Okay, that’s a cheese ball title. But Australian wine seriously doesn’t get enough credit in the US. If you are in Melbourne, you’ve got to head to the hills (quite literally) to the Yarra Valley region, one of Australia’s best wine regions. Although this area was ravaged by the Black Saturday fires in 2009, the wineries are open and are eager to rebuild. (The fires, sadly, killed 173 people and destroyed over 2000 homes; if you are interested in donating to help the rebuilding, visit the Victoria Bushfire Reconstruction Agency.)
That said, one of the best ways to help the region is to visit and/or to purchase their lovely vintages. One of our favorites was Boat O’Craigo, where we also spotted our first Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo of the trip.
Further up the road, we stumbled upon the small, but very sweet Yileena Park Winery. This boutique winery was nearly destroyed during the 2009 fires, but miraculously survived (one of the owners told us the story of the fires while we watched the sunset over the hills and the kangaroos came out to feed). Yileena Park is a family-owned boutique estate and a much-welcome stop on the Yarra Valley wine tour (much more quaint than the larger tourist-trap wineries like Domaine Chandon).