Indulgent Day Trip From Sydney
Join NSW blogger Daniella for a trip to the heavenly Hunter Valley
‘One or two wines will tap you on the shoulder and say g’day’
The first European stumbled across the Hunter Valley by accident in 1797 during a search for escaped convicts, according to an 8am history lesson by the friendly guide from Boutique Tours Australia. Twenty years later, the first vines were introduced; 20 acres of vineyards were planted by 1823, and so evolved the rolling hills and green valleys of the romantic playground region embraced by Sydneysiders and international visitors alike.
The first stop of today’s Boutique Tour is Ernest Hill Winery, where we learn about the complexity of the wine making process. Connoisseurs or not, our host promises that if we pay attention to the taste, “one or two wines will tap you on the shoulder and say g’day”. With authority earned from a lifetime immersed in wine, his advice proves itself true on numerous occasions throughout the day.
The Boutique Tour Australia Hunter Valley experience is a personalised, intimate and flexible tour that has tailored the winery selection to suit the tastes of our small group. A true local experience, we are chauffeured through the vineyards in comfort while maintaining the ability to hop off the beaten track to visit the boutique, family owned wineries that give the Hunter its character.
The hosts of each cellar door delight in sharing their knowledge about wine, and take their time with each explanation and tasting. Every experience is about savouring the moment, enjoying the quality of produce and appreciating the effort that has gone into the creation of each indulgence. In addition to wine, there are cheeses and dips, olive oils and jams, olives and freshly baked bread.
The ‘Silver Moon’ dessert wine at Ernest Hill is the first of many to tap me gently on the shoulder, the gentle beginning of an educational journey in wine that becomes tipsier as the day progresses.
Gauging our interest in privately owned wineries, tour guide James makes an unplanned stop at Scarborough Wine Co. A charming hillside cellar door where a cheese plate accompanies the structured tasting of the wines, the welcoming hosts introduce us to many more variations that tap dance on our shoulders.
With sunshine, a relaxed ambiance and attentive service, a gourmet steak, salad and chips at The Cellar Restaurant in the Hunter Valley Gardens village provides a delicious and hearty respite to the wines clamouring for attention. Treated to a mother and daughter singing performance at Kelman’s Vineyards, a wine making demonstration at the Irongate Estate and quirky family anecdotes intertwined with tastings, the Hunter has a knack for making you feel at home.
Arriving in Sydney after a day amongst the vines, our spectacular suite on the 27th floor of the Marriott Circular Quay reminds us that returning to the big smoke ain’t so bad. The room is both modern and luxurious, complete with ipod decks, a cloudlike bed and five star views. Located in the heart of Circular Quay, Sydney’s glittering harbour beckons from the window, the white shells of the Opera House radiant against the ocean.
Reclining with strawberries, dipping chocolate provided by the hotel and dessert wine purchased earlier in the day, I am reminded of the quote by H. Warner Allen; “the wines that one best remembers are not necessarily the finest that one has ever tasted, and the highest quality may fail to delight so much as some far more humble beverage drunk in more favourable surroundings”.
Keen to experience your own wine tasting adventure closer to home?