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Wine Country, Melbourne's insider take:

Melbourne's verdant Yarra Valley (about 30 miles east of the city center) has some of Australia's most acclaimed cool-climate wineries. The region has 55 cellar doors, including the third-generation family winery De Bortoli, with its private Trophy Tasting Room; the historic Yering Station; the boutique winery Coldstream Hills, with its reserve pinot noirs and chardonnays; and the magnificent Domaine Chandon, where you can taste award-winning sparkling wines matched with modern Australian food. Epicurean Food & Wine Tours runs excellent, unhurried small-group excursions through the area (61-3-9598-0943;

About an hour's drive southwest of the city is Melbourne's second wine-producing region, the Mornington Peninsula ( Here, 50 wineries offer world-class pinot noirs and chardonnays, as well as fine pinot gris, pinot grigio, reisling, sauvignon blanc, semillon, shiraz, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. Enjoy an epicurean picnic in the sculpture garden of Montalto's, a Tuscan-style winery with extensive vineyards and olive groves. Also consider taking wine-appreciation sessions at Red Hill Estate or bottling your own sparkling wine at Foxey's Hangout. Other Peninsula hot spots include the acclaimed boutique winery Prancing Horse Estate, the award-winning Paringa Estate, the charming Tuck's Ridge, and Red Hill's microbrewery. Both Melbourne Private Tours (61-4-1957-1800; and Epicurean Food & Wine Tours (see above) give relaxed, reputable tours through the area.

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