History of the Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first wine growing district – with a history stretching back nearly 180 years. Vines were first planted in 1838, and viticulture spread rapidly through the 1860s and 1870s. However increased demand for fortified wine saw Yarra Valley wine production cease in 1921. Replanting began in the late 1960s and by the early 1990s the area under vine passed the high point of the 19th century.
The Yarra Valley is now recognised as one of Australia’s foremost cool climate wine producing regions, capable of making classic styles from a wide range of varieties. The Yarra Valley offers fine sparkling wines, exceptional Chardonnay, complex Pinot Noir and world class Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
1838 The Ryrie Brothers planted Victoria’s first vineyard at Yering Station and in 1845 the first Yarra Valley wine was made by James Dardel.
1850 The Ryrie Brothers sold their property to Paul de Castella.
1863 Hubert de Castella established St. Huberts Vineyard and Guillame de Pury established Yeringberg. These three Yarra Valley vineyards covered an area of 430 acres. The local wine industry was flourishing and tourism was booming.
1889 Yering Station won a Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition – the only wine from the Southern Hemisphere to do so.
1892 The Deschamps Brothers established Yeringa (now Yering Farm) and Dame Nellie Melba’s father, David Mitchell planted vineyards at Stringybark Creek. Plantings reached nearly 1000 acres by the turn of the century.
1937 Economic depression and adverse natural conditions resulted in the conversion of all vineyards to pasture.
1963 Wantirna Estate – the first of the new generation of wineries was established.
1968-1975 Fergusson, Yarra Yering, Mount Mary, Seville Estate, Warramate, Yarra Burn and Chateau Yarrinya (now De Bortoli) were established. Yeringberg and St Huberts were re established.
1978 Chateau Yarrinya won the Yarra Valley’s first Jimmy Watson trophy. This same vineyard, now under De Bortoli’s ownership, again won the trophy in 1997.
1982 The Besen family founded TarraWarra.
1983 Yarra Ridge established.
1985 Coldstream Hills was founded by wine writer, James Halliday. Long Gully was founded by the Klapp family.
1986 French champagne house Moet et Chandon established their Australian base, Domaine Chandon, at Coldstream.
1987 Australia’s largest family owned wine companies, De Bortoli and McWilliams, establish Yarra Valley wine labels in 1987 and 1994 respectively.
1989 Victoria’s first vineyard, Yering Station, was replanted and original buildings on the site were restored.
1990-2000 Around 40 new wineries were established in the Yarra Valley, mostly smaller, family owned enterprises but also larger concerns such as Punt Road, Rochford and Sticks.
2003 Fosters purchased Southcorp wines, which added Coldstream Hills and St Huberts to the company’s winery holdings in the Yarra Valley.
2004 TarraWarra opened the Museum of Australian Art, adjacent to the winery – a gift to the people of Australia from TarraWarra’s founders, the Besen Family.
2006 Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander is built in Healesville becoming the first operational Yarra Valley winery to open in a town centre.
TODAY Over eighty Yarra Valley wineries represent the full spectrum of the region’s international reputation for super premium quality wine.