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A Bacchanalian Holiday in Yarra Valley, Melbourne

A cult to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, has apparently grown in Australia. During a holiday in Melbourne, make a stop at Yarra Valley, a place of absolute beauty with its mountain ranges and endless vineyards, where wining and dining is almost a religion.

Yarra Valley offers loads of wine to taste and wineries to tour. Balgownie Estate is where local legend Stuart Anderson cultivated his award-winning selection, which includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. It also has a museum, a spa, and walking trails through the greenery. Boat O’ Craigo may have its roots in Scotland, but its reds and whites could have only been grown in Yarra Valley’s volcanic soil and cool climes respectively. For a rare sampling of Australia’s premier sweet white, Noble One Botrytis Semillon, visit De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant, whose products have won numerous awards. Make a detour to the Cheese Room for “perfectly matured” Brie, Grana, or Parmigiano.

For gorgeous views of undulating hills and lush foliage, Elmswood Estate is a good choice, a truly awe-inspiring sight. Have a glass of its prized Merlot, Rose, or Methode Champenoise with regional gourmet pies and quiches. Oakridge Winery Café has been called “one of the must-see and must-taste estates in the region” by wine connoisseur Ralph Kyte-Powell.

Beyond the guaranteed gastronomic bliss, Yarra Valley offers such varied activities as ballooning at sunrise, bird-watching, and museum-hopping. At Katandra Gardens, which means “Song of Birds,” there are around 75 avian species, as well Australian plants such as the leafy eucalyptus shrub, the delicate lechenaultia flower, and the spiny acacia tree. Head to a bushland in Healesville Sanctuary Wildlife Park to see Australia’s unique creatures, such as the kangaroo, dingo, and platypus. There are a lot of national parks to choose from too, like the one in Dandenong Ranges where families can picnic, hike, or drive through the range. The weekend markets are attractions themselves, where visitors can take home fresh produce.

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