Just a two-minute drive from the heart of Yarra Glen and a hop, skip and jump away from some of the region’s best wineries, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is a sweet haven for the young and old.
My husband and I had visited before following a lunch-date nearby, but we had never taken the kids so we decided to spend a sunny winter’s morning at the Chocolaterie.
The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is owned by husband and wife team, Ian and Leanne Neeland, who will also be opening up The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie in September this year.
From the picture-perfect location and chic architect-designed building, the generous tastings on arrival, the floor-to-ceiling windows (which allow a behind-the-scenes look at the mostly European chocolatiers crafting the chocolates), to the delicious produce in the cafe, and sprawling grounds (complete with farm animals) to relax in – it is a winning concept!
On this occasion, we were fortunate to have Ian give us a tour of the Chocolaterie and surrounding grounds. It was peak time when we arrived, but Ian could not have been more hospitable and lead us through a tasting of their beautiful Gourmet Collection range. The kids fav was the Cookies & Cream while I delighted in a Macadamia & Salted Caramel treat while admiring the local artwork gracing each package. Ian then talked me through some of the state-of-the-art equipment and I caught a glimpse of the chocolatiers at work as they created a fresh batch of chocolate-coated freeze-dried strawberries.
After a quick taste test, Ava and Alex set about exploring the 40-acre property with sweeping views of the valley; we had a game of ball, visited the farm animals, and then made a pit stop at the café for macarons, milkshakes and hot chocolates.
All the delicious cakes and desserts are made on-site by the Chocolaterie's pastry chefs - the chocolate ganache in the macarons was seriously the best I have ever tasted!
The kids also enjoyed the activity station in the cafe and helped me whisk the melted chocolate into my decadent dark hot chocolate. SO delicious! It was a magical experience for Ava & Alex and you can truly see how much thought Ian and Leanne have put into making this a family-friendly attraction.
After another game of ball in the gardens our last stop was for ice cream – unsurprisingly, both kids opted for the house-made chocolate ice cream – followed by a final stroll through the showroom and gift shop.
The gift shop features all the crowd favourites. From ‘Rocky Road’, to pastilles, giant freckles, an extensive gourmet truffle range, to the quintessentially Australian ‘Bush Tucker’ range, which incorporates native ingredients and many products featuring fruits and nuts picked from the chocolaterie's orchard and kitchen garden.
Ian and Leanne are incredibly generous and welcoming hosts and you can see how passionate they are about their local community, their family business, and of course the chocolate itself. I said to Ian as we were leaving how proud he must be of what they have created. It is truly a magical place and we will be returning again very soon.
PS. I was very excited to hear they host children's parties at the Chocolaterie. There are two different party packages and one package even includes a chocolate making class! You can find out more at www.yvci.com.au