One of the best places to spend a summer afternoon is at a winery. In winter it is still nice, but there is something truly beautiful seeing the rows of vines with grapes just harvested (in the case of many white varieties) or just about to be (in the case of most red varieties) which adorn the rolling hills of whichever wine region you are lucky enough to find yourself in.
It is no secret that many wineries that operate cellar doors have café or restaurant facilities and the dining is quite often impressive; wine-matching the food is almost a given and the diversity of dining experiences we have found on our walkabouts is almost as diverse as the wine we have tried.
A personal favourite of the author is Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley. The reasons will hopefully become clear once you have experienced it yourself, but the number of sparkling wines on offer is impressive (our group favourite is Cuvee Riche with its brilliant gold colour in the glass and extra sweetness on the palate which makes it a perfect pairing with the antipasto platter…). The cellar door and restaurant is a major tourism award winner and this is also no surprise, with the brilliant views over the vines and generous lawn space for relaxing and soaking in the experience.
Wine tastings can get a bit busy on popular days such as weekends and public holidays, when multiple tour buses can be seen in the carparks, so allow yourself some extra time than you normally would unless you make this your first stop of the day (which then defeats the purpose of lunch).
If you are bringing overseas visitors to the area, it is worth noting that you can often find Kangaroo on the menu here. Try it with the Sparkling Shiraz Pinot Noir.
For a dessert sparkling, you could try the relative new comer in the Orange Bitters Sparkling. The palate is quite sweet and the orange bitters play more of a secondary role. The finish is not particularly long, but if you are drinking this wine it is probably more for fun than for a serious sparkling wine experience. In this regard, the wine achieves its aim; the alcohol is barely noticeable through the bubbles.