Five Wineries to Visit with Your Dog This Autumn in Regional Victoria
Sip pinots with your pup among the vines.
March 21, 2019
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The leaves are changing colour, the days are fresher and a whole lot of autumn winery hopping awaits. But why should humans have all the fun? This season's weekend adventures are best enjoyed with your pooch by your side, and there are stacks of great Victorian wineries happy to oblige with big open spaces and pats aplenty. Get set for day trips filled with wine quaffing and puppy cuddles; here, we bring you our pick of the state's top dog-friendly wineries.
ROCHFORD WINES, YARRA VALLEY
Arguably one of the Yarra Valley's best-known wineries, Rochford boasts a stunning lakeside cellar door and eatery. Here, the rolling green expanse of the property is pretty much heaven for roaming pups, while humans will find plenty to love dining al fresco at Isabella's Restaurant. From now until April 5th, as the harvest takes place, you can go on a guided tour of the vineyard, sampling the as-of-yet unharvested grapes straight from the vines or head straight to final produce at the cellar door where you can sample the vintages before settling on your take-home bottle or, for a more relaxed experience, set yourself up with a tasting flight at the restaurant. Opt for some charcuterie including nduja, fennel and garlic salami or the terrine with rhubarb jam to pair, or if hunger has truly set in, go for one of the medium, large or 'enormous' dishes, each offered with the sommelier's wine recommendation. What's suggested? Can you really go past a 16-hour oyster blade of beef with the 2017 single vineyard 'Garrigue' Heathcote syrah or the saffron and orange-glazed chicken with the 2017 single vineyard 'Dans les Bois' chardonnay — both of which we're sure your pooch will enjoy a scrap or two from.
STEELS GATE, YARRA RANGES
For a nice slice of Yarra Ranges scenery, matched with some top-notch local food and wine, you and your pup will find it hard to beat a visit out to Steels Gate Wines. One of two sibling vineyards, this spot is home to the winery's picturesque cellar door and restaurant. Here, you can sample acclaimed chardonnays, alongside dishes built around produce fresh from the garden. The dog-friendly deck is the perfect location to soak up some of that autumn sunshine while tucking into housemade pâté with shiraz and onion jam, local cured meats and breads or slow-cooked chicken ballotine with lemon and thyme risotto cake and garden greens (available Friday–Sunday). Alternatively, you can grab one of the winery's picnic blankets and a grazing platter for an alfresco session with your pooch on the sprawling green lawn.
CANNIBAL CREEK, GIPPSLAND
With its rolling green outlook, this Gippsland winery proves the ideal pit-stop for a lazy autumn sipping session, especially if you've got a furry friend in tow. Grab a primo position on the sunny deck, order one of the many award-winning wines (including the blanc de blanc, sav blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, cab merlot and cab sav) and dig into the restaurant's menu made for sharing. Enjoy a cheese board while overlooking the neat rows of vines with your pup by your side (most likely looking longingly at those fine slices of camembert). And when lunchtime's over, head out to explore the vines up close — well-behaved canines are free to explore the surrounding lawns off-leash.
BULLER WINES, RUTHERGLEN
Boasting plenty of sprawling open spaces and a restaurant with views across the vines, Buller Wines' lush, green Rutherglen vineyard is as much a hit with four-legged visitors as it is with their humans. Pooches may be allowed to mosey around inside the cellar door area on quieter days, though the sights and smells of the big outdoor lawns are sure to prove even more tempting for inquisitive pups. The spacious deck is another great spot for settling in over a few of Buller's hit vinous creations, with water bowls always on hand for furry visitors. Order a glass of chardonnay, shiraz or durif from the Calliope range, which is made in limited quantities from 100-year-old vines, and settle in for a relaxing afternoon with your best friend.
DAL ZOTTO, KING VALLEY
Known as one of Australia's prosecco pioneers, the King Valley's Dal Zotto Wines is a full family-run affair spanning the generations. First opened by Otto and Elena Dal Zotto in 1987, the winery and attached trattoria are now run by the second generation of Dal Zottos. Focused on Italian grape varietals, the winery has a distinctly European feel, with the trattoria dishing up fresh pasta and Italian classics crafted from fresh ingredients grown in the kitchen garden, maintained by Nonna Elena. Dogs are welcome to make themselves at home in the sunny outdoor spaces, so nab a table on the lawn and settle in for a wine-matched pizza feast, while your pup explores. Oh, and this winery was the first to make prosecco, so make sure you enjoy at least one of the several bubbly options available.
For more autumnal places, spaces and events in regional Victoria, visit Your Happy Space.
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