Forget the education state, if Victoria needs a claim to fame it should be ‘the winery state’. Victoria has the most number of wine producers of any state or territory, with over 800 wine producers and 600 cellar doors. The spread of regions is vast too, from Macedon - one of the coldest wine regions in Australia - to the warmth of the Murray Darling, covering sparkling country right through to ground zero for Australia’s best fortifieds in Rutherglen.

The challenge with Victoria then is about an embarrassment of riches, with most of the state’s wine regions all within an easy drive of Melbourne, if you’re looking for an excuse to visit. There are so many important regions too, which makes picking favourites hard.

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Yarra Valley

If you had to pick just one premier Victorian wine region to focus upon, then it is probably going to be the Yarra Valley. Although at risk of being swallowed up by the edge of Melbourne suburbia, ‘the Yarra’ as it is locally known, both sits at most Melburnians doorstep and yet retains a strong personality and sense of place.

While parts of the Yarra Valley floor are warm enough to ripen Shiraz or even Tempranillo, the Yarra is very much a cool climate region focused upon cool climate styles - like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot important historical players.

There is a strong culture of experimentation within the Yarra Valley, helped along by a gaggle of Melbourne sommeliers, restauranteurs dipping their toes in the winemaking world. You can easily commute from the Yarra into ‘town’ each day too, which only helps drive opportunity - in fact the renaissance of the Yarra in the 60s and 70s was driven by Melbourne doctors looking for a vine change.

Crisp-yet-powerful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir remain the most important grapes in the Yarra, especially in the chilly reaches of the Upper Yarra. In recent years the warmer, lower parts of the Valley have also seen an influx of grapes like Gamay and more Shiraz, with climate change making the Yarra that little bit more hospitable for later ripening grapes.

That diversity makes the Yarra a genuinely exciting place to make wine with nearly anything possible.

Our favourite producers to look out for: Giant Steps, Mandala, Oakridge, De Bortoli, Yarra Yering.

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Mornington Peninsula

Occupying the eastern end of Port Phillip Bay, the windswept, beautiful Mornington Peninsula remains as the high rollers Victorian wine region of choice, with Melbourne millionaires investing their fortunes here on immaculate vineyards, designer cellar doors and some of the best winery restaurants in the country.

But don’t be fooled, the Peninsula is a deadly serious wine region, with an unwavering focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, making beautifully expressive wines that are amongst the nation’s finest.

The highest point of the Peninsula - centred around the town of Red Hill - is home to some of the most famous estates, but ‘down the hill’ on the Western Port Bay is where you’ll find truly fine wines too.

Long ago Mornington Peninsula was known for (typically average) Cabernet Sauvignon, but these days the push is to ever more finessed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with single vineyard, single block and even single clone wines witnessing the pursuit for perfection.

Perhaps the only challenge with this quest is that value is a relative concept on the Peninsula, with the best wines highly sought after by well-heeled Melburnians.

The beauty and lusciousness of the red-fruited regional Pinot Noir style and the nutty richness of the local Chardonnay, however, makes you understand why the wines are so well-loved.

Our favourite producers to look out for: Ten Minutes By Tractor, Stonier, Montalto, Red Hill Estate, Yabby Lake, Eldridge.

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King Valley

There is a whole host of interesting wine regions in Victoria’s north east that are worth your attention, with Beechworth and the Alpine Valleys unquestionably interesting. The King Valley, however, has one of the most unique personalities of any Victorian region.

Historically, the King Valley was known as tobacco country, with a cadre of Italian and Greek migrants moving here after working on the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the 50s to grow crops. Vineyards naturally followed and eventually, grapes won out over tobacco.

While traditional French grapes were originally planted here, more recently the push has been to focus on Italian grapes with spectacular results. The King Valley is now home to Australia’s best Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Pinot Gris and more, not to mention the centre of the nation’s Prosecco production.

In fact, you’ll now find a ‘Prosecco Road’ here that maps out all the producers crafting premium Prosecco, helped along by a climate that is well suited to vibrant Prosecco wines.

Many of the King Valley’s most famous producers produce a bewildering number of wines, spanning an impressive collection of grapes - and not just perky Italians. You can find everything from Picolit to full bodied Shiraz, all in one strip of vines.

Our favourite producers to look out for: Pizzini, Brown Brothers, Dal Zotto, Chrismont