Once the hidden gem of Steels Creek, near Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley boutique winery Yileena Park has become one of the region’s must-visit cellar doors. These days, the winery hosts couples and small groups of eager wine aficionados vying for the best pre-booked limited seats in the luxurious Tasmania oak-lined parlour-style tasting room for Yileena’s detailed complimentary wine education and tasting presentations.
Entertaining, educating and sharing wines is all in a day’s play for Bob Curtis, who shares group seminar duties with his confident and vivacious wife, Dianne. To watch the pair in action, talking to intimate groups simultaneously, is impressive. As the wines start flowing, so do Yileena’s range of merlot oak barrel-smoked river salt products, including some very moreish walnuts, crowd-pleasers that pair well with the vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bob and Dianne explain the fragrant nuances of their chardonnay and rosé wines, lead groups through tastings of their premium reds (cabernet, merlot and pinot noir), and detail vineyard practices, winemaking styles, varietal traits and just about everything else you’d want to know about wine. After guests load up their cars with premium back-vintage wines Bob likes to prepare an easy quick bite of seafood paired with a relaxing drink to enjoy with Dianne; helping them together celebrate the days end.
‘It’s pretty hard to go past some fresh barbecued prawns or scallops in their shell, any time of year’ says Bob. ‘These clean simple flavours complement the pleasing lemon-zest freshness of our chardonnay. ’
Bob sears the prawns, dusts them lightly with barrel-smoked salt, and serves them with homemade thousand island dipping sauce. On other occasions, wines such as Yileena’s Rutherglen tokay call for a slice of leg ham on a crusty baguette topped with stilton and Yileena’s own seeded mustard.
‘Very simple produce, if carefully selected, is pretty hard to beat,’ says Bob. And with a such a well balanced stable of wines to draw from, Essentials thinks the Curtis crew have their evening sessions well and truly sorted.
With COVID-19 lockdown restrictions easing, tastings at Yileena Park Wines are now open to couples and small groups. We love the opportunity to buy luxuriously created back vintage pinot noir and cabernet wines dating back to 2003. Bookings are essential.