It’s cherry season in the Yarra Valley and The Plus Ones celebrated in style with a trip to CherryHill Orchards. It’s only an hour outside of the city, but the Yarra Valley feels like it’s a world away. Our weekday excursion included sipping wine in the sunshine, admiring scenic views, indulging in fresh local produce, and even picking our own cherries – straight from the orchard. (Definitely better than a day in the office!)
CherryHill Orchards are opening their orchard to the public and inviting visitors to taste their delicious fruit – right off the tree. We experienced the orchards first hand, learning how to identify the sweetest, ripest cherries and roaming through the rows of cherry trees, filling our overflowing baskets. I was worried picking cherries might feel like work. But the trees were full of sweet cherries, the sun was shining, and the scenery was charming.
For an affordable, and memorable, day out pack a picnic or pick-up food from the rotating food trucks. Then sprawl on the lawn and enjoy the scenic views (available every day) and live music (available on weekends). Entry to the orchards is $14 and includes as many cherries as you can sample on site. (I’m confident I could eat my money’s worth and then some, based on all my ‘quality control’ sampling during our visit.) You can also pick your own cherries to take home for a small fee. If cherry picking sounds like thirsty business, a complimentary Cherish Spritzer is served on arrival. The non-alcoholic sparkling drink is made from hand-picked Victorian cherries. Although I recommend topping it off with 4 Pillars Gin (another renowned product from the Yarra Valley.)
Another highlight to a day filled with charming discoveries was the orchard’s Growers Lunch. This was CherryHill’s first long lunch, but we certainly hope it won’t be their last. The ‘fruits’ of the farm’s labour were on full display. We feasted in the middle of the orchard (with sturdy wooden picnic tables delivered via tractor!) The indulgent meal showcased local produce from around the region – including Yarra Valley Pasta and Yarra Valley cheese, Wandin strawberries, and Healesville venison braised in Bulong Estate Cabernet with glazed cherries. The ‘cherry on top’ of the meal was CherryHill’s own sweet cherry ice-cream.
A trip to the Yarra Valley doesn’t seem complete without a little (or a lot) of wine tasting. And we made the most of our day with visit to Seville Estate. (You know – the winery James Halliday recognised as the 2019 Winery of the Year). Located on the ‘quite side’ of the Yarra Valley, the idyllic estate is less than three kilometers from the Orchards. Gardens growing indigenous plants surround the cellar door. This landscape design is no accident – Phillip Johnson (the first Australian to win the Chelsea flower show) had a hand in creating them. Complimentary walk-in tastings are available or visitors can book in for a progressive tasting with the winemaker that takes them on a journey through the grounds. For our part, we loved lounging on the restaurant’s spacious deck in the shade of an old Eucalyptus tree, sipping Chardonnay and Shiraz. If you’re looking to turn a day trip into a special occasion, onsite accommodation is also available (and offers what is probably the most scenic view from a bathtub in the Yarra Valley).
Jenny Schmidt is an event adventurer. She loves eating and drinking local and supports the magic of fermentation.
Be sure to book online in advance for the CherryHill Orchards Pick Your Own experience. The opening weekend sold out! https://cherryhill.com.au/pick-your-own
474 Queens Road
Family (2 adults and 2 children) – $35
Adult (14+) – $15
Child (4 – 13) – $6 or FREE on weekdays (excluding public holidays)
3 and below – Free
Also keep an eye out for CherryHill Orchard’s Lunar New Year Festival on 16 – 19 January.