Just last month we visited Melbourne again and were invited to spend some time in Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa. Yes, this beautiful property in the heart of the Yarra Valley boasts a luxury resort with 69 superbly appointed contemporary guest suites and rooms. Additionally, there is an Events Centre with Executive Boardrooms, Rae’s Restaurant, Cellar Door, Natskin Spa Retreat and Health Club. So, whether it’s for business or leisure, Balgownie has all the facilities for you!
We arrived on a beautiful sunny spring late morning after driving for about 1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD. It’s such a pleasant drive along the quiet winding roads in the Yarra Valley, past pastures of grazing cows and gorgeous greens as spring’s in the air. Getting here was a breeze – just use whatever GPS you have. We used Maps on our iPhones with no problem at all. Checking-in took just a few minutes and we got our keys to our rooms just a hop and a skip away from the main reception.
We immediately fell in love with the plush comfortable sofas in the living room and the bedrooms are all very tastefully appointed -understated contemporary chic with comfort in mind. Our room has a floor-to-ceiling glass door revealing the gorgeous view of greenery beyond. A balcony outside the sitting room with table and chairs is the perfect spot to sip on a bottle (or two) of Balgownie wine, especially their renowned Cuvee Brut.
The Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa is just perfect to relax and rejuvenate – be as lazy or as active as you like. There’s the gym, tennis court, indoor heated pool, giant chess and the 1.6km walking trail to take care of energy bunnies. Otherwise just indulge in glasses of bubbles by the fire in Rae’s Restaurant or enjoy some pampering at Natskin Spa Retreat.
In our first visit to Rae’s Restaurant during the winery tour, we had a superb lunch there. Hence we were more than eager to check out their dinner during this stay. We were not disappointed. Rae’s offers 2 and 3-course dinners priced at AUD60 and AUD70 per person respectively. Portions are generous and even the most ravenous stomachs will be sufficiently satisfied with the 2-course option. We had no complaints with all our dishes – they were all well thought-out and faultlessly executed items. My favourite was the Beef Carpaccio – one of the best I’ve ever tasted!
Amuse bouche to start off the meal
Beef Carpaccio – soy marinated beef fillet with pickled daikon salad
Chicken & Pistachio Terrine – Cunliffe & Water’s relish with grilled sour dough
Seared Sea Scallops with black pudding, hollandaise sauce and pork crackle
Chicken Galantine – chicken, raisins & chorizo galantine with braised Du Puy lentils and confit shallots
Eye Fillet with potato fondant, Lyonnaise onions, saute’ed vegetables and Shiraz thyme jus
Grilled Seabass with fennel
Kangaroo Fillet with sweet potato puree and juniper berry jus
There are many vineyards in the Yarra Valley to visit. You can just easily drive up to their Cellar Doors and most of them do offer complimentary tastings while some will charge a nominal sum which will be knocked off if you buy wines from them.
We dropped by two other vineyards which are close by Balgownie. There’s Yarrawood which has a Cellar Door and Café offering wine tasting, meals, desserts and coffee. It’s a spectacular vineyard with panoramic views framed against the Dandenong Ranges. The café has a lovely outdoor section overlooking the vineyard.
The De Bortoli Estate is one of the prettiest vineyard in the region. The 200 hectares vineyard, together with its stunning Cellar Door and landscaped gardens is breathtaking. Besides a restaurant, there’s also a cheese shop in the Cellar Door where Australian and international cheeses are matured to perfection in their custom-built maturation room.
De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate