Macedon Ranges – Finally!

It was such a delight to host a classy tour to the Macedon Ranges –  after a 2 years! The long absence  was not of my choosing. due to our Covid restrictions it has been difficult to conduct tours to this wonderful region.

Botanica Tasting – Macedon Ranges
Inside the rustic tasting room at Paramoor Winery

It is well worth pointing out –  that this is the coolest grape growing region on the Australian mainland. This is due the very high altitude ( 500 – 600 metres), and the the continental inland location.

After collecting the ladies in St Kilda, we headed to our first cool climate destination – Paramoor Winery. With a wood heater cranked well up – the tasting was cosy and expansive.


It was exciting to visit a new cellar door for Perfect Day Tours – Botanica Estate Vineyard.

In the delightful gardens at Botanica Estate Vineyard

The ladies enjoyed a seated tasting of excellent wines, before exploring the delightful gardens on the Estate.

The newly extended tasting area / cellar door at Hesket Estate.

With panoramic views of Hanging Rock and the Macedon Ranges,the ladies enjoyed  a delicious 2 course lunch at the stunning Wine Collective –   Macedon Wine Room.

We then headed to one of my favorite destinations in the Macedon Ranges – Hesket Estate. Due to their increasing popularity, Hesket have extended their tasting area. there is now much more room inside the cellar door. Very important when you are in Romsey – the coolest climate on the Australian mainland.

The ladies enjoyed a relaxed tasting at Hesket before we jumped back on the bus for our return to Melbourne.

As the 2013 Hesket Estate Pinot Noir was on a super special – I could not help myself from buying a 6 pack. Having enjoyed one of the bottles already – I made a very good decision.

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Mornington Peninsula in Autumn

What a treat it was to host a wonderful group of 8 on a recent Mornington Peninsula tour.

It is hard to beat the cooler months for wine tastings.

In the charming gardens at Merricks Creek Wines.

One of the hidden gems for me is Merricks Creek, in Merricks. Owners Georgina and Peter are either pouring wine, or available for a chat. Such a lovely setting for a tasting of beautiful Mornington Peninsula wines.  No less than 3 Pinot Noirs in the stable, as well as an impressive range of others.

The Merricks Creek Shiraz and ‘Dry Red’ are unique in their style. Well worth a taste.

As some of the group were on holiday from Sydney, they delighted in the cooler climate wines that are not quite so prevalent in the Hunter Valley region.


Eldridge Estate. The Gamay is one of the best in Australia.

Eldridge Estate has long been a hallmark of quality wines on the Mornington Peninsula. Excellent Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and a distinctive Gamay were tasted and enjoyed. Cases of wine from Merricks Creek Wines and Eldridge Estate were shipped back to Sydney for future delight.

See you soon on your Perfect Day Tour.

A barrel of fun at Eldridge Estate.


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Birthday Celebrations – Yarra Valley

I was delighted to host a 70th Birthday Celebration Tour on the 10th of April. The day was made even more special due to 3 generations being involved. The ages ranged from 18 to 70.

The ‘Birthday Girl’ had  quite a revelation on the day, she discovered a liking for Pinot Noir! It just goes to show,  that whatever our age, we can always learn more. And have lots of fun along the way.

After picking up the ladies in Yea, North of the Yarra Valley, we set off on our adventure.

Our first tasting was at Helen’s Hill Estate . Commencing the wide ranging tasting with 2 lovely sparkling wines was just the thing to get the celebrations underway. Judging by the amount of wine purchased, the ladies enjoyed the wines and experience at Helen’s Hill.

One of the tempting desserts – chocolate mousse, orange jelly & coconut crumb.Steels Gate.

A delicious 2 course lunch at Steels Gate soon turned into 3 courses. The delicious appearance of the desserts passing by was too strong to resist.

No regrets!

The lunch package boasts a wine tasting, your choice of  – 1,2, 0r 3 course lunch, and glass of wine of your choice. Mmm. Tasty.

Having enjoyed the wines and food so much – they once again purchased lot’s of wine. Happy days.

Finally, a memorable tasting at Greenstone Vineyards – where –  you guessed it, the happy ladies purchased an impressive array of vino.

We love hosting special occasions for our happy customers. Visit the PDT website or call Steve on 0422 401 051 to book  YOUR  Perfect Day Tour.
Don’t you deserve a Perfect Day Tour?



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Yarra Yering – Yarra Valley

As folk lore would have it, Yarra Yering was one of a handful of vineyards instrumental in re establishing the Yarra Valley’s reputation for premium wine. The late Dr. Bailey Carrodus established Yarra Yering in 1969.

Due to being ‘dry grown’, and great attention to detail in the vineyards, the vines are very low yielding. This leads to intense, flavourful grapes. Happily, this equates to delicious wines, continuing to develop over many years.

Now in the talented hands of Sarah Crowe as chief winemaker, the wines are as exceptional as they have ever been.  Sarah was justly awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in the 2017 James Halliday’s Wine Companion.

In mid March 2021, I was delighted to finally attend a tasting at Yarra Yering.  As a starting point, I selected the ‘Current Release – Classic’  tasting flight. I look forward to returning soon. The next tasting on my wish list is the ‘Carrodus’ Range. I will keep you posted.



I enjoyed the concise manner in which the wines were presented on the tasting mat. This made it easy to compare differences between the wines on re-tasting.

Although all of the wines in the bracket were drop dead gorgeous, I will focus here on the 2 Shiraz based wines.


Underhill Shiraz – 2018

Planted at the western end of the vineyard to attract maximum afternoon sun. A whisper of aniseed, plum and blackberry.

Well judged whole bunch fermentation adds aromatics and texture. Just 25% new French oak allows the pristine fruit to express it’s authentic character.

The fine grained tannins need time yet to integrate. As the wine matures, we may well see cured meats / charcuterie becoming more evident. Lets share a bottle in 10 years.


Dry Red No 2 – 2018

A classical cool climate Shiraz / Syrah style.  Paying homage to it’s spiritual home of the Rhone Valley.

95% Shiraz. The balance is a blend of other Rhone varietals –  Mataro, Viognier, and Marsanne.

Already complex due to additional varieties, this wine is layered and intriguing. The texture is already pleasing, perhaps due to some stalks being added back to the ferment, adding structure and aroma.

This is a wine that engages all senses. Due to the complexity and balance, the wine is already delicious. However I would be delighted to share a bottle in 5 to 10 years.

Yarra Yering are now taking groups of up to 6 on a Perfect Day Tour.

Don’t you deserve a Perfect Day Tour?





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Dominique Portet – Yarra Valley

A great tasting with Dominique Portet (on the right) in the  new tasting room overlooking the winery.

I was delighted to finally meet one of the great Australian winemakers – who also happens to be French. Dominique Portet has a long established reputation as the founder and original winemaker at Taltarni in the Pyrenees region of Victoria. Dominique’s son Ben has now taken the reins at D.P.  Dominque was a ninth generation winemaker – that makes Ben no 10!

This reinforces the fact that these guys really know how to make great wine!

A delicious Charcuterie platter with a small glass of 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon.



Standout whites for me from the tasting would be the  2015 Sparkling blanc de blanc, and  2018 Origine Chardonnay.

The blanc de blanc (100% Chardonnay), is crisp and dry.Fruit is sourced from the cool Upper Yarra. 3 years on yeast lees has added complexity.

The pick of the reds were the 2018 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and 2018 Yarra Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet has the classic hallmark of impressive length. Fine grained Yarra Valley tannins on the finis.

Dominique’s grandfather was the winemaker at the famous Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux. Subsequently, Dominique and Ben know a thing or two about great Cabernet Sauvignon.

Now focusing on smaller groups – we love taking our happy customers to Domique Portet.

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Autumn in the Yarra Valley

Many people don’t realize this. Autumn is the best time of the year to be out amongst the vines.

Perfectly Ripening Pinot Noir. The deciduous colours of the leaves heralding Autumn. Greenstone Vineyards – Yarra Valley.
A deciduous display in the Tuscan style Courtyard at Meletos – ‘The Stables’ – Yarra Valley.


Between the months of March and May, the autumnal display of the vines can be breathtaking.  The deciduous leaves start to change colour – known as senescence. During this season, you will delight in the spectacular hues of the vines, as they splash across the rolling hills.

With crisp, misty mornings, autumn is the perfect time to visit the cellar doors in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. Stunning displays will also be found in the Macedon Ranges and on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Charcuterie platter at Warramunda Estate – Yarra Valley. Washed down with the delicious Warramunda Estate Pinot Noir – 2017.

As the daylight softens, and the temperature cools – the red wines taste even better!


There are still some Perfect Day Tours available for Autumn. Hope to see you soon!


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Well, this is my 16th day of no alcohol. Or alcohol free – whichever you prefer.

I think I am going pretty well.

I must confess however, I did open a bottle of white wine last night. My wife glanced at the opened bottle on the bench top and inquired “Have you opened a bottle of wine?”

I was happy to put her mind at rest, as I will yours, dear reader.

Chicken stock. I was making a batch. My home made recipe calls for about 1/3 rd of a bottle of an unoaked white. I usually use a semillon  – sauv blanc blend. Riesling works well too.

As I was making Moroccan pumpkin soup today – I needed another cup for that as well.

And with the left over – I added a little chicken stock to the bottle – just to make it unpalatable, should I be overcome in a moment of weakness.

I have been really enjoying black coffee, as well as experimenting with wild and wacky Kombucha flavours. I generally mix the Kombucha with about half soda stream. It tastes pleasant enough, and keeps the cost down. (Some Kombuchas can be just as expensive as wine!)

Sometimes a splash of bitters – I use Angostura – adds a bit more aroma and complexity and colour to the drink.

Febfast Fundraising

Thank you to everyone who has donated the the charity I am supporting. Even the anonymous ones (You know who you are!)

My fund raising page is here.

We are raising money for young people with drug and alcohol problems – so it is a worthy cause, and helps to keep my motivated – and on the straight and narrow.

A big thanks to my wife (you know who you are), as she has joined my on my dry journey. It is a lot easier when neither of us is drinking.

Until next week – from High on the Wagon,



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As some may be aware, I have pledged to support Febfast for the month of February. This simply means that I am abstaining from alcohol for the month of February.

The great motivator for this worthy cause is to raise money to help young people with drug and alcohol problems.

What’s wrong with this photo? That’s right – No Booze!


I am pleased to let you know that just 1 week in, and we have raised $245. Our goal for the month was $300, so all being well, we will exceed that amount.

Many thanks to all of you who have donated so far. It has certainly helped to keep me motivated – and sober!

Please find the link below if you have a few spare dollars to donate to this great cause.




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Last Wine Before Febfast – Better Make it a Good One!

This year, I have decided to take the plunge, and sign up to Febfast. This means that for the month of February 2021, I am abstaining from alcohol.

Febfast raises funds to help and support young people who are experiencing drug and alcohol problems. This is a great incentive to stick to my plan for the entire month.

If you are interested in making a small donation to the cause, here is the link

Anyway, as a fitting farewell to my wine drinking for the month, I decided to dig deep, and pull out a bottle of Birks Wendouree Shiraz – 1990.

This classic wine from the Clare Valley is now 31 years old. It was a delight to enjoy such an iconic wine, that I have been lovingly cellaring for all of those years.

Being such an old wine, the cork had become quite soft. This made it difficult to extract from the bottle, and broke down whilst I was trying to remove it. With remnants of cork now in the bottle, I therefore needed to strain the wine  through a tea strainer and paper towel filter. Not ideal for keeping oxygen away from the delicate and aged shiraz.


Birks Wendouree Shiraz 1990 – Clare Valley

Mid – deep red with an autumnal hue. No loss of colour or browning on the edge.

Complex aromas of violet, earth, cooked and cured meats and red baking spices. No signs of oxidation, cork taint or brett!

Seamless medium bodied palate. A subtle “hello” from ripe red to dark fruits. Softness and glycerol texture coats the mouth. Beautiful silky texture.

The aromatics continue to lift from the glass, giving much pleasure to the drinking experience.

Delicious with simple roast lamb, pesto gravy and home grown veggies.

As older wines are somewhat fragile, they often fade within a few hours of being opened. Because of the difficulty in extracting the cork, this wine was exposed to more air than I would have liked. Therefore, this lovely old wine started to oxidize after about 1 1/2 hours of being open.

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Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021 – Looking Good!

I noticed a few photos on social media a fortnight ago of ripening Pinot Noir grapes in the Yarra Valley. I was delighted and surprised to take a few shots of beautifully ripening grapes at Greenstone Vineyards in Yarra Glen.

Pinot Noir – Greenstone Vineyards  Yarra Valley – 8th of January 2021

The above photo is from a Perfect Day Tour on the 8th of January. The Pinot Noir bunches were far more advanced than I had expected. They look healthy and delicious – with that classical ‘pine cone’ shape that gives the grape variety it’s name.

Greenstone Vineyards are located in Yarra Glen, which is often referred to as the valley floor. The low lying area of the valley floor region can be slightly warmer during the growing season than the Upper Yarra Valley.

I was fortunate to host another tour to Greenstone on 22nd of January. I was keen to find out how the ripening, also known as veraison, was progressing.

As you can see, this bunch has developed a uniform dark blue/ purple colour.

Most importantly, after a very cool ripening period, the grapes look happy and healthy. Yea! After the year that was 2020 – I think we all deserve some lovely Pinot Noir from the 2021 vintage!

Pinot Noir – Greenstone Vineyards Yarra Valley – 22nd of January 2021
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