The Traveling Steve's

Chocolate, Cheese, and Wine Tasting in the Yarra Valley with a German Dinner!

Yarra Valley Chocolateria: The next day (Saturday) our friend Ian drove us around in his large SUV vehicle to several places outside of Melbourne for a multi-hop around the Yarra Valley. We first went to a huge chocolate factory, which was in full Easter mode offering its various chocolate items in various ships and sizes for sale.

While the chocolaterie didn’t offer factory tours, they did have large glass windows that overlooked the production facilities.

At the chocolate factory, we met up with Ian’s brother, Stephen (who he nicknames “Stebs”) and his wife Salve. I had met them both over 25 years ago on a previous trip to Australia, although DOS had not met them before. It was great to see them again! Here’s a photo of Ian and his (non identical) twin brother Steb’s.

In the retail chocolate shop, a nice lady was offering samples of 3 different types of mini chocolate bits, ranging from dark chocolate, to white chocolate, to milk chocolate. I liked the dark chocolate bits the best, and had Steve (DOS) take a photo of the lady who served me (complete with her Easter Bunny ears!) and myself.

There were many chocolate gift sets of everything chocolate, or if you were really a chock-a-holic they had a 1 meter chocolate bar!

After looking around for awhile, we headed to the adjacent cafe, and had a relaxing coffee, in this quite busy establishment.

Salve (Steb’s wife) and Rosemary in the chocolateria.

Before heading out, we walked around the grounds of the chocolate factory, which featured a couple of friendly pink kangaroo statues we had our photos taken with.

Yarra Valley Dairy: We next made a brief stop at a dairy farm’s retail shop. This rustic building was full of not only cheeses, but picnic baskets, wine bottles, ceramic coasters, and kitchen utensils etc. They also offered cheese tastings ranging from $5 to $10 a person, although we didn’t participate in that. The retail items for sale and wines tended to be on the higher end, making this more of an upscale country market.

DOS purchased an insulated bag good for transporting wine or food items to keep cool such as cheeses and other foods. He didn’t buy this big picnic basket though! There was not enough room to bring it back home with uw, not to mention we don’t need a huge picnic basket!

Wineries: We next visited two wineries; the first one, Yering Station, dated backed to 1859, and was touted as the oldest winery in Victoria.

Inside the tasting room, DOS, Salve, and myself had a Premium tasting for $30 a piece. We were served several wines by an energetic and informative young server originally from Montreal.

The second winery we went to, Hubert Estate Winery, was more modern and had recently built new tasting facilities and a huge sit-down, table service area to sample their wines.

Our server Julie provided wonderful service and we got a photo together before we left.

Hubert Estate Winery had two restaurants; one of which DOS, Salve, and I went to for our tasting and several appetizer/cheese/charcuterie plates, while Ian, Rosemary, and Stebs were not sampling wine so they went to the other restaurant for pizza.

Rosemary bought some sparkling Australian wine “Champagne” to take home.

After the second winery, Ian drove us back to Melbourne, as hew was the designated driver. (Australia has super strict drunk-driving laws, and their alcohol limit is only .05 percent, compared to .08 in the US.) Hence Ian had no alcohol on our winery visits, but was glad to watch us as we did.

We had a fairly quick drive back to Melbourne of just over an hour, and arrived back to the hotel by 4:30pm. After showering and napping, DOS and I met Ian and Rosemary up in the Grand (Concierge level) Club around 6:30pm for the complimentary beer, wine, and hors dourves.

Dinner at a German Restaurant: After staying until the Grand Club closed at 8pm, we headed over to the Hofbrauhaus German Restaurant that Rosemary had made reservations for at 8:45pm. Although it was a short distance, we took the complimentary city tram for a couple stops, before changing to another tram for a stop or two. The trams were absolutely jam-packed full, which surprised me at this hour, but unlike during the day lunchtime hours that were filled with business people, the Friday evening trams were packed with mostly young 20 something “kids” heading out for a night on the town. The trams were to full to take any photos, but here are a couple photos on the street in front of the restaurant.

Hofbrauahous was an authentic Bavarian type restaurant, complete with crowds, entertainment, good food, and plenty of beers in all shapes and sizes. The beer list was obviously German beers, and was long and extensive. I started with the beer sampler, which offered 5 different styles of beer, in small glasses, perhaps a bit bigger than a shot glass.

I later switched to the Hofbrauhaus original beer in a pint glass, which was very good. We had a nice and filling dinner Ian, and myself having Swiss Schnitzel, DOS having Weiner Schnitzel, and Rosemary having the Lemon Schnitzel. All the entrees were huge, but paired with our brewskis, at least for Ian and myself who downed the beer a bit quickly.

The restaurant was crowded and super noisy, but it created a fun atmosphere, (although it was a bit hard to talk), and it was fun listening to the “Oompah” band play and watch the drunken patrons dance! A group of a dozen “male kids” was at a large table next to us, and were celebrating a night out with a bachelor party, 21st birthday or whatever but were really whooping it all up! The guys got out on the dance floor and really showed off their drunken dancing abilities with each other; really a lively and entertaining thing to watch!

I think all of four our group felt a bit old all of the sudden compared to all of the “kids” having fun like there’s no tomorrow. “Time stops for no one” is an old saying but so true! Where did the time go?

We had a really enjoyable night out at Hofbrauhaus, and a very full day of touring with the chocolate, cheese, and winery tours. We walked back to the hotel instead of using the tram as it really wasn’t far once we realized where we were, and made it home before midnight. Tired, but a good tired!

Good night from Melbourne!

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