Wine And Food In Hunter Valley


If you happen to be Australia during the winter time, like we were, a great place to get out the city is the Hunter Valley. It is located about 2.5 hours drive from the city center and is home to some of the oldest vineyards in Australia. There are a variety of options to get there, but I would recommend that you drive up there and stay for the weekend to experience not only the wines, but the fantastic food that is on offer.

A good way to kick off the weekend is to do a winery tour at Tyrrell’s Wines. This vineyard has been around since 1858 and is still family owned! They do tours 7 days a week starting at 1.30pm which means that if you are lazy, like I am, you can depart the city at around 10.30am and get there with time to spare (assuming traffic agrees with your plans). The tour itself lasts for about 30-45 minutes which is plenty of time for a brief introduction into the wines of the region and the wine making process from harvest to bottling.

From there, you have an abundance of choice given the 60 vineyards that are based in Hunter Valley. A few of the more popular ones that we visited include: David Hook, Pooles Rock, Rosemount, Lindeman, Brokenwood, Allandale and Tempus Two. The great thing about the Hunter Valley is that you don’t have to pay for a tasting (unlike regions such as Napa Valley in California). Also, remember that there are a few wines that the region is traditionally known for: Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz.

After a hard day of sampling wines at the various vineyards, you can kick up your feet by the fireplace at one of the villas or resorts in the area. We stayed at Villa Cypress which is located within the Cypress Lakes Golf Resort and Day Spa in Pokolbin which we would highly recommend. We found it via http://www.stayz.com.au and, for the weekend, it worked out to be the same price as staying at a hotel but you had the full amenities of an apartment and made going as a larger group more fun (as compared to staying in your individual hotel rooms). Our particular villa had a fireplace, an outdoor deck with a barbecue, full kitchen and even washer/dryer to boot!

In terms of dining, I would highly recommend The Rock (which is only opened for dinner 3 nights a week). When you first get to the restaurant, you wonder where in the world you are because there is barely any lightening to affix you on the restaurant’s location. But, after entering the trailer-like structure pieced together with metal scraps, you are brought into a modern, simple and cozy dining room with 16-tables that overlook the vineyard which is bathed mildly in fluorescent light. On the last weekend of every month they have a degustation menu (or prix fix for the Americans) which features 8 items where each dish carries a fragrant aroma that makes you salivate. Given the tasting menu style, the portions are small, brilliantly presented and at end of the meal you will leave feeling very satisfied. It is definitely high end dining with each dish busting with flavor. If you can’t make it for the degustation menu, we would highly recommend the Slippery Jacks with spatchcock rillette and brioche; the scallop tortellini with swiss brown mushroom, crisp pancetta and Riesling cream; the Pan fried Hiromasa kingfish braised fennel, shimeji mushroom and beurre blanc; and the Wagyu hanger steak with kidney pie, wilted spinach and bordelaise sauce… hungry yet? Oh, the restaurant is generally booked out weeks in advance, so call first unless you think you can luck out with someone cancelling their reservation.

The next morning, we drove about 20 minutes to “the secret… you want to share” restaurant called Margan. The food was decent, but easily forgettable, so we wouldn’t recommend the trip unless you are feeling in the mood to drive.

All in all, a weekend where you drink lots of wine, eat great food and can then retire to your villa to drink several more bottles of wine that you purchased earlier in the day… not bad.

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