I’m lucky enough to live only a couple of hours from the Hunter Valley in NSW, one of Australia’s premier wine regions – and even luckier to have a friend who owns a house up there! So earlier this month, a small group of us left Sydney to escape to the vineyards for the weekend. It was an absolute dream, with food, wine and more than a few puppies to play with, and I thought I’d share a few photos with you.
(Clockwise: Ballabourneen Wine Co x 2, Amanda’s on the Edge, Waverley Estate)
We chose the perfect day to visit the vineyards, as the morning started out a bit drizzly but cheered up by the time we got on the road (after stopping for coffee and some planning at Sugarman Espresso in Kurri Kurri). Being September, the vines weren’t looking their best, but we still found some pretty spectacular views. I would be happy in the Hunter at any time of the year to be honest! So it was a lovely, lazy day cruising around the vineyards.
The Wyndham Estate Winery is a treat to visit, with an enormous tasting room and plenty to look at; however, the most exciting part was when they decided to crack open the 2009 Padthaway Single Vineyard Shiraz, which retails for $150 AUD! I get it now. The expensive wine thing. Which is probably not a good thing!
You’ll end up walking out with a bottle or two here before you even realise it, but the staff are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable that you won’t even mind. The great thing about visiting the Hunter is that you have plenty of small, boutique wineries, which I adore, but you can also visit some of the major players, like Wyndham, and get the same welcoming experience. Bigger doesn’t equal snooty out here!
We stopped at Amanda’s on the Edge for lunch, which looks fairly sweet and unassuming from the outside, but boy do these guys know what they are doing! Eating in the Hunter is an experience in itself, and I enjoyed every bite at Amanda’s. I had the beef eye fillet with a gruyere cheese, thyme & potato galette and paris butter – complete indulgence! We decided against having wine with lunch, for obvious reasons, but you could easily spend a good 2 hours here if you had a bit more time, eating and drinking and enjoying the surrounds.
Our final stop for the day was Ballabourneen Wine Co – who are also home to a Pukara Estate Tasting Bar – and it was definitely a highlight. The view is breathtaking, the staff (and their two pups) are ridiculously friendly, and they have lounges fashioned out of old bathtubs. I think we all left carrying bags – I bought 2 bottles of wine and 2 Pukara oils (pepper and chilli), but it was seriously difficult narrowing it down. Everything here was delicious!
What are your favourite places to visit in the Hunter Valley?