Wednesday, March 20, 2013

La Dolce Vita - Weekend in Hunter Valley

Entrance of Tuscany Estate

Dear Readers,
I have been wanting to write about our romantic Weekend getaway to Hunter Valley ever since we got back. Things have been busy and so I have had to put it off until now. A very dear friend gifted me a Scoopon Voucher for a getaway to Hunter Valley for my birthday last October, we finally booked ourselves in for the weekend of 8-10 March.  So on 8th March, Friday we set out for our little holiday. We were supposed to head out by 10 am so that we could reach Hunter by lunch time, unfortunately hubby had to work from home that morning till about mid day.We live in Inner West, Sydney and the drive to Hunter was about two hours. By 2 pm we were already famished and so we stopped on the way to pick up some take away Chinese for lunch and then finally reached Tuscany Wine Estate, our beautiful abode for two days. The entrance to the Estate is clearly marked and very welcoming. There is greenery all around and the views are just breathtaking. I was already excited, my exact words were -"Who needs to go to Italy, we have a little bit of the Tuscan sun right here in Australia."

One of the many wonderful views from Tuscany Wine Estate and Resort

We proceeded towards the reception to check in. The staff was very friendly and explained all the fine print about our voucher. We had $60 of food credit to use towards breakfast and dinner for both days and we were also entitled to a discounted rate for the Winery tour which we booked for Saturday the 9th of March. We then headed to our room to relax and have lunch. The room was beautiful and very much in keeping with the Tuscan theme with the use of ochres, yellow and blue. They even provided us with a complimentary bottle of Tyrrell's Sparkling Wine, the weekend was off to a great start.

Our room at Tuscany

Tyrrell's Sparkling Wine - gift from Tuscany Estate

Once we sat down to eat we realized the take away lady had forgotten to give us forks or spoons The Indian in me surfaced and I think I was happy enough to slurp down the noodles using my hands, I was very hungry!.We then realized Tuscany Estate is a boutique accommodation and so does not offer room service. We then went to the reception and asked for plates and cutlery and finally sat down to eat in the beautiful grassland behind our room. They had set up a little table and two chairs to enjoy the outside scenery. It was beautiful and serene, perfect weather too, only exception were a few pesky flies which were undoubtedly attracted to the food.

Outdoor setting

 We had a dinner reservation at The Mill Restaurant which was part of the Tuscany Estate. The Restaurant review can be found here - The Mill Restaurant ReviewThe next day we quickly got dressed had breakfast and waited for our our ride to the Wineries.

The Winery tour

Pick up: 10.30 am

Drop off: 5.30 pm

Destination: 5 wineries, other haunts included Hunter Valley Chocolate shop, Cheese Shop and The British Lolly Shop.

With who: A group of merry people

Winery 1: Iron Bark Hill

Address: 694 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Phone:(02) 6574 7085


You will have to excuse me I do not have pictures from this winery. The lady who did our tasting was a funny personality and she was at her personal best giving us a stand up comedy routine alongside wine tasting. The winery itself was a small boutique one. They even have a chapel for weddings and a beautiful Reception area. It's a good setting for a private function or a wedding. 
Coming down to the wines, they were good and  we tasted the Hunter Valley Verdelho as well. Verdelho is a white grape wine variety from Portugal. The grape has been successful in the vineyards of Australia, particularly the South Burnett wine region in Queensland, Hunter Valley region, Langhorne CreekCowra and the Swan Valley. Australian versions of Verdelho are noted for their intense flavors with hints of lime and honeysuckle and the oily texture that the wines can get after some agingInfo on Verdelho

After tasting all the wines we settled on our favourite (well my favourite, I like sweet)and ended up buying a bottle of the beautiful Moscato. It was summery and smelt of berries, was a combination of sherbet, Turkish delight and berries and very easy to drink. It is from their falling leaf Range.

Iron Bark Hill Moscato

Cost $20

Iron Bark Hill Moscato - Falling Leaf Range
Iron Bark Hill Moscato

Winery 2: Peacock Hill Vineyard

Address: Palmers LanePokolbin, NSW 2320
Phone: +61 (0)2 4998 7661

We then proceeded to the Magical Land of Peacock Hill. If there was an enchanted whimsical place I would like to live in Peacock Hill would be an ideal name for it. The winery is beautiful resplendent with sunshine,greenery and breathtaking views. Its also a little quirky with the presence of dinosaurs and cool motor bikes.  (I forgot to take a picture of dino, darn!)

Peacock Hill Vineyard

Peacock Hill Vineyard Barrels - that's where the magic happens

It's owned by a lovely couple George and Silvi Tsiros, who seemed very passionate about their wines. We really enjoyed the reds and bought the Vintage Godfather Shiraz, even the name has a big presence. I think this was hubby's favourite pick. We also ought the 2010 Urban Myth Fortified Wine, it's a fantastic port with deep berry flavours which would match perfectly with chocolates and cheese.

I think my favourite purchase of this trip was the Fond Memories - so so delicious and pretty! It tastes like summer in a glass, imagine sweet strawberries, raspberries mixed with a good red wine this is what you would get. I know it sounds extremely girly but would you just look at the bottle and the name- Fond Memories evokes such a beautiful feeling. The bottle is gorgeous, with the deep burgundy hue, the image of the beautiful vineyards from the magical land of Peacock Hill - it's  my kind of secret place to get lost in. 

Peacock Hill - Fond Memories
Peacock Hill - Fond Memories

Winery 3: Drayton's Family Wines

Address: 555 Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
Phone: 02 4998 7513

I was already feeling the effect of all the wine tasting, so sensible decided to take it easy till lunch. Drayton's is a family owned business and produces good value for money wines. It has some incredible prices like the gallon of jungle juice for $50 or something ridiculous like that. Lots of people from the group bought the big bottles, it was a steal really.

We settled on something a little different, the dark chocolate liqueur  You all know by now about my love for baking and as soon as I smelt this divine concoction, ideas came flooding through my mind. Hubby just had to take one look at me to know we were buying this. It's a really beautiful liqueur, smells like cocoa and tastes chocolatey with a hint of caramel but not too sweet. It's delicious, we have been enjoying a drizzle of it on warm banana bread.

Drayton's Chocolate Liqueur
Drayton's Chocolate Liqueur

Winery 4: Kevin Sobels Wines

Address: 5 Halls Road Pokolbin, NSW
Phone: 02 4998 7766

Kevin Sobels Wines

After lunch at Drayton's the happy group (it really was happy by now) reached Kevin Sobels. I had given up on wine by now and was looking forward to the Cheese and Chocolate shop. Hubby tried the wines here and thought the Shiraz was good. We didn't make any purchases here though.

The Winery itself was beautiful with the white roses leading to the entrance. There was a market on that day on the grounds of the Winery. I was just walking around when I found this little whimsical place. It looked like a very happy spot, so I spent some time there till it was time to hit the road again. 

Winery 5: McGuigan Wines and Hunter Valley Cheese Co.

Address: Corner Broke & McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2032.
Phone: 02 4998 7402

Wine tasting at McGuigan Wines

McGuigans is a celebrated Winery with many international accolades. We have tried their wines before and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately though I had had enough of wine tasting for the day and so did not try all the wines. I did try a few and I enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc and their dessert wines a lot. They have a great collection and a good sized cellar where tastings take place. There was a group of girls for a Hens Day Celebration, they seemed to be having a great time. That's pretty much what I remember and then we headed to the Cheese shop. The Cheese Shop was quite crowded and the staff was quite disinterested in helping with the tastings. The cheeses were good and we bought some blue cheese from here which hubby loves. Unfortunately the cheese packet got left behind in the bus. Hubby was very disappointed, so I just purchased some from the market in Sydney and made a nice salad with blue cheese dressing to please the poor man. 

After McGuigans we made our way to the Hunter Valley Chocolate shop and the British lolly shop. The Chocolate Shop was nothing special, we did buy some handmade chocolates from there. They were nice but I have had better at Koko Black and Max Brenner. The Lolly Shop was fun I felt like a kid in a Candy umm Lolly Shop. You had the familiar sherbet limes and oranges, milk bottles, sour apples and so much more. I loved the British Guard outside the shop and even posed with him, it was a lot of fun. This was the end of our tour and we bid farewell to the lovely people we met and headed back to Tuscany. 

The British Lolly Shop

After a little rest and a quick change we headed to the Brokenback Bar in Tuscany for drinks and dinner. Brokenback Tapas Bar was the Casual Cousin of The Mill Restaurant. It had good music and a really fun vibe. They served some great tapas like goats cheese croquettes with honey and almonds. I had a mushroom pizza which was delicious, and hubby ordered an Asian inspired Pasta dish which was over salted with soya sauce. The staff were very polite and did not charge us for it and even gave us a complimentary dessert. I think the hospitality and the lovely staff more than made up for that one dish. 

The next day it was time to say goodbye to Tuscany and Hunter Valley. We loved the beautiful wineries, the delicious food, warm hospitality and the wonderful people we met. It was an an unforgettable weekend and we will be back for sure, until then we can enjoy their wines :-)

Wines from Hunter Valley

I have a question for all you lovely people, we have all had great long vacations, but a quick weekend away is what we need sometimes. So tell me, what was your last mini vacation like and where did you go? 

Please write your answers in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Love it