Glorious winter in the Yarra Valley.
Fresh fragrant air, clear, crisp, exhilarating and luminous. The call of a morning bird-song, and open, spacious landscape gently tug at your soul pulling you back to nature.
Winter in the Yarra Valley calls for splashing about with gumboots, warm coats and snug hats. It is a time for hearty food in our cosy restaurants, and the warm smile with relaxed conversation of our cellar door hosts.
With so much to weave in to a winter stay at Botanica Editions, we wanted to help by suggesting a boutique 4-day (3-night) gluttonous adventure. One we like to take our family and friends on when they visit during the winter months.
Pack your gumboots for your Yarra Valley winter sojourn.
They are the easiest choice of footwear for puddle jumping, adventure walking, gardening, vineyard exploring, stomping around farmers markets, and .... bless their souls ..... the local providores are even happy for you to go shopping in them. Any time of day.
Gumboots lined with woollen socks are the most sensible form of footwear during a Yarra Valley winter.
The beautiful Pauline Morrissey took our gumboots on an adventure when she stayed at The Willow House in early winter to help us create this Winter Feast itinerary of 3-nights for you. Her dreamy imagery makes a wintery Yarra Valley weekend look so pretty and wholesome. You can read Pauline’s own words in her Taking a breather in the Yarra Valley travel guide.
Here's our suggestion for a winter food and wine long weekend at Botanica Editions, or
Create-your-own winter feast itinerary from our suggestions here ....
Hunt & Gather
|* Feel free to shorten the stay or add a few more days for complete ‘relax and renew’ in between gastronomic delights. Mix up the order of places you visit, or make any changes you need to suit your very own, personalised, long-weekend or 'mid-week adventure’.|
Leisurly morning start
Just an hour from Melbourne you will find Coldstream, the gateway to the Yarra Valley and your first 'must stop' to meet the delightful Youki at her Sugarbee Flowers studio.
Set within a regular strip of suburban shops, the deceiving facade is simply a front to the fairy-tale world of magic that lies inside.
Youki and her team of floristry sprites know both The Willow House and Habitat House well and can style each house with enchanting floral installations if you have a special occasion during your stay.
One of our favourite guest experiences – a secret shared only with Botanica Editions guests – is asking the Sugarbee floral stylists to load your chariot with dreamy scented blooms so you can create-your-own your own floral wonderland when you arrive at your country home of The Willow House or Habitat House.
Phone ahead to be sure you meet Youki, don’t leave it to chance. She is often out around the Valley sprinkling her magic at one of our beautiful wedding venues.
Half way between Sugar Bee Flowers and your next stop Zonzo is Yarra Valley Dairy.
The Cheese Shop found at the home of the Dairy in Yering is the only place you can purchase a 1kg tub of Persian Feta.
It is one of the most economical way to buy in bulk.
Zonzo Estate is the perfect place for a casual lunch in the ‘rustic’ Italian casalinga [home cooked] tradition. Beautiful charcuterie plates and wood-fired pizzas to share; arancini balls, spanner crab ravioli or succulent slow cooked lamb and roast potatoes, are just a small selection for an afternoon of grazing. Select a cosy table inside by the fire or connect with the expansive Yarra Valley landscape and vineyard views, soaking in the winter sun on the outside terrace.
We want you to feel like you are stepping in to the home of a close friend, welcoming you to their country home for the weekend, or your 'mid-week weekend'.
The world changes the moment you step through the cherry red door in of your country home, The Willow House.
Here the traditional Japanese entryway, the Genken, is where the gracious act of leaving shoes at the door is honoured. An invitation to physically and psychologically ‘step in to a a different level’, entering a private space, a retreat, your own personal sanctuary in the Yarra Valley.
Hunt and Gather
The seasonal medicinal and culinary gardens of The Willow House and Habitat House love to share their bounty. We love it when guests harvest winter greens, fragrant herbs and chillies before the cheeky [Common] brushtail possum living in the bamboo at the back of the garden decides to help herself.
Personalised welcome notes offer recipe ideas to complement the kitchen garden produce in season and are coupled with tips on how to find some the Yarra Valley’s quality purveyors of fine foods. It's easy to prepare an afternoon grazing plate or cook up a storm in the Willow House Miele appointed contemporary kitchen.
Kitchen and Butcher (K&B) is one of our favourite food stores for amazing cheeses and cured meats. Easy take home meals based on the seasonal menu at Healesville Hotel are on offer, and a diverse range of healthy whole foods, vegan and gluten free treasures, yummy pastries and a full selection culinary delights, provide inspiration for just about any kitchen creation you are inclined to invent either in your own home or at Botanica Editions.
Rise and Shine to Village life
Set off early to catch the organic farmers market at Coronation Park. There are strict criteria about trading at this market – local – organic – growers show up every week, rain hail or shine.
As human beings we crave connections and the digital age of online shopping only amplifies the joy of meeting the passionate growers, exchanging seasonal recipes and talking about the weather. Look in to their eyes, notice their earth toiling hands and feel the energy behind the wholefood – real food that is about to sustain you.
This authentic market can be a small collection of local producers and growers during the winter months but you will still find plenty of beautiful organic coffee, honey and olive oil for you to take home as well as enjoy in your country house at Botanica Editions.
If you are beginning your Winter Feast mid-week,
Nikki's Organic Fruit and Veg operates out of Wombat Chai on a Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
Yering Station Farmers Market with loads of local produce is on the 3rd Sunday of each month.
Saturday brunch - Habituel
One of the best positions in Healesville to bake in the winter sun and equally pretty on a rainy day, with their toasty heaters, is Habituel. The place to linger, alone or with friends, as you watch the passing parade.
Passionate coffee roasters, baristas and bakers - ‘Leroy’ is their famous sourdough starter that sets them apart from other breads - Habituel is the newest addition to the Giant Steps family of quality food and wine experiences in the Yarra Valley.
Sit quietly, read or write, share this space with travellers, locals and the work-from-anywhere crowd. Habituel is definitely the place to dawdle over an easy Saturday morning breakfast/brunch and stock up with your in-house feast back at Botanica Editions.
Explore the Village
Boutique businesses | Owner operated | Shop Local | Yarra Valley Treasures | Historic Buildings - just a few mantras running through your mind as you explore the township of Healesville on foot.
Each Botanica Editions house hosts an eclectic mix of furnishings and art work. Contemporary, antique, vintage, artisan, Australian, Asian and European pieces are carefully curated and blended with luxury textiles and modern amenities to create a deep sense of restoration and renewal when you stay a few days at either The Willow House or Habitat House.
The local businesses in Healesville have been a big part of the styling the Botanica Editions homes. Textured storage baskets, kitchen garden bean frames, gift cards, floral arrangements and a variety of trinkets have found their way in to our homes via the beautiful Jen of Morris et al and Teesha of (sister namesake) Veda Botanica.
We are equally confident you will be able to fill your Botanica Editions Tote bag with loads of Yarra Valley treasures to take home with you.
Sprinkled through The Willow House and Habitat House are Jules Taylor’s one-off works of art, the beautifully designed Mercurious cushions.
Occasionally you are lucky enough to find one or two ready for you to take home from Morris et al.
Graceburn Wine room
We are sentimentally fond of this space because our father and grandfather ran Healesville Motor Body Works from this village neighbourhood. Now it is a cool group of cafes and wine rooms. Graceburn, the Mac Forbes run wine room and bistro, is the perfect place for a casual Saturday (or Friday) night dinner.
Chef Erik Koel has crafted a menu of small shared plates are coupled with Mac’s own cellar and a unique selection of his friends wines from Australia and around the world.
Staff are friendly and passionate about their wine, the space is cosy and intimate for winter nights, and the wine flights are a must if you would like to try a bit of everything.
Whether it is a relaxed, dreamy, fireside night to unwind or straight in to one of the cloud beds layered in soft, organic, sensory textiles, The Willow House and Habitat House are the perfect place to take comfort in winter. Here it is easy to feel snug and warm from the inside out.
Pillow scrolls with beautiful garden stories from The Willow House rest gently, preparing your cloud bed at Botanica Editions for sweet dreams as you retire at the end of the day.
Begin your morning with a brisk early walk at Maroondah Dam Reservoir where there is likely to be only the fragrance of lemon scented gum and a friendly mob of kangaroos to keep you company.
The 108+ stone steps along one of the most beautiful winter pathways is an invigorating climb before finding ‘stillness’, calling you in the depths of the pristine and vast water reservoir.
Make your way back to Healesville Harvest for a healthy and wholesome breakfast. If you like your coffee strong, this is the place to ask for a triple shot.
The main gate to Maroondah Dam opens at 8am.
Early rising locals choose to park their car at the 'back gate' along McKenzie avenue, taking the pedestrial gate before the sunday crowds arrive.
While TarraWarra is a delight any season with her sweeping shaded driveway, rolling green lawns, bold rammed earth and stone architecture, it is the open and expansive still season of winter that strikes us most.
No effort is required to sink in to the essence of this place where TarraWarra, in the language of the Wurundjeri the traditional owners of the lands of the Yarra Valley, means “place of slow-moving water”.
The legacy Marc and Eva Besen have created is deeply considered and aesthetically stunning with their Allan Powell designed public Museum of Art and Restaurant, and Kirsten Thompson designed Cellar Door. Both structures merge effortlessly with the natural landscape and boldly help time stand still.
Set aside the rest of the day to immerse yourself in TarraWarra.
Sculpture gardens and internationally acclaimed art exhibitions will spark your inner creative. Local kitchen garden produce and plant-based ingredients at the forefront of (new) head chef Mark Ebbels menu is a light and leisurely way to meander over extraordinary restaurant dishes. And soaking in some winter sunshine while taking in the TarraWarra - Long Gully vista from the peppercorn deck, is the perfect way to finish off the afternoon with TarraWarra cellar door wine-flights and local cheeses.
Thank you Winter for returning to the Yarra Valley. You provide us with us every reason to lounge fireside all with the do-no-thing mantra.
Breakfast or Brunch?
We have 'emergency' coffee facilities in each of the houses - a beautiful Yarra Ranges local blend and a coffee plunger.
We find our guests tastes vary so much (in food as in coffee) and with so many amazing cafes close by we have decided not to compete with 'fancy' in-house coffee machines.
Pick up some beautiful pastries to bring back for brunch in the winter 'sun soaked' gardens, or perhaps your idea of luxury is breakfast-in-bed at The Willow House.
Our selection of local providores of fine pastries and barista coffee – Habituel, Harvest Café, Essenza Cafe, Wombats Chai, Mocha and Lime, and if you need your barista coffee exceptionally early (5:30am) it’s Wildgrains Bakery for you.
Homeward lunch at Domaine Chandon
Refined and elegant, fun and casual. Domaine Chandon’s new hospitality venue offers a beautifully warm and down-to-earth atmosphere while still ensuring you are treated to a sophisticated and luxurious interior design that you would expect from a venue with a French Champagne house lineage.
From lush banquette seating through to private enclaves featured in the new lounge bar, or a relaxed yet refined dining area in the refurbished head chef Joshua Smyth restaurant, there are a few constants throughout the hospitality spaces; soft pastel hues, stunning food, sparkling wine to delight the senses and iconic Yarra Valley views.
A leisurely lunch at Domaine Chandon is the ideal way to begin your drift homewards and gently integrate back in to life beyond the Yarra Valley.
Thank you lovely Pauline Morrisey for sharing these beautiful images from your Botanica Editions 3 Day Retreat. You have captured our beloved Valley perfectly, demonstrating how pretty she can be on a wintery day and helping us create this Winter Feast visual itinerary.
Pauline’s own travel guide, Taking a breather in the Yarra Valley is worth exploring, as is her feature in collaboration with Sitchu, The Ultimate Destination Guide to the Yarra Valley.