On Sunday morning, we were picked up at our hotel to join one other couple for the day. Even if the van had been full, the tour is kept at a nice size to be able to enjoy the day and not feel herded around with a group. Our guide was knowledgeable, fun and unobtrusive. She set the expectations for the day as we drove out to the valley (always the least favorite part of these trips--kind of a boring drive out of town) and got us looking forward to a yummy day. The little details were covered for us, such as a cooler of bottled water in the back and free wifi on board the van.
We arrived at DeBartoli winery for our first cheese and wine tasting. DeBartoli in Yarra was established in 1989, following the purchase of the estate in 1987 by this Italian wine-making family. The estate is managed by third generation Leanne De Bortoli and her husband, De Bortoli Chief Winemaker Steve Webber. We looked around the beautiful grounds a bit and then went inside to begin our tasting. A couple of knowledgeable staff members led us through the selections, while we tasted some amazing local cheeses. They shared their opinions on favorite wines and you could tell they felt lucky to do this work. We tasted one of their famed wines, "Noble", a sweet dessert wine and learned a real lesson in pairings. The sweet wine and powerful blue cheese were a match made in heaven--neither element on its own really appealed to us, but together they brought out the best in each other.