April 17th, 2013
I first visited the Hunter Valley two years ago. I loved the place even though I only spent one night, it seemed to have a bit of everything: wine, good weather, friendly people and did I mention there’s heaps of wine?
Plan at least two nights – chances are you will get there in the afternoon. Aim to attack the wineries early in the morning, most of them close around 4:00 p.m., so be wary of their schedule.
How to Get There?
The Hunter Valley is situated in Cessnock merely two hours away from Sydney, quick drive with pleasant views. Hire a car and make your way there!
Where to Stay?
There’s tons of places to stay – I’ve had good luck with the “Potter Hotel” the two times I’ve stayed there. It’s a brewery in the middle of the wine country, which is odd. Make sure to have a tour of the brewery, it’s very personal and you learn quite a bit. They have very good beer, I enjoyed the 8% IPA called “Cranky Pants” (how appropriate, huh?):
How to get Around?
If you have a designated driver, then that’s your best bet. If none of your friends want to play that role, then there’s tour buses around that will take you to certain vineyards. They are somewhat expensive but beat spending the night in prison due to a DUI. Another option is to hire a bike and cycle your way from vineyard to vineyard. The gradients are not bad at all, and with the exception of a couple of hills, it’s a very easy ride. The nice thing about riding is that you get to see things you would otherwise miss, like these guys:
Where to Drink Yourself Into Oblivion
The Hunter has lots and lots of vineyards, all at your disposal for free tastings. That’s right, no charge for tasting wines on any of the wineries (although this might change soon due to a tax law that is still pending approval). I visited the following vineyards, enjoyed them quite a bit:
Hungerford Hill (http://www.hungerfordhill.com.au/page/about_us.html)
2450 Broke Rd Pokolbin NSW 2320 Australia
You won’t miss it, its amazing architecture will attract you from the street. They had an amazing Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. They also have a fancy Muse restaurant which looked good.
Tempus Two (http://www.tempustwo.com.au/)
This one is the one I used for the cover photo of this post. The place is quite amazing, it has a Japanese and Seafood restaurant, a small shop that specializes in smelly cheese, and the winery that had very friendly staff who are eager to get you to taste everything. The tasting room is quite exotic, unlike any other I saw during my stay at the Hunter:
Make sure you try the Gewürztraminer (if, unlike me, you can pronounce it) and the Botrytis, a dessert wine which I can testify falls under the category of “FUCKING AWESOME”.
There are TONS of vineyards available of testing, so just take your time to enjoy. After some tasting, your palates will deceive you and every wine will start tasting similarly, so make sure to have enough breaks between vineyards. Oh – and don’t bother checking for weather…the Sydney Weather Bureau predicted rain on my second day, and we had none of that. Salud!