How you going everyone?
Today we spent our first day in Melbourne partaking in a “Food, Wine and Wildlife” tour organized by VineTreker. I cannot say enough good about the entire experience, but more on that in a minute.
You will notice that I don’t have a lot of great pictures to share today, however, trust that they are forthcoming. We could only bring 15 lbs of luggage from Hobart to Melbourne, and my laptop was therefore not an option. I took lots of great pictures today on my real camera, so we’re just going to have to sit tight until I can put them on my laptop to share with you.
We ventured to a cafe for brekkie, and I had pancakes with bananas, honey and marscapone cheese. Cheese on pancakes you ask? Do it. It was like a thicker whipped cream, and so delicious! Not salty cheese-ish at all. But be warned. This combination is very rich, and more dessert-like than brekkie-like!
After brekkie, we met up with Stephen, who would be our tour guide to the Yarra Valley for the day. He immediately greeted us, got our names, and brought us to a very clean van capable of seating just 8. He then remembered our names for the rest of the day, and answered all our questions, making it a very personalized experience. In the past, I have run into situations where people don’t treat me quite the same, because I am young, and basically it’s like they act like you’re not going to tip them so they don’t try to give you good service. This was so not the case today! Even though the rest of the tour was older than us, and it was rather classy, we still felt like we belonged. If you have not experienced the student phenomenon to understand how rare this inclusivity is, just take my word for it!
We drove from Melbourne out to Healesville, to the Animal Santuary there. We got a volunteer keeper to a group of just four of us, whose name was Anne, who patiently took us around to each of the animals, and gave us some information on each one. After spending the morning with Anne, I could almost become a bird watcher, as she provided a lot of information on all of Victoria’s beautiful feathered friends. We even got to feed laurakeets! We also visited a wombat, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and dingos. Unfortunately the Tassie Devils weren’t out to play, but I am confident we will see them at a sanctuary back in Tassie.
From the sanctuary, we went to a vineyard called Yering Station. Apparently, wine making in the Yarra Valley was very popular around the gold rush of 1850-1890, however at the turn of the century the popularity and the prosperity of the area declined. By the early 1920s, the last vines were excavated from the area, and other things took over. Fast forward to the 1960s, and we are into the second winemaking boom of the area! Yering Station was founded on the same site as one of the original vineyards, and today is THE winery of the Yarra Valley. People fly out for lunch at the vineyard by helicopter, and they come from all over. The view was jaw dropping, as seen by an entire glass wall overlooking the valley. Lunch was an incredible array of gourmet options, each came with a suggested wine. I ended up having the duck (thinking of previous duck I had enjoyed at Mallard Cottage), paired with the Estate Pinor Noir. As we were waiting for our meal, we were treated to homemade sourdough, with truffle butter (real truffles, no oil here!). When my duck arrived, I was a little nervous about my meal decision, as it was an entire halved duck breast served medium. I put on my culinary adventure hat, with a deep breath, and ended up really liking it! The texture was incredible, similar to a med-well steak. The Pinot Noir had a gorgeous clear light bugundy colour to it, and was really fruity, rich and delicious. (Please refer to the website for a more extensive description if you’re interested).
After lunch we tasted a full range of wines, in the original first wine rush period building! There were two sparkling wines, one of which was a Cuvée, which had all sorts of summer fruit notes and was perfect for the 45 degree heat outside, which I ended up purchasing. We also tried a Shiraz, Cab Sauv and Pinot (from the $$$ reserve collection), followed by two dessert wines, one of which was an ice wine-cheat, which was amazing and citrusy. I would have bought it, but I really wasn’t sure when I would drink it (more wintery, or occassiony). I ended up also purchasing the Pinot, but not the bajillion $ one (saving that for when I’m a real pharmacist, lol).
From Yering Station, we went to a second vineyard called De Bortoli. Here we tried another sparkling Cuvée, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Rose, Pinot Noir, Cab Sauv, Single Vinyard Syrah, and two dessert wines, one of which was fortified with brandy (which we felt would pair well with dark fruitcake, lol). Each of these were paired with a fantastic French cheese, including something which started with Lait, and was like a Brie, but gentler in flavour. We really wanted to try the Pinot Gris, however there just wasn’t enough time today.