It's Easter long weekend, and I'm swapping prawns and chokkies for vino and cycling in scenic Beechworth in North East Victoria with Tour de Vines' signature Tour de Grand Gourmet.
As soon as I arrive in Albury, I can feel the city stress melt away, and this Sydneysider Brit is reminded how beautiful the country I moved to 20 years ago is.
Beechworth proves it's not just about beaches with an "a"
With its quaint shops, funky bars, local brewery and even hatted restaurants, this charming Ned Kelly gold rush town is a great place to start a grand gourmet tour.
My first evening is spent in a very cool wine bar so sophisticated I think I'm in the laneways of Melbourne.
Lachlan, of Cellar Door Wine Store Beechworth, waxes lyrically about the Chardonnay so much, I want to buy a whole vineyard full before I even try it.
"A punch in the face and a mouthful of tannin," is how it's described.
Passionately describing (or "prescribes") an amazing selection of local and imported wines, Lachlan is a veteran sommelier, who after ten years working at Café Sydney has moved home to Beechworth - and I can understand why. It's such a great spot, and one night is not enough.
I am hoping that the cycling tomorrow will cope with the vino intake and gourmet dining, which tonight is supplied by the "Press Room Wine Bar" and one of Tour de Vines' favourite Beechworth restaurants.
My fellow cyclists and guide/Tour de Vines owner Damian Cerini are all in good cheer as we hit the Murray to Mountains track. This relatively flat but incredibly scenic ride runs all the way to Bright - our final destination. But make no mistake, this trip is all about the journey: I am gobsmacked at the vineyards, speciality produce shops, and farms with the backdrop of a jaw droppingly colourful autumn. Whichever way you turn, you're in a gastronomic and scenic paradise.
I'm also pleasantly surprised at how easy the cycling is, and soon realise my biggest challenge is going to be keeping up with the wine drinking of my fellow riders! But the quality of the wine soon has me rising very quickly to that challenge.
Everything is laid on. We don't have to think - just pedal and drink. My kind of trip.
The accommodation each night is 4-star, very comfortable and close to our track or stumbling distance from our last vineyard stop. Pete, our affable bus driver drops our luggage and purchases off at our hotel each day, so all we need to do is shower and get ready for yet more food and wine each evening. How hard is that?
The final leg, riding through the alpine valley in the shadow of gorgeous Mount Buffalo, was an Easter treat better than any chocolate egg.
Our group had such a great time that the only topic of conversation before going our separate ways was when are we doing it all again! Will it be the Barossa in October, or Cambodia in January 18?
For all Tour de Vines itineraries, www.tourdevines.com.au
Subscription successful! Thank you for subscribing.