Whenever I go to the Yarra Valley, it feels like I’m meeting up with the Mornington Peninsula’s grown-up brother.  The vineyards always seem that bit bigger, the cellar doors that bit more impressive and the business of wine making is taken more seriously.

I recently visited two of the best – De Bortoli and Yering Sation – both excellent producers of great wines.  It is interesting to compare their attitude to the tasting fee.  Generally I’m in favour of a tasting fee at around $5.  It means there is no obligation to buy if you really don’t like what’s on offer, and it does help the winemaker recoup some of the cost of opening the cellar door.  At De Bortoli you have to pay your $5 up front – you don’t even get to start unless you hand over the cash.  At Yering Station they don’t even have a tasting fee.

I can understand why De Bortoli have that policy – the day I visited there was a coach load in the cellar door and more than a few were “tired and emotional”.  I don’t think there was a lot of tasting going on per se – at least nobody did the Sideways spittoon trick.

Both have good restaurants, although Yering wins the architecture competition.  The restaurant and winery are housed in a very impressive building with great views over a green valley.  The Yering cellar door is an older building – one large room with a square central bar and original art around the walls.  It has a great feel to it, and the day we visited there were there some really knowledgeable staff on hand.

At Yering we ended up buying some excellent silky Shiraz, at De Bortoli it was Chardonnay. De Bortoli has thirty different wine labels – not all available at the cellar door, but it gives you a feel for the size of the enterprise.   For both vineyards the 2011 Pinot Noir is to be avoided – taste before you buy.  The Yarra Valley had similar problems to the peninsula.

So two excellent cellar doors – both really worth a visit.