By Tilly Smith Dix
My neighbour is a charming woman and in the past year we’ve managed to meet at different locations to sample good food and wine, when she is not travelling the world. She had mentioned her and her husband’s winery and event destination but never in a boastful way. I like that.
Having visited and reviewed several vineyards and eateries in our valley of plenty, I was in search of a destination with a focus on romance. After some research, I came across Immerse in the Yarra Valley, which looked promising as it was open for lunch and wine tasting on weekends, whilst a luxe wedding, events and conference destination during the week.
Once I realised this was indeed the winery owned by my neighbour Helen and her husband Stephen Myles, I requested a tour and was offered a wine tasting on a Saturday, which was arranged and confirmed by Alyce, one of several gems employed at Immerse.
The drive from Coldstream along the Melba Highway to Dixons Creek via Yarra Glen is a delight and as always, I enjoyed crossing the Yarra River meandering through the valley, with rolling hills, creeks, pastures, woodlands and vineyards that are balm for the soul.
Early spring vistas along the Melba Highway to Dixons Creek.
The diverse designs and locations of the wineries of the Yarra Valley never cease to fascinate me and I was charmed by the unpretentiously beautiful Immerse estate. My delight blossomed further by the engaging warmth of the staff, not to mention sublime design as well as some quirky décor touches in the restaurant and bedrooms.
The spacious restaurant and cellar door are complemented by enormous picture windows, optimising the natural light of the interiors and embracing vistas of the magical gardens, including a coveted rose garden surrounded by vines and moss-green rolling hills.
Immerse restaurant and cellar door spaces bathed in natural light.
My engaging guide and sommelier, Peta, proved a mine of useful information and her passion for Immerse enhanced my experience even further, thus making up my mind to book for lunch soon to revisit this authentic destination with Andrew.
The charming wedding chapel, romantic gardens, vines and ornamental lake, and heritage as well as modern boutique accommodation comprising 20 rooms, are a pleasure to behold and I marvel at how this property had evolved over the years, reflecting the vision of the owners, to create a unique experience, immersed in warmth, beauty, romance, and delectable food and wine.
Heritage accommodation and magical gardens on a cold, rainy day.
Offering bespoke weddings and conferences to suit any style or desire, complemented by the sublime vistas enhanced further by kangaroos frolicking in the vines in the late afternoon, Immerse offers solace for the city-weary corporate soul or stressed bride.
To add to the serenity, Pilates in the Vines is proving popular, and relaxation massages and yoga are available to conference guests.
Catering for between 50 and 200 guests per event, Immerse is far enough from the city to escape urban hype, yet close enough for a scenic drive from vibrant Melbourne.
The chapel and new annex reflect charm and character.
Helen and Stephen purchased the property in 2001 from Brian Love, spent two years renovating it and launched Immerse in 2003. Their daughter Katie is part of the management team and it is evident this locale is in her blood.
The vines, planted in the mid-80s, were lovingly tended and today, all the Immerse wines are produced offsite at Rob Dolan Wines in Warrandyte South.
My Immerse wine tasting was exquisite and some lunch guests opted to join me as they found my enthusiasm contagious, while Peta’s knowledge and charm proved irresistible to them too. As we continued our tasting journey, they too became enamoured by it all as the ten tasting wines were full of tantalising surprises:
Sommelier Peta, left, and inspirational spaces, fit for any occasion.
White and rose:
- Immerse Sparkling Chardonnay (non-vintage): robust and refreshing, would be ideal with a summer cheese platter – I could smell spring and laughter, resulting in this being my choice of wine to take home to savour with my favourite marinara.
- 2015 Oscars Reserve Chardonnay – citrus, fruit driven, modern style: light, summer nose, with a hint of honey and nut – pure delight. I love the sentiment of the family, commemorating their much loved, now residing in heaven, golden retriever, Oscar.
- 2015 Immerse Chardonnay – nectarine, buttery, subtle oak styled: works well with savoury and cheese platters and not heavy on the palate, which works for me.
- 2016 Yarra Valley Wine Company Rose: strawberry, apple, lingering finish: pretty, strawberry nose, a refreshing tipple for summer.
- Yarra Valley Wine Co Moscato (non-vintage) – real fruit and 7.5% alcohol, sweet bubbly: not a lover of sweeter wines, this one charmed me as it was refreshing and vibrant; would complement a baked cheese cake – dancing on the tongue, as any self-respecting dessert wine should.
- 2015 Oscars Reserve Pinot Noir – earthy, dry: the earthy, layered tones reminded me of truffles, ending with a dry note, which would age well – buy plenty and keep it in the cellar, although I liked the young reserve just fine.
- 2016 Yarra Valley Wine Co Shiraz – subtle spice, dark berries: deep in colour with a spicy, deep nose, the silky-smooth nectar could also be matured at home.
- 2016 Oscars Reserve Cabernet – floral with black cherry and fine tannins: gentle nose, I loved the dark cherry notes.
- 2014 Sam’s Cabernet Sauvignon – another tribute to a beloved pet, offering black fruits and liquorice notes: this would be the ideal gift for my husband at Christmas, a perfect mature wine to enjoy with a juicy steak or simply to sip in front of a log fire, as it exudes warmth and depth.
- Immerse Sparkling Shiraz (non-vintage) – strawberry sweet bubbly: not cloyingly sweet and I liked the cranberry notes – I’d savour this one with a good curry.
I look forward to revisiting Immerse Yarra Valley to savour the cuisine and judging by the conviviality of the diners during my visit last Saturday, it is an experience to indulge in sooner rather than later. Next step is to join the Immerse Wine Club for less 50% on our first case of wine, with more discounts depending on 6- or 12-pack case purchases. Not too shabby. Watch this space.
See more at immerse.com.au – ah, cheers to the good life!