Victoria's Yarra Valley is a world-class wine region, famous for its cool-climate chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon - and its quality restaurants serving excellent food (often with a view) to eat with it.
Here are five of the best winery restaurants, as featured in the Good Food Guide 2020.
Ezard at Levantine Hill is a high-end winery restaurant in Coldstream. Photo: Earl Carter
Ezard at Levantine Hill
Come here for: Lavish dining in a winery with superb views
A Lamborghini, a Maserati and a helicopter pull up to a winery. No, this isn't the start of the world's most bougie joke. It's lunch at chef Teage Ezard's hatted restaurant at Levantine Hill. Away from the buzz of the all-day bistro, guests are here for the five- or eight-course degustation menus. Elegant dishes are whisked to tables by waiters in starched white shirts. On a plate that somewhat resembles a volcanic crater, thin strips of cuttlefish, oyster mushrooms and Japanese kelp bathe in an umami-rich broth peppered with sea herbs. Other dishes include sweet and crisp pork belly, cleverly juxtaposed with the bitterness of charred witlof and thick, burnt apple jam. For the ultimate luxury experience, sign up for the helicopter transfer.
882 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream 03 5962 1333 levantinehill.com.au
The always buzzing Innocent Bystander dining room Photo: Supplied
Come here for: A buzzing cellar door and restaurant with delicious food and wine.
You only have to pop your head in here on a Friday night to see the young families, couples and giggling groups of 30-somethings coexisting harmoniously in the cavernous space occupied by this Healesville winery and eatery. The wine, unsurprisingly, is the focal point of the menu. There are eight on tap, including a very amable tempranillo and a robust pinot noir that's made from grapes plucked from nearby vineyards in the Yarra Valley. Wood-fired pizzas are the star of the menu, accompanied by a worthy supporting act of meat, cheese and vegetable antipasti boards and smaller sharing plates. The takeaway deal is great value at $60 for two pizza and a bottle of wine.
314-334 Maroondah Highway, Healesville 03 5999 9222 innocentbystander.com.au
Matt Stone and Jo Barrett are cooking up a storm at Oakridge. Photo: Supplied
Come here for: Innovative dishes, delicious wines and incredible views
Hatted Oakridge is the worthy benchmark for winery restaurants in the Yarra Valley. Pull up a spot at the long, view-spoilt bar set for drinking single-block chardonnay and, further through, a white and blondwood dining area where staff emerge from hidden doors. And it's behind those doors that this winery's singularity unfolds. When it comes to their cooking, chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone do what should have been done decades ago when Indigenous ingredients first started appearing on fine dining menus. There are pea-sized native apples adding caperberry sharpness to a burnished kangaroo loin, with a pithivier of potato and garnished with crisp saltbush leaves, and that's just the start of it. A culinary jewel of regional Victoria.
864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. 03 9738 9900 oakridgewines.com.au
The TarraWarra Estate cellar door. Photo: John Gollings
Come here for: An adventurous playground for wine, food and art-lovers
The cellar door of this Yarra Valley estate is jammed with couples and girls' weekend gatherings trying to bottles on pour. Next door, within the rammed earth walls of the restaurant, these same vintages are laid on for diners at barely marked up prices. This lays an excellent foundation for lunch, overseen by Mark Ebbels. The chef grew up on a vegetable farm and has a quarter-acre garden to plunder, and he does so confiendly and frequently. Slippery oyster mushrooms are showered with shaved truffle, paddling in a chardonnay-spiked cashew butter. Warm and engaged staff might teer you toward a mandarin parfait topped with white chocolate and rosemary spikes. It's a calm, understated space that does nothing to fight with the grandeur of vines dropping away to the vast swathe of the Valley.
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen 03 5957 3510 tarrawarra.com.au
The Yering Station sculpture pond. Photo: Supplied
Come here for: Contemporary cooking showcasing a range of wines in modern surrounds.
One of the first wineries to combine brilliant contemporary architecture with designed gardens and a purpose-built restaurants, Yering Station's huge windows look out toward the blue hills of Healesville and on to the flats where cattle graze. The mood is informal, but smart, and the food a showcase for the estate's wines. Think of a dome of rich duck liver pate, served with smoked pear relish and crostini, lightly decorated with leaves and flowers, as good with chardonnay as with pinot noir. The lamb fillet comes with lack vinegar jam and baked winter vegetables (more!). Plays of texture are a signature even in the dessert, where soft, creamy passionfruit mousse meets densely creamy choclate and a crunchy chocolate biscuit. Lunch comes with a voucher for a free wine tasting and a 10 per cent discount at the cellar door.
38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen 03 9730 0100 yering.com
The Good Food Guide 2020 is available now from newsagencies and bookstores, and via thestore.com.au/gfg20, $29.99 with free shipping.