Let’s be honest. Before moving to Australia, I thought the wine here was going to be absolutely, astroundling craptastic. I’ve had a long-standing, fathomless love of California reds (Zinfandel…mi amor…) and my opinion of Aussie wine was almost entirely influenced by the gag-inducing Yellow Tail you can buy magnum size at Safeway for $8.99. Nearly nine months later, I’m here to convert you, gentle reader, and make the bold statement that Australian wines are some of the very best in the world. I haven’t had a Zinfandel since January and have taken a new lover in to my wine glass: Shiraz. (You’ve heard of this wine as Syrah before as well – apparently, they are one in the same when it comes to grapes.) So it was with great pleasure that Daniel, his mum Caroline, and I hopped in the car one Saturday afternoon and drove the 2+ hour drive north out of Sydney up to Hunter Valley to taste some of the best wines in this part of Oz.
We started off our adventure at Peterson House – known for its sparkling wines, we enjoyed the Bubbly Breakfast with effervescent rosé. The food was delicious, the portions quite large but really it was all about the bubbles!
Following brunch, we journeyed down the road to Audrey Wilkinson, which not only boasts being one of the oldest wineries in the region but also has some really stunning views of the countryside to enjoy. The 2014 “The Lake” Shiraz was a huge hit.
We took a breather there at Audrey before continuing on to Tamburlaine, which we absolutely adored. The wines here are organic and it was exceptionally hard to pick a single favorite…so we ended up buying a case with a variety of ones we loved during the tasting. Truly, this place is special. The inside of the tasting room is fairly austere compared to other spectacles you might see in wine country but the wines…superb. Just look at the legs on this Chardy! (One of my fave Aussie slangs words for Chardonnay…although Cardonnay without the “h” might be the real winner.)
By the time we left Tamburlaine, let’s just say we were feeling…relaxed and oh-so-giggly. But we had one more winery to visit before we could cease-fire on the wine sipping. Our final tasting of the day took place at Brokenwood, which had a wonderful Semillon, a beautiful Pinot Noir and a fantastic Shiraz.
By this time (clearly) we were desperately in need of food and absorbent carbs. We continued over to our final stop of the day: a really good fromagerie. This one pulls no punches with its name and conjures all of the cheeses you can possibly imagine. We put together a quintessential wine country picnic and sat outside on this gorgeous day.
After devouring thousands of calories of cheese and carbs, it was time for the journey home. I’m extremely thankful to Daniel for being able to get us back safely! And despite my journalistic integrity, I promised Caroline I would not post the picture of how comfortable she got en route back to Sydney. So alas, no photographic evidence will be shared there.
Long story short: Hunter Valley is a no-brainer day-trip for those with extra time on their hands during a Sydney visit. The wine is spectacular, the wineries are extremely accessible to each other and you will have a fabulous day eating, drinking and being merry.
Thanks for reading, peeps! XOXO -JW