It was a bit of a drive from our campsite to the next stop in Hunter Valley, and we had to go shopping along the way. By the time we got to the Cessnock campsite, it was around 2pm. The lovely couple who owned the site greeted us and gave us lots of information about the area. They gave us a list of the different food and wine tours available and told us that if we booked on their recommendation we would get a discount; unfortunately, we had already booked our tour (but it was worth every penny!)
They also informed us that the small brewery down the road offered a tour and tasting for $10 at 4pm, perfect timing if you ask me. We got the van set up, freshened ourselves up and headed down to Potters Brewery for the 4pm tour. The brewery was really small; all the vats were right next to the bar but looked awesome. The place had an excellent charm, as did the staff, and even more so the beer.We enjoyed a couple of beers, whilst one of the brewers talked us through the beer making process. It was really interesting to learn about the different ingredients and how the different hops and grains could create a variety of flavours and colours. All in all, a very informative tour, well worth the $10. I found their dark ale to be my favourite, but after the tour ended we headed over to their regular bar where I tried another beer called the Slaked Magpie. This beer tasted almost like an espresso martini, just thicker. It was delicious, but just like a dessert in a pint glass! I only managed to drink one it was that indulgent, but for anyone visiting there, I highly recommend giving it a try. The following morning, we were booked on to a winery tour with All Around The Vines. We were picked up from the campsite at 10am on the dot, and found that we were the only people on the tour! It is “winter” at the moment, so places have been considerably less crowded which is nice for us. So off we went on our little private tour of the Hunter Valley. Our driver, Warren, was excellent! Really friendly, and he also knew his stuff. We chatted away happily, he asked us if there were any particular places we wanted to see, and having had a few suggestions from friends, there were a couple of places we talked about seeing. First stop was the Calais Estate, a gorgeous little boutique winery. Being the first ones in the door (10am drinking is totally acceptable in Hunter Valley), we were given a warm welcome. We were given a number of wines to taste and even treated to their two ciders (affectionately named after their two dogs). The wines were delicious, we ended up buying a desert wine which was like liquid gold, and one of the ciders. Although my heart was with the delicious chardonnay, which we ended up going back for the next day! After Calais, we continued on to Mcguigans which was a little more commercialised and more well known. I wasn’t as big a fan of Mcguigans, the wine was nice, but the experience wasn’t as personal as at Calais. We soon continued on our tour and headed to an organic winery called Tamburlaine. The guy who served us there was a character! Very cheeky and funny, and he also knew his stuff about wine. He was very informative and gave us little scenarios for when we might enjoy each wine. We had a good giggle there, and it being our third tasting of the day, we headed out for lunch shortly after.
We had lunch at Hunter Valley Gardens, and visited the cellar door there too. They even had an array of flavoured spirits to try. The cellar door felt closer to a bottle shop, again there wasn’t that personal touch you got from the smaller wineries.
We continues on the tour to Constables winery, another boutique winery. The lady here was great! She was very chatty and had an excellent sense of humour. She gave us an array of wines to taste, and by this time we had a taste for what we enjoyed. I was more keen on the sweeter whites, but I really want to learn to enjoy reds. Constables happened to have a red that I rather enjoyed so we ended up buying a few bottles of that; the labels included Matilda, a funky cow, which was a piece of art work in the winery, so that swayed me a little too!After Constables, I thought we would be heading back to camp. The tour only usually included 4 or 5 wineries. Warren, being the champion he was, took us to one last stop on the way back. Peterson House specialised in sparkling wines. I loved it there, all the grounds were gorgeous, and the ladies that worked there were so lovely. We had a lovely chat, giggle, and tasted some delicious bubbly wines. With our bellies full, we headed back to camp after a wonderful day. Once we got back to the van, we didn’t take much rocking, once my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. We were leaving the Hunter Valley the next day, but decided to stop off at a couple of recommended spots on our way out. First up was Meerea Park, which was on the Roche Estate, home to other cellar doors such as Tempas Two. Gorgeous, grand place, and then we rock up in our bright green van. We turned a few heads there that’s for sure. We didn’t spend too long there, it was a little fancy for us back packers. Second on the agenda was Tyrrells. Again, a beautiful spot, lines of beautiful roses as you drive up the drive way, however, it had a much friendlier feel to it. An American girl started our tasters (I say our, I mean mine, Ryan was designated driver), she was super nice! She showed me down the wine list and gave me a few wines to try based on what she thought I’d enjoy. In the end I settled with a gorgeous port, which had a reasonable price tag too! That was a nice surprise. We wanted to visit Wandin estate, where a friend of ours got married, however we drove up to find that they only opened during the weekend. We snuck a brief look around the grounds, which were beautiful, before carrying on to lunch. Major Lane Smokehouse, was another recommendation, so we stopped there for lunch. The turning to the smokehouse was a little hidden, and if you weren’t looking for it you probably wouldn’t see it. When we pulled down the drive way, we were worried we had gone the wrong way, but we made it and boy was it worth it. I ordered the lamb pie, and it was AMAZING. Ryan had a trio of sausages, which was equally as good, and all the sausage were made on site. The food was excellent, and a nice way to round off the trip.
Hunter Valley was one of the most indulgent places I have ever been too. I’m pretty sure I consumed my body weight in wine, cheese, and other delectable delights during the few days we were there. I felt like I needed a few days to sleep off everything I had consumed, which was great as we had planned to stay with friends in Nelson Bay and Gorokan for a few nights. Bye for now