The Yarra Valley is now hosting Australia’s first Hot Chocolate Festival to help warm up winter visitors to one of the country’s premier foodie regions.

Staged at the new Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, Australia’s inaugural celebration of love for chocolate will be marked with 31 decadent hot chocolate creations over 31 days in August.

Devised by the Chocolaterie’s world-class European chocolatiers and local barista, seven new ‘limited edition’ hot chocolate flavours will be introduced each week of the Festival.

The menu of warming concoctions include Nutty Salted Caramel, Tiramisu, Chilli Bomb, Mint Madness, Cherry Delight, Roasted Macadamia, Berry Explosion and many more that draw on local Yarra Valley produce, supplies from their kitchen garden and of course, the very best Belgian couverture chocolate. All will be served with a choice of milk, dark or white chocolate pastilles, a shot of couverture chocolate and hand crafted giant marshmallow.

Hot Chocolate connoisseurs can also vote for their favourite hot chocolate flavour for the chance to win their own body weight in hand crafted chocolates from the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery.

“The hot chocolate is humble no more!” declares Yarra Valley Chocolaterie’s Managing Director, Leanne Neeland. “We are going to present a discovery of couverture chocolate creations to really celebrate winter, our love of chocolate and local produce!”

“Chocolate lovers are discerning ones. They appreciate high quality produce and craftsmanship. The days of whipping a couple of teaspoons of cocoa mix from a tin are long gone.

“Kids and teenagers are also going to love the variety of our Hot Chocolate Festival menu and the chance to have a bit of fun with it,” Ms Neeland said.

Visitors during the Hot Chocolate Festival can also enjoy free chocolate tastings and watch European chocolatiers at work handcrafting over 150 different chocolate products – and when hot chocolate drinking is over, kids can run and play in the landscaped grounds, sculptures and orchard.

The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is a newly-built destination combining striking showroom, factory and café set amongst 16 hectares of emerging fruit and nut orchard and wetlands.

Entry is free and it is open every day from 9am to 5pm. Visitors are welcomed with generous free chocolate tastings; giant viewing windows to watch the chocolatiers at work; over 150 different hand crafted chocolate products to choose from; an all- day café specialising in sweet treats and ice creams and landscaped grounds where children are encouraged to play.

When you have indulged in as much chocolate as you can possibly contain, Yarra Valley has much more to offer. Take a ride on Australia’s favourite steam train, Puffing Billy – it is one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world operating since 1900. Boasting beautiful views of the Dandenongs, it is truly a unique travel and dining experience.

Be sure to rise early the next day to catch the sunrise on a hot air balloon. It can be a romantic moment with your loved one as you take in the breathtaking views of the world below followed by a champagne breakfast.

Yarra Valley also boasts over 55 wineries to choose from. Savour scrumptious meals in winery restaurants – take your pick of Domaine Chandon, Fergusson Winery, De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant, just to name a few.

For those staying in Melbourne, one can do a day trip to Yarra Valley. Take advantage of the Go West Tours Yarra Valley Gourmet Tour at AUD$ 110 per person (RM 300). With the tour, you enjoy some of the valley’s freshest fruits, a chance to sample wine & cheese, plus this tour includes a stop at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie to satisfy your chocolate addiction.

From famous wines, fresh food to magnificent scenery, Yarra Valley is a gourmet wonderland that combines old world charm with 21st century luxury, space and style.

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