09 November, 2011

Country Towns 3: Healesville and Yarra Valley Vineyards

Our good friends Doreen and Peter suggested that they spend a few days with Patsy and I  in either the wine region of the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley. It was with great pleasure that I accepted the task of organizing our mini-springtime tour.

Having visited Healesville in July of this year, we decided to visit some vineyards in the Yarra Valley region.

The Healesville area provides for a wide selection of accommodation. We selected Cumquat Cottage,  a two story dwelling of which the web-site photos and comments of past visitors indicated that we would be guaranteed a pleasant and comfortable stay.

Two tourist brochures and Google were ideal resources for deciding on the vineyards to be visited on a Thursday and Friday. Six wineries were selected: De Bortoli; Tarrawarra Estate; Yarrawood; Medhurst; Balgownie Estate; and Shantell. The decision for where to have lunch was made by our friends, who, after reading the six lunch menus selected  Shantell and De Bortoli. Patsy and I will visit the other wineries on another occasion.

Yarrawood was the the first winery we visited on a sunny Thursday. After tasting a range of wines, and Doreen‘s purchase of a case of wine, we drove to the impressive De Bortoli winery to enjoy a platter of cheese with our tasting of wine. The man selling the cheese was both informative and entertaining. Shantell was where we had lunch in a room which looked out on the vineyard, thus providing us with picturesque scenery that supplemented our enjoyment of  wine and food. Unfortunately, Peter didn’t quite enjoy his meal to the same extent as the rest of us. Perhaps if there had been a bit of fat on the lamb (Peter just loves those barbeque chops with the fat) plus an ice-pick for the dessert then Peter would have given his meal a higher rating!

Friday welcomed us with cooler weather, an overcast sky, and light rain. Our first visit was the Tarrawarra Estate which is not far from Healesville.  On a small hill overlooking the vineyard is a tall arc-shaped sandy coloured wall behind which can be found a combined restaurant and wine tasting room which is adjacent to a Museum of Art. After the wine tasting Peter suggested that we not proceed to the De Bortoli restaurant, but that we dine instead at the Tarrawara restaurant. We readily agreed as we liked the ambiance of the restaurant, and we had been advised as to appropriate match between the varieties of food and the wine we had tasted. What followed was a magnificent meal interspersed with lots of laughter. After lunch we entered the Museum of Art. On display were paintings by William Delafield Cliff and an exhibition of photographic portraits by Jacqueline Mitelman. At the end of the gallery is a large window from which we looked out onto  a view of the vineyard in the foreground and as our eyes took us along the valley to the hills in the background we admired the many different shades of green trees, bushes and paddocks, and the light grey mist which had settled gently on the ridges of the hills.

For an appreciation of the paintings and photographic portraits that the reader is invited to visit:

Other features of our holiday were watching a few of Cumquat Cottage’s large collection of quality DVDs, feeding the colourful parrots and cockatoos, and enjoying pre-dinner nibbles and wine. A morning visit to the Healesville shopping centre allowed Patsy and Doreen to shop for garments in the an opportunity shop while Peter and I enjoyed a coffee. I noted with interest  that one opportunity shop contains a wall of book shelves which extend from the front to the back of the shop. This impressive range of books would suit all kinds of readers. I walked away with two of Ruth Rendell’s crime stories. 

What no photo!

There was a collage of photos which summed up very nicely our stay at Cumquat Cottage and our long-term friendship. I was rather annoyed that a glitch in the computer system deleted the collage and several photos on my blog. For a replacement, I inserted a photo taken a year later when Patricia and I attended the celebration of Doreen and Peter's 50th wedding anniversary.

Click on photo for larger version

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