Saturday, April 6, 2013


As a non-wine drinker the thought of a wine tour of the Yarra Valley might not sound too exciting at first but after thinking about it for a few days, and throwing in the added bonus of visiting a chocolate factory I took it as the best opportunity to learn more about the various types of wine out there and see, if in fact there was a type of wine that I do like. So off I went with twenty of my fellow Irishmen and women on a mini bus to the Yarra Valley for a day of wine and chocolate indulgence.

Gathering across from Flinders Street station, our first stop was Lilydale to pick up our tour guide for the day. Climbing into the bus, our guide immediately apologised in advance telling us we may run into some confusion as to what she was saying as she was Irish....little did she know that the bus (apart from the driver) was full of Irish people. When this become apparent, we all knew that we were in for a fun afternoon.

Our first winery turned out to be Soumah. Soumah is a family vineyard and wine business producer located in the Warramate foothills of the Yarra Valley. Soumah is an acronym for their dress circle location South of Maroondah Highway (Soumah). The Butcher families passion for horticulture and wine is the driving-force for making super premium wines with varietal and regional character. Their first two vintages attracted many accolades including the exclusive Savarro winning consecutive trophies at the 2011 and 2012 Federation Square Wine Showcase as well as now gathering not less than 14 medals and trophies. This winery turned out to be my favourite at the end of the day. The white wines were crisp, fresh and full of flavour. I've been looking out for them ever since.

 We then headed to Mandala Wines - where we tasted a larger selection of reds. These really didn't do anything for me, but that's just me and not the wines. We stayed here for lunch before hitting the chocolate factory and at this stage a bit of nourishment was highly needed. The dishes of the day included papperdelle with lamb ragu, pea and ham risotto and grilled salmon fillet. I opted for the pasta but each meal looked amazing and tasted equally so judging by the ooo-ing and ahh-ing from around the table.

 No time to dilly daddle, we were straight back on the bus this time to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. This was when I, at twenty six years of age squealed with child-like delight. I had never been to a chocolate factory so I wasn't sure exactly what I was in store for but when we arrived all my dreams had been fulfilled. Three large metal bowls maybe a meter in diameter each stood at the entrance, each filled with milk, dark and white chocolate drops and the best part was these mounds of chocolate were free for tasting. Its not really hard to believe that each visitor in the building kept walking around and around scooping spoonfuls of these into their hands. I surely did and if ever my gluttonous side emerged it was during this trip. We wandered around the chocolate shop looking at the various slabs they produced and each sounded as delicious as the next and when I arrived at the canisters of melted chocolate swirling around next to the coffee stand I died and went to heaven. It was death by chocolate for sure and having filled up on free chocolate drops it took all the will power I could muster to remove myself from the building.

Our last stop for the afternoon was Coombe Farm. Coombe Farm wines are classically varietal and regionally expressive according to our tour guide and known for being elegant and fresh. Handcrafted in very small volumes, entirely from estate grown fruit that has been chosen as the best the vineyard has to offer. Around eighty percent of their crop is sold to other wine makers. The first wine made under the Coombe Farm label was a Pinot Noir in 2002. Since then the range has developed into a small yet comprehensive display of both the traditional and alternative varieties that Coombe Farm and the Yarra Valley do best. I have to say that despite all the hype about how great this particular brand was from our guide, I much preferred Soumah.

I cant say now that I am wine drinker but I had an absolute blast throughout the trip. The scenery is amazing the people friendly and I would highly recommend a trip there soon.

For more information check out the various websites for each winery below.

Soumah -
Mandala -
Coombe Farm -
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery -


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