This was our second time in the Hunter Valley having gate crashed our friends Marcus and Jen’s wedding anniversary two years ago. They joined us on this trip so they must have had fun …….. So for this blog I will combine information and memories from both trips.
WHERE TO STAY: No camping for us this week, as there were now 6 members of the FFA Team we hired a beautiful heritage cottage called the Old Hillside Homestead, it was in a perfect location to walk to some of the vineyards in Pokolbin and it even has its own cellar door for tastings by appointment.
The time before we stayed at Cypress lakes. A resort on the hill in a 2 bedroom apartment with a lovely swimming pool, jacuzzi and hire bikes. Oh those bikes….. it was tough going trying to get up all the hills to pop into a few vineyards and with only three gears at the end of the trip we burnt off more calories than we drank. The final hill into the resort was fun as the coach picking up guests for the Eagles Concert was having to follow me up at a snails pace.
WHERE TO EAT: There are lots of lovely places to eat however as we had the cottage we bought food from the local deli’s at the Hunter Olive Oil & Gourmet Food Centre which does amazing tastings with their BBQ Dukka a must try. The cheese from the Smelly Cheese Shop is excellent, but I wouldn’t recommend doing their cheese tasting for the amount and price you pay. On our previous trip to this region we ate at Muse a stunning fine dinning restaurant with beautiful Hungerford wines and their signature Muse coconut desert which is a must. The Cellar Restaurant is also very good and a little less expensive than Muse. Watch out if there is a concert on in the Valley, as getting a taxi home becomes interesting and we ended up being taken home by one of the waitresses when we went to Muse [ That’s customer service!] On this trip we had a beautiful lunch out on the Saturday at Nanna’s Kitchen We sat out of the balcony with superb views and enjoyed well cooked, fresh and tasty local produce. The great thing about this restaurant was that it was walking distance from the cottage via a vineyard, where we did the bubbles and white wine as pre-lunch drinks and the red wine as post dinner drinks.
WINE TASTING: The vineyards are all close together, some within walking and most within cycling distance. As with most wine regions there are so many to choose from so here are a few we have visited. Be prepared for tasting fees
For the Views: Audrey Wilkinson, is worth the steep climb up the driveway, but the tastings are expensive and the wine okay.
The big one you will have heard of: Lindermans is well worth a visit as there are many different bottles you can only taste and purchase at the cellar door.
The modern funky one: Cockfighterghost well priced wines and an interesting story on how they got there name. [Forgot to tell you on our first trip here we dressed up, well the girls anyway]
The sit down tastings: Scarborough a lovely family owned business, where you sit down and do your tastings….always very civilised.
The one on the way to the cafe for lunch: Ivanhoe, really friendly staff and we loved their Dark Horse Premium Reserve Shiraz (But as a treat only, not a daily drinking wine). The full range of wine was really good. It’s not often you go to a vineyard and find a lot that you like all in one place. We definitely recommend a trip and to grab a case.
THE ONE WITH THE TASTINGS ON THE SAME SITE: After you have eaten your way through the Hunter Olive Oil offerings, pop into the Pokolbin Estate, their Shiraz hit the spot with the boys [Sadly I was the skipper at this Vineyard]
PLACES TO VISIT: If you’re not wine tasting and love gardens the Hunter Valley Gardens are just stunning and have been lovingly planted with different zones of flora from around the world
There is also a kids storybook garden [Suitable for big kids too] and some great touristy shops.
For more information on the region visit the offical website