Hunter Valley

Much too early in the morning, I joined a Grey Lines tour out to the Hunter Valley for a day of wine tasting. The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine-making area of Australia. I’ve mostly been drinking wine from West Australia before this trip, so I was interested in trying wine from a different region.

I learned that I’m not a big fan of Australian semillon wine, at least from that region. (I tried three, so I think it’s a fair selection to base that statement on.)

The trip out to Hunter Valley took a couple of hours. It was amazing that scarcely more than an hour out of Sydney, you see completely wild, wooded areas of bush.

We started at a boutique winery called Ernest Hill, where the wonderful Leslie had us taste a range of about 7 wines, starting with semillon and verdelho, going through Merlot and Shiraz, and wrapping up with some dessert wines.

Our driver had hoped to show us some kangaroos, who often lie down between the rows of vines in the vineyard, but apparently it was too warm. No luck on the way in, though some people on the other side of the bus saw one hopping away in the distance.

Our next vineyard was attached to Two Fat Blokes restaurant, where I had the white wine tasting lunch. Lots of good food, paired with a semillon, verdelho, and Chardonnay from the winery out back. I skipped the additional wine tasting as we had one more vineyard to go!

We headed to McGuigans, for another set of tastings. They have award winning semillon. Still not my favorite varietal, though it might be good with seafood. It is quite acidic, though we did try the very young wines which was a factor in how acidic they were.

We then had a stop at a touristy set of shops near Hunter Gardens, called (I think) Hunter Village. I’d have been happy skipping this stop, as it seemed like it was primarily designed to separate tourists from their money. In all fairness, it worked with me, as I found a great little indy bookstore where I bought a book about bush nurses.

Our wonderful driver/guide Rusty really wanted to show us kangaroos, and drove down a side road for a few minutes on a hunch there might be kangaroos there. And there WERE!

Words are not sufficient to describe seeing these in the wild. They are such almost mythical beasts for those of us not from Australia. It was a perfect end to the day.

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