Travel

Hot Balloon Flight and Wine Tour in Yarra Valley – Australia

09/12/2014

So it’s official, I am a full time blogger now! :) I left my job in advertising last week so I can now focus on my blog, photography and writing collaborations. The past year has been so busy as I was juggling different jobs and commitments while also travelling extensively around Europe and beyond. One of my hopes for the next six months is to finally edit all the photos from my recent trips as well as my honeymoon in Singapore , Australia, New Zealand and Dubai . It’s a mammoth task to blog about all the places I have visited in the past twelve months, but it would be a shame to leave all those photos on my laptop and not share them!

I am starting with sharing one of the highlights of our Australian holiday: the sunrise hot balloon flight we did with Global Ballooning in the Yarra Valley.

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Watching the sunrise from a hot balloon above the clouds was incredible and I am so grateful that I had the chance to experience this with my husband!

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Photo taken with GoPro Hero 3

It wasn’t cheap (around £200 per person), but it was worth every penny! We woke up very early to meet our driver in Melbourne CBD, then one hour drive to the Yarra Valley where we met the rest of the group and went to an open field where we helped the pilot with the launch.

That morning there were low thick clouds over the valley and I was worried they would disturb the flight and the view, but it was quite the opposite.

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Shortly after take off we flew through the clouds and emerged on the other side to a beautiful sunrise. The thick bed of clouds underneath us gave the feeling of being far away from earth and in heaven!

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We floated over the Yarra Valley in our beautiful hot air balloon for about one hour. I’m scared of flying during turbulence, but this wasn’t scary at all as the flight was gentle and smooth.

We had enough space in the basket to move around a bit and turn on different sides to take pictures. On one side we could see the sun rise over the mountains, on the other side it was the blue sky painted with other colourful baloons.

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After landing and packing the balloon away, we headed to Rochford Wines to complete the experience with a buffet champagne breakfast. We then spent the rest of the day in the Yarra Valley – one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious wine regions – doing a tour of the vineyards with Australian Wine Tour Company.

The Yarra Valley is the region surrounding the Yarra River and is host to a thriving wine growing industry, thanks to the area’s cool climate which makes it particularly suited to the production of high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine.

The tour lasted around 4 hours and included a sit-down lunch and wine tasting at four different vineyards. We started from Yering Station Vineyards, where we learned about the tasting technique – swirl, sniff and slurp – and tasted their award winning wines, like Chardonney (light, fruity and refreshing in warmer days) and Shiraz Viognier (medium bodied and slightly spiced).

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For our second stop we went to Balgownie Estate, a stylish venue where we had a lovely lunch in the restaurant enjoying great wines and beautiful views of the vineyard.

We tasted a Premium Cuvee Brut, a Sauvignon Blanc wine, a Chardonney (aged 10 months in oak barrels), a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, a Black Label Cabernet Merlot and a Shiraz.

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After lunch we visited a smaller and more rustic vineyard called Yering Farm Vineyards. it was very different in style from the other big and stylish vineyards and for this reason it was my favourite stop of the tour. I also loved the fresh apple juice from the orchard!

The wine here is made in a traditional way in their cellar door which showcases antique copper wine making tools used by pioneer winemakers over a century ago.

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We finished the tour at Domaine Chandon, the production house of the French company Moët & Chandon which is famous worldwide for premium quality sparkling wines. In the mid-eighties, a group of Australian wine experts found the ideal site for growing champagne grape varieties in the Yarra Valley thanks to its soil type (grey clay loam and volcanic red clay). Since 1986 this has been the site of Domaine Chandon.

We visited the winery before relaxing in the garden with a glass of sparkling wine and a platter of crackers and cheese. We tasted the Chandon Vintage Brut, Chandon Sparkling Pinot Noir Shiraz NV and Chandon Cuvée Riche NV. The location was spectacular and in particular I loved how each variety of grapes was marked with rose bushes of different colours.Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-17 Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-13 Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-14 Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-16 Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-15 Wine-Yarra-Valley-Australia-18

After the tour we were taken back to Melbourne, which was about an hour away by car. We arrived back in time for a nap at our AirBNB before heading out again for dinner. It was a wonderful day, certainly one of the most exciting of our 5-week holiday, and one we will never forget!

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