If a glass of full bodied, spice scented white wine with a lush and creamy locally made triple brie, fig paste and crackers next to a warm fire, enjoyed on a plush sofa with someone you love is your style of holiday, then the Hunter Valley won’t leave you disappointed.
You don’t need a backback, hiking boots and thousands of miles of exotic untouched villages to experience adventure. Only 2 hours drive North of Sydney lies endless rows of vines, over 150 years of wine making history and some of the most unique indulgences your taste buds can handle.
To experience the Hunter Valley you have 2 options – a full day tour from the city centre to the Hunter and back in a day (you’ll need 12 hours though!) or a weekend stay. Making a weekend of it really is the best way to have enough time to take in all the things that the Hunter Valley region is famous for – wine tasting, relaxing, experiencing amazing produce that you won’t find in the city and enjoying the local, friendly and personal type of hospitality that you simply won’t find on the same level in Sydney.
The first thing you’ll need is a place to stay.
If kindling the romance is on your mind one of the Hunter’s strengths is the variety of self-contained retreats. In the Lovedale area of the Hunter valley you can expect to leave behind the normal annoyances such as neighbours, or the noise from next door. There are plenty of options where you can enjoy your own modern country style cottage set on an acreage with floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the sweeping views of your own private garden or olive grove with private decks to take in the sweeping sunsets and views of the Brokenback range. That’s after you’ve enjoyed a deep soak bath and a glass of the valley’s finest beside a cozy wood fire!
However if you’d prefer to leave hubby behind and create memories with your gal pals then modern country-style open plan cottages await you with multiple private rooms, air-conditioning, ensuites, large outdoor spas and more! Some of my best memories come from spending a weekend with 11 of my friends, drinking wine and trying to figure out how to cook dinner with so many people in our modern open plan kitchen!
A visit to the Hunter simply wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the delicious wines that have impressed everyone from the most discerning Sydney-sider to James Halliday. There are only a handful of hours between 10am and 4pm (the Hunter sleeps outside of these hours and why wouldn’t you with a soft and deep King size bed and sweeping views!) so you’ll need to maximise your time and with over 100 vineyards from the famous to the boutique to choose from, you are quite likely to suffer from being overwhelmed with options.
The Hunter is best known for its Semillons and Verdelhos and you’d certainly be missing out if you don’t include a stop at Capercaillie Wines to try theirs. The concentrated lemon peel and citrus aromas of their Semillon set the stage for a memorable drop with natural acidity. If you are a collector it’s long term cellaring potential also won’t disappoint.
One of the best ways to taste the flavours of the Hunter is to join a guided tour. Other than the obvious benefit of not having to worry about navigation (your mobile phone/GPS won’t work in all locations in the Hunter as you are indulging in a true country experience!), with the right tour guide you have a recipe for a memorable day of meeting new friends and getting access to insider tastings that you may not get access to if you simply walked in as a member of the public.
Think private tastings with your own cellar door expert, expertly matched cheese and biscuits or dark chocolates to enhance your tasting experience and having the time to hear the unique stories and inspirations behind the wines that are the pride and joy of their creators.
That is the difference between simply tasting wine and experiencing wine.
Choosing to experience the Hunter with a tour guide that has lived and loved the local area will make a huge difference to your day. Add a luxury tour bus with leather seats, tasteful onboard entertainment from the 80s, 90s and today and even a mini-fridge for your culinary delights and a Hunter Valley wine tour with Tastes Of The Hunter Wine Tours is hard to go past.
So if adrenaline packed outdoor adventure is not quite your cup of tea, there are plenty of outdoor culinary adventures to be had and the Hunter Valley should certainly be at the top of your bucket list.