The day I researched this post, I was more likely to send Ken a drunk text message than a love letter. However, with some help from my friend-turned-driver Robyn, I pulled through with little to no embarrassment (yay ) and successfully compiled a mini guide on places to visit when out in the Hunter Valley – and I have you know, it’s not all about the wine!
Let me tell you a little bit about the good old Hunter in case you’re not familiar with this scenic Australian wine region located in New South Wales. The Hunter Valley is a popular spot for wine devotees from all over the world; depending on your budget you can explore the area with all its natural beauty and delicious culinary offerings by bus, helicopter or even hot air balloon. On the weekends Sydneysiders love to escape to this magic place of fine wines, colourful vodka creations, delicious foods and a happening concert and festival scene for a little bit of peace and quiet.
Even though you might come across a few tacky hen dos, consisting of a group of middle aged women, all covered in glitter and wearing unflattering pink dresses, the general vibe in the wine region is rather calm and relaxed. It’s definitely a place you can explore with your friends, partner or even your grandma and her (*insert explicit rap term here*) clique. So without further ado, I present to you the hidden and not so hidden gems of the area:
This one is definitely worth a visit, not only will you get to try a huge variety of flavoured vodkas (Absolut, eat your heart out!), schnapps and liqueurs, Hunter Distillery is also the only organic distillery in the country. If you’re looking to start your tasting experience with a bang, ask for the chilli flavoured Valli Vodka, lethal stuff! I quite enjoyed the ginger flavoured Black Label Liqueur whereas our happy, chappy tasting instructor, Josh – I am not quite sure if that’s really his job title or name – explained that the Black Label Mint Choc Liqueur is his favourite, yumm! Amongst other new additions, the guys at the distillery are currently working on an Absinth creation, it’s still all hush, hush, of course. Hunterdistillery.com.au
This winery is my absolute favourite. I love sweet whites and they do this fantastic dessert wine, a 2013 Late Picked Traminer, which I absolutely looooove! To me this little fruity wonder is the ultimate summer drink, perfect for picnics, a hot day by the pool or beach or simply with your cake (mmm I love cake). If you enjoy your reds, there are a few fantastic ones too, I suggest the 2013 Summer Shiraz, but you might just have to go and try for yourself. And while you’re there, head next door for some cheese and dip tastings. Mcguiganwines.com.au
We’ve already started mixing drinks, so why stop now? Next up is the Bluetongue Brewery. Reminiscent of an American diner, this place is a little different from what you’ll see in the region. Order yourself a Bluetongue tasting pedal and pick your favourite from the six choices, personally, I quite enjoyed the ginger beer but then again I like it sweet. And while you’re at it, try one of the beer cocktails, just because you can. Hunterresort.com.au
Tempus Two Complex
Often host to high profile concerts – Lionel Richie and John Farnham only just stopped by a few weeks ago – the architecturally stunning Tempus Two Complex is home, not only to the winery’s own cellar door but a variety of restaurants, a cocktail lounge and a cheese shop which happens to also dish-up tasty burgers. Try Tempus Two’s Copper Series Gewurztraminer, an aromatic, fruity white with notes of lychee and spiced pears. Tempustwo.com.au
In Broke, in the Lower Hunter Valley, you will find the visually striking Margan. The award- winning winery is the perfect spot to end your day. Stop by for a beautiful dinner at the restaurant or sample some of the delicious wines, for example the Semillon 2013 displaying notes of citrus along with sherbet undertones. Margan.com.au