The Hunter Valley is only a 3 hour drive from us so as we love wine dearly it was a given that we visit this famous wine region. Hunter, in New South Wales, is the oldest wine growing region in Australia with over 150 vineyards producing wines from a wide variety of grapes; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Verdelho and the iconic of the region being Semillon. Before visiting we had never tasted Verdelho and Vermentino and they both taste so good. Being a red wine fan myself it was the perfect opportunity to taste white wines.
We visited Pokolbin, one of the main areas in Hunter. The landscape in this region is divine, hills of low grass carpet the entire region and you find vineyard after vineyard. Kangaroos roam the region and sometimes they hang out in between the grape vines. We still get excited at every opportunity of a kangaroo or wallaby siting so we stuck around observing them for quite some time.
Many of the wineries have free wine tasting and the staff really take their time to chat to you about their produce and wine in general. We learnt a lot about the production and supply of wines. What stuck the most was that weather conditions were the best in years for Shiraz in 2014 so look out for that year!
We wine tasted at three wineries:
1. Audrey Wilkinson
Being one of the oldest vineyards in Australia, and the oldest in Pokolbin, it had vines as old as 50 years! This vineyard was located overlooking the valley. Due to time restraints we only managed to taste the 2014 Semillon, 2011 Shiraz and 2014 Shiraz. Shiraz being one of my favourites.
Another of the top rated wineries, Bimbadgen had a large vineyard where we saw kangaroos. Here we tasted a few more wine types, trying Verdelho and Vermentino for the first time.
3. First Creek
After learning that First Creek bottles many of the wines from the region we stopped to take a look. A glass panel dividing the wine cellar from the wine tasting room was a nice touch. Sat on high stools sipping wine from a barrel table was very quaint. Tempranillo was a new type we tasted at this winery, with a strong taste it wasn't our favourite.
Even though we did not wine taste in all the vineyards we visited we had a look at Oakvale, Pepper Tree Wines and Tyrell's Wine. Pepper Tree was extremely cute with a small restaurant, a llama products shop and the cellar. At the time there was a wedding taking place at a small chapel next to it. The setting was perfect.
After a day of free wine tasting we enjoyed a Thai meal at Oishii Japanese & Thai restaurant before heading to Hunter Valley Gardens for the Christmas Lights Show (yes it wasn't Christmas but they were on show until the end of January). It was more for children but nonetheless I enjoyed all the themed lights and taking photos with Humpty Dumpty! It took about an hour and a half for us to walk around the gardens.
We ended the night at Goldfish sipping wine (of course) and enjoying the live band entertainment. The dim lighting and music created such a chilled out atmosphere I could have stayed for hours.
Wine isn't the only product you can endeavour at Hunter, cheeses, hand-made chocolate, olive oils and bread are available. On our second day after visiting the last wineries we ended our weekend at the Smelly Cheese Shop for lunch. Their burgers were finger licking good and we couldn't resist the feta and garlic stuffed olives! The good thing about this shop was you could buy food for a picnic and have it at one of the wineries accompanied by wine.
I am sure we will return to this beautiful region to visit more wineries and soak up the stunning scenery! Hunter we will be back!