5 things to do in the Hunter Valley, it’s not all about the wine… much!

25 October 2012

The Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most popular wine regions. Only a couple hours north of Sydney, “the Hunter” (as the cool kids call it) provides an easy yet enjoyable getaway for busy city folk such as us, needing some well earned time out. Let us take you through a typical few days on a Hunter Holiday.

1. drink some wine… but stay somewhere sweet like Chateaux Élan

Chateaux Elan at the Vintage is close to the action, but secluded from any traffic (besides the pesky helicopter that keeps landing to pick people up). Once you’ve had your breakfast wine (I’d suggest a Blanc de Blanc bubbly as Chardonnay is one of the grapes the Hunter is known for), you can jump in the pool, have a game of tennis or a round of golf… it’s all there on your doorstep. The Great Greg Norman actually designed the course so you’ll have to replace your divots otherwise he’ll get angry at you. After all that exertion, you can return to your room and run a bubble spa bath, to which the perfect accompaniment would be a refreshing glass of… well you may as well finish the open bottle of sparkling, the teaspoon in the bottle doesn’t work.

2. drink some wine… while eating oysters… and chocolate coated strawberries

Now there are 2 things we really reeeeally like to eat, with or without wine… but with is better. Oysters and chocolate. Passing Peterson House on Broke Road I saw the signs “OYSTERS AND WINE” and “CHOCOLATE”, so a quick U-turn and we were into it. After a snappy tasting of their considerable range, we headed for the oyster bar situated on the verandah, over looking the vines. Now again sparkling wine is a perfect accompaniment to freshly shucked oysters, but so is some young Hunter Semillion. With loads of tart citrus flavour, you could almost squeeze some of the bottle onto the oysters and save yourself a lemon wedge. After slurping down a quick dozen, it’s across the path to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company to indulge in their fine range of unique handmade chocolate products and huge variety of freshly made fudge. We opted to keep with the romantic culinary theme and purchased a couple of delicious chocolate coated strawberries. Now don’t freak out, but wine isn’t available here… so we smuggled in a hip flask of Hunter Shiraz. The spice from this local drop complimented the rich chocolate and sweet berry.

3. drink wine… while getting private tours of boutique Hunter Valley wineries

For this day you need a driver, believe it or not drink driving is still illegal in the Hunter Valley. We chose to hitch a ride with Margaret from Hunter Valley Private Tours , what a champ. This particular day we had her to ourselves so we were free to pick and choose the vineyards to visit, but worst case scenario you’ll only be sharing her Merc with a few other couples. The tour is still very personalised regardless of numbers.

Which ever way you get there, in my opinion there are a few standout winery/cellar door experiences, and they’re not the massive ones. In the interest of time saving, I’ll use only 3 words to sum up my 4 favourite wineries. There were many more that we visited and that I’d recommend, but it’s possible to have too many options. Iron Gate Estate – boutique, villa, Roger. Lakes Folly – historic, cabernet, care. Bimbadgen – contemporary, range, amphitheatre. Keith Tulloch – class, culinary, estate. After all that wine tasting… there is only one thing to do…

4. drink some craft beer at Potters brewery

Our palates need re-aligning and the only way to do that is to drink some quality boutique beer, and the local drop is exceptional, Hunter Beer Co at the Potters Brewery. These guys hand craft a bunch of regular and seasonal brews that will keep even the biggest beer snob happy. Time to head back to the room for more spa bath’s and wine me thinks.

5. drink some wine… then get married at Cafe Enzo

Now this isn’t a must is you’re travelling with a ‘close mate’ or you only met each other at the last cellar door… but for those on the hunt for an awesome wedding venue, we highly recommend speaking to Mel at Cafe Enzo, part of the Peppers Creek Village on Broke Road. You can hire out the quaint little on site chapel or do what we did and have the entire wedding in the cafe courtyard. Setting was amazing, food was amazing, Mel was amazing, wine was amazing. We had amazing time. Did I mention the wine was amazing.

So that’s it… 5 things to do in the Hunter Valley… and who are we kidding, it’s ALL about the wine!!!