January 29, 2011
Senne’s Summary: We went on a tour to three wineries in the Hunter Valley.
This morning we had an early start for our Hunter Valley Wine Tour. We had to meet our bus downstairs at 7:25 AM! YIKES! Quite an adjustment for people who haven’t really been out and about before noon for about a week 🙂
It takes about two hours to get to the Hunter Valley. Steve slept through a large portion of the trip (late night online poker takes it’s toll :)).
When we stopped at the halfway point for our pit stop I did a little dancing on the bus (when you’re that excited about seeing wineries… dancing is in order!).
Our first winery was called Iron Gate Estate. This was actually my favourite winery of the day. The wine was fantastic! First we took a little tour through the back where we saw the vats and barrels and the “crusher”.
The guy doing our tour gave us a lot of interesting information (which if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know I promptly forgot :)). I found him a bit arrogant… but was pleasantly surprised to find that the wines backed up the arrogance. They were clearly, very good wines because they were so meticulous about how the grapes are grown, processed and bottled. He was very adamant that the bottles should be corked… and screw caps were for peasants 🙂 Based on the other wines we tried with screw caps that day, I’d have to say that the wine backed up his statement.
We got to sit out on a nice little terrace for the tasting. Steve and I are not usually fans of white wine, but both enjoyed the whites we tried. The Shiraz was absolutely terrific, and the Sweet Shiraz (which I’ve never tried before) was amazing. (Could it be because we had a little piece of chocolate cake before we tried it???)
Steve asked whether they would ship wine back home to Canada (in all the other countries we’ve visited the answer was NO!), and again we received a NO. Apparently Canada has the second highest duty tax in the world at 85%! (The only one higher was Egypt at 400%… but I suspect not many people from Egypt try to send Australian wine home.) I was a bit disappointed, because that meant my only chance to drink this wine would be if I was actually in Australia. They are a boutique winery, so sell all of their wine right from the estate. We didn’t buy any wine because we are traveling to New Zealand tomorrow… but did get one pack of the Sweet Shiraz Dark Chocolates (which were heavenly by the way!).
After this we headed to our next winery, which was called Mount View Estate. I have to say, that the best part about this winery was the view.
The tasting was extremely rushed. We were all standing squished in at a counter and before we’d even taken a sip the guy was getting ready to let us try the next one. It felt very assembly-line”ish”. It didn’t help that I thought one of the wines tasted like nail polish remover (do NOT ask how I know what that tastes like… some things are better left unknown), and the rest of the wines weren’t much better.
Next, we headed off to a little village for lunch. We ate lunch with a nice couple from Chicago and then walked around the village a bit. There was a great chocolate shop, which we did buy a treat from. Our favourite section was the “adults only” section in the chocolate shop. You could pick up some of your favourite chocolate treats such as “Dunkin’ Dickies”, “Nipple Nibblies” and my personal favourite, “Marshmallow Willies with Dipping Sauce”. I am NOT making this up!!!!
After this, we headed to our final winery stop, which was Ernest Hill Wines.
The wine here was good (if we hadn’t hit Iron Gate Estate first, I probably would have rated it higher… but Iron Gate was REALLY good!)
The guy hosting the tasting was terrific. He had a great sense of humour and told us all kinds of interesting things about the wine. We really enjoyed this tasting as well.
Finally, we were done our tastings and headed back on the sleepy two hour van ride to Sydney. It was a great day 🙂