The Yarra Valley is the ultimate Victorian wine destination. And the good news is that many of the regions’ vineyards are child-friendly.
The fertile valley, less than an hour from Melbourne, is Victoria’s oldest wine producing region.
The first vines were planted here in 1838 but production ceased in 1921 as Australia developed a taste for fortified wines.The vineyards were converted to pasture until 1963 when the Wantirna Estate brought grapes back to the region.
And we’re so glad they did. The Yarra Valley now produces some of the best wines in Australia.
“Today the region is generally known for producing some of Australia’s best examples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” Yarra Valley wines Dean Jenkin says.
“However. the regions’ reputation was established by its elegant Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends using some or all of the five dominant red Bordeaux varieties with the best of these wines still ranking amongst the finest in Australia.”
Yarra Valley sparkling wines are also outstanding, Dean says. This is the region where French Champagne giant Moët & Chandon established their Australian base, Domaine Chandon, at a site in Coldstream in 1986.
The Yarra Valley has an abundance of wine-making talent and dozens of cellar door experiences from the larger estates such as Domaine Chandon, Yering Station and Giant Steps through to the smaller family vineyards such as Five Oaks Vineyard, Payne’s Rise and Seville Hill.
Dean says the smaller winemakers offer a personal experience: “the person pouring your wine is most likely the property owner or winemaker or both.”
Apart from fantastic wine, many vineyards in the Yarra are also great fun for kids – so a wine tour can be a win-win for families.
Here’s Dean’s pick of the best five child-friendly wineries in the Yarra Valley.
Paynes Rise is a great Yarra Valley winery for kids that is off the beaten track. Paynes has a variety of large outdoor spaces with panoramic views of the Yarra Valley so the kids can run around. Kids games are scattered through the property to keep them entertained. A casual, relaxed cellar door and adjoining indoor dining area provide space and an escape from elements if visiting during the cooler months. Dean recommends visiting in the warmer months to take full advantage of this beautiful old property.
Tarrawarra Estate is a destination winery of the Yarra Valley. The Tarrawarra Museum adjoins the cellar door, restaurant and shaded outdoor dining area. Expect picture-perfect rural and valley views. Tarrawarra Estate has regular art activities for kids during the school holidays and you will find loads of open space for the kids to play including hills for them to roll down.
St Huberts relaunched its cellar door in 2022 and families can now visit (and taste) seven days a week. If you’re visiting around lunch, Quarters, the on-site restaurant serves wood-fired pizza, pasta and a range of other modern Australian and European-inspired dishes. There’s plenty of space for the kids to play on the grass while the grown ups linger longer and enjoy the wine, food and views.
De Bortoli Wines
De Bortoli Wines is always a favourite with families visiting the Yarra Valley. A playground is provided for the kids set against panoramic views of rolling Vineyards leading off to Mount Dandenong in the distance.
The vineyard has huge amount of grassed space for the kids to run around. Set up a picnic or take advantage of the undercover picnic tables provided which are a few meters from the playground so you can keep an eye on the kids at all times. Provided you buy wine from the Cellar Door, BYO food is allowed. But we highly recommend buying one of De Bortoli’s delicious cheeseboards matched to your wine.
Five Oaks Vineyard
Five Oaks is a real hidden gem in the Yarra Valley for those wishing to escape the crowds. Owners Wally and Judy Zuk, provide kids toys in the cellar door so the adults can enjoy tasting their way through their extensive lineup of top-notch Yarra Valley Cabernet and Riesling. Wally and Judy are also kind enough to set up picnic tables and chairs on site so you can relax and enjoy a bottle or two of the wine you purchase from their cellar door with your BYO food. The large flat grass area is set in the old vineyards with beautiful rural views and shade from huge old Oak Tree, hence the name Five Oaks Vineyard. This is truely a magic place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Other family friendly places in the Yarra Valley include:
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.