m normally pretty “meh” about beets, but this risotto was fantastic!

After lunch we headed over to another vineyard called Yering Farm. They have a small boutique winery and it was definitely different from some of the others we saw, but I just loved the view.

Our last stop on the wine tour was at Domaine Chandon. Domaine Chandon is owned by the famous French makers of champagne – Möet & Chandon, and was opened back in the 80s to server the Australian and Asian markets. They have several vineyards, with the primary one being the Greenpoint vineyard we visisted. This vineyard only grows the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes used to make “sparkling wine”. But another Chandon vineyard in the area is planted for Shiraz, and the wine is also excellent. (Fun fact for those who don’t already know: “Shiraz” is also known as “Syrah”. For some interesting reading on why there are several names for this type of grape, see the always entertaining, sometimes factual – wikipedia!).

The Domaine Chandon winery was beautiful. It was the more expensive of the tastings (we didn’t actually pay separately, ours was included in the tour), but our tour operator told us that they used to offer free tastings until they started to get bombarded with “hen parties” and other groups who would stay all day and just “taste” the free wine… so the price is more to encourage serious tasting trips than anything else. We spent quite a bit of time at Domaine Chandon chatting with the rest of our group – mainly Steve & Melody, Keith & Chloe, a mom and her college-age son from Christchurch, New Zealand, and a couple who were living in Australia, but the girl was an American (Air Force brat) and the guy was Irish. We had a very interesting talk with the Kiwis about the earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier this year, and how the rebuilding was going, etc…(over a few glasses of wine, of course).

We bought a few bottles of wine to bring home with us (1 from Rochford, 3 from Chandon). It was a beautiful day in the Yarra Valley, and we had a great time on the tour. Our tour operator was funny, nice and knowledgeable – all the things you want in a tour guide – and the group we were with was awesome. When the tour concluded the tour bus drove us back into the city and dropped us off at various stops near our hotels. After getting up at 3am, the excitement of the balloon ride, the good food and lots of wine, followed by an hour-long bus ride with the sun streaming through the windows, I managed to take a pretty good nap on the way back to Melbourne!

We made plans with Steve and Melody to meet up with them after dinner. Howdy and I went back to our room and took another long nap. We had only planned to sleep for 2 hours before dinner, but ended up sleeping for 3 and a half! Steve called our room as they were heading out to dinner to establish the time and place to meet them (1opm – Rooftop bar), and I’m glad he did or we might have slept right through the night! We got ready quickly and went down to dinner, but we were still running late to rendezvous at the bar. To make matters a little more complicated we could not find it! I was following the iPhone directions, but I felt like we went around in circles for a bit… but luckily they were running a bit late too, and we happened to bump into them on the street as we were walking around like little lost tourists, and so we all arrived together and it worked out perfectly.

We were out until a little after midnight. It started to get pretty chilly on the rooftop and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. As we all headed back to the hotel Howdy and I said we felt so old because we couldn’t stay out all night like we used to. I blame the early morning and all the sun and wine we had that day. 😉

Overall, it was a fantastic birthday, and a great way to usher in the last year of my 20s!!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 1:05 pm

    I’m so jealous of this trip it’s not even funny. I kind of hate you right now. But I’m all conflicted because you two definitely deserve this amazing trip.

    • October 15, 2011 2:35 pm

      Love you, V! 🙂 We planned this trip for so long, that even looking at these pictures sometimes it seems so surreal that we were really there and did all these things! Can’t recommend it enough though!

  2. October 17, 2011 10:23 am

    This sounds so amazing. You know I love wine tasting, and those vineyards look so beautiful! I am also jealous 🙂

    • October 27, 2011 2:36 pm

      I mentioned to V on FB, but don’t know if you saw it – the 3 of us and our boys need to plan a trip to Napa ASAP!!


  1. A brief interruption « If Here Was There
  2. About Australia, part 7 (Phillip Island) « If Here Was There

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