We were up and off the boat this morning by 8.30am to start our journey north to Brisbane in time for our flight home on Wednesday. We're taking three days over the trip with today's destination being the Hunter Valley wine region, probably Australia's oldest and most visited wine region. Vineyards were founded in the valley in the mid-1800s and some of them are still going strong today.
The drive there on scenic route 33 through the Wollombi Valley was beautiful, gum forests interspersed with rolling meadows. The area is also a haven for wombats and we kept our eyes peeled but sadly only saw two that had been run over. It's the gateway to the southern Hunter Valley and was well worth the slight detour.
There are over 150 vineyards producing Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdehlo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines, many of which are small boutique establishments of around 25 acres. Vines line the hillsides all around and the decision on which to visit takes some research!
We kicked off at Petersons, sampling some very nice whites served to us by 'Jon the Pom' and came away with a couple of bottles. He explained the derivative of Pommie ... Prisoner of Mother England, being the most common explanation, although there is also a theory that the English workers went the colour of pomegranates in the fierce sun!
Next up was Irongate Winery, where the Verdehlo Semillon blend was worthy of a purchase! The vineyard had a very Tuscan feel to it, set on a hill with undulating hills all around. A rose is planted at the end of every row of vines to act as an early warning for disease or blight.
Lunch was at a very stylish brasserie called Hunters Quarter at the Cockfighter's Ghost estate. The food was delicious, beautifully presented and a nice treat.
Our final visit of the day was to the Audrey Wilkinson Winery, with beautiful views out over the vines. We didn't taste any, our month of sobriety (Sober October) is obviously paying dividends!!