Step away from Melbourne’s thriving downtown and head to one of Victoria’s vineyards for a tranquil escape with some of the finest wine Australia has to offer. The region’s cooler maritime climate makes it perfect for growing grapes – particularly chardonnay and lighter reds like pinot noir – and within an hour’s drive from central Melbourne you’ll find a host of acclaimed wine producers twinned with stunning design-led hotels. Whether you’re a newcomer to wine or a seasoned oenophile, you’re spoilt for choice – and we’ve assembled some of the best in the area.
Jackalope ’s jet-black farmhouse in the Mornington Peninsula stands in stark contrast to the rolling hills of the 11-hectare Willow Creek Vineyard it overlooks. The accommodation within promises endless inspiration for design-lovers – from Japanese soaking tubs, crystal and copper Christopher Boots lighting installations and Autoban Nest chairs in certain suites to the giant Emily Floyd jackalope sculpture outside the main entrance. Spend your day tasting wines before soaking in the onyx infinity pool, which looks out onto the vineyard’s sloping hills. Retire to your room – or “lair”, as they’re known here – to book a wine-inspired spa treatment, head to dinner at one of the hotel’s pair of acclaimed restaurants, and finish off the day at Flaggerdoot, Jackalope’s fire-warmed cocktail lounge.
This award-winning vineyard is tucked away in Yarra Valley, a lush green region known for its cool climate and the mountainous Dandenong Ranges nearby. The seven-hectare vineyard is dominated by pinot noir and chardonnay vines, but also offers a broader selection including cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, rose and sparkling wines. For guests staying in one of the Balgownie Estate hotel’s 70 rooms, wine tastings are complimentary at Yarra Valley Cellar Door, where the label’s 50-year history comes to life through a selection of vintage wines charting the estate’s journey. Book a stay in one of the renovated spa suites, which come complete with sprawling vineyard views from private terraces, and go to dinner at the hotel’s Restaurant 1309 to enjoy modern Australian dishes like slow-cooked goat shoulder and grilled Buxton trout.
From the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip Estate ’s curved limestone walls harmonise with the area’s natural landscape. The property is bracketed by three vineyards, each focusing on chardonnay and pinot noir and adhering to sustainable farming practices. Schedule a tasting at Cellar Door Kitchen , the hotel’s restaurant, which boasts a beautiful alfresco dining terrace with spectacular vineyard and coastal views, and has a menu built around seasonal ingredients. Across just six understated, contemporary suites, the exclusive residence boasts top-quality amenities and art by legendary Australian photographer Bill Henson.
Seeking romantic seclusion? Crittenden Estate is home to Lakeside Villas , a collection of three well-appointed villas which sit over the lake on the grounds. Step out of the self-contained, standalone houses onto the roomy terraces to gaze out over millpond waters – and fire up the barbecue, an Australian culinary essential. While Crittenden Estate is best known for its pinot noir, wine-lovers can explore 26 different wines at the tasting centre in sessions led by experienced wine educators. Also on-site, the Australian Tourism Award-winning Stillwater restaurant offers fine-dining that shows off the best of seasonal, organic and locally grown produce in an elegant lakeside dining room. Privacy is paramount here: guests need have no contact with any staff or other guests if so desired.
This grand old dame of Yarra Valley is steeped in history: its residence dates back to 1854. It was reimagined as the five-star Chateau Yering in 1997, yet nods to the hotel’s heritage can still be seen in its sumptuous antique fittings and furnishings, including claw-foot bathtubs and European textiles. Eleanore’s Restaurant is a highlight, offering a five-course fine-dining menu paired with the hotel’s stable of local and international wines. Chateau Yering is just a stone’s throw from Yering Station winery and runs tours of Yarra Valley’s premier vineyards. Experts from neighbouring vineyards also regularly drop by the hotel to give wine tastings onsite.
Nestled amid the Polperro Estate’s Talland Hill vineyard, Polperro Villas is a series of four luxury apartments which are ideal for quiet, intimate getaways – one even comes with a private sauna. Polperro is a gem within the collection of Mornington Peninsula wineries, specialising in two different labels: its eponymous label and the more recently established Even Keel, with both focusing on organic and biodynamic wine practices. Wine connoisseurs can choose from three different tasting experiences before heading for dinner at the Vineyard Dining restaurant, which offers main dishes like Flinders Island lamb served with a molasses jus, and burnt white chocolate with estate-grown apples for dessert. Larger groups can also opt to rent out Polperro’s entire 1950s-style farmhouse – perfect for special occasions.