Visit to Hunter Valley, Australia
Our first road trip in Australia was a 2 1/2 hour drive North West of Sydney to the Hunter Valley. It was the first time Jeff has driven on the wrong side of the car, and the wrong side of the road (sorry, not wrong, just different). There were a few tense moments, but all went well. However, I have to say we were happy to have booked a bus for our day of wine touring.
Stay: Hunter Valley Crown Plaza
This hotel is the perfect starting point for a variety of Hunter Valley adventures. You my come specifically for wine tasting (as we did) but the region also includes gardens, wildlife parks and hot air ballon rides. (No, we did not.)
With all of the facilities available at The Crown Plaza you could also just spend a day enjoying the on-site Lovedale brew pub, playing a round of golf, lounging by the expansive pool, enjoying a cocktail in the lobby bar, and finishing with a meal in the award-winning, fine dining restaurant, Redsalt.
We had a large upgraded suite, perfect for lounging and the bed was extremely comfortable, if you have time for a long morning. The only problem we encountered was not being able to attach an HDMI to the TV. No Netflix, but more time for sitting outside.
Must Do: Wine Tour
The Hunter Valley iHop Bus is a must do if you want to try a variety of the regions wineries and not worry about driving yourself. There are also breweries, chocolate shops, a dairy, and local shopping on both of the two available routes. Our driver Christy, the owner of Hunter Valley iHop, made an effort to get to know each of the groups of passengers and to make recommendations for routes and stops for each group. The first pick up of the day is 10am and four or five different hops are sure to fill your day with wine and lunch.
Meerea Park: Most Informative Tasting
Roche Estate is a terrific starting point as it includes two cellar doors (Tempus Two and Meerera Park) as well as three restaurants and the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. This shop is a cheese and meat lover’s dream with so many local choices you could enjoy charcuterie plates for weeks. But it’s the staff at Meerea Park Wines that made this stop great. They are extremely knowledgable about their own wines and their history, and also about the entire region, providing suggestions and maps for how to make the most out of your day or days in the Valley.
Piggs Peake Winery is worth a visit to understand the wine making process. The tastings are set up inside the barrel room and the people pouring the wines are often the ones who make them.
Brewery: Iron Bark Hill
Iron Bark Hill Brewhouse and Peter Drayton wines are combined in one location. With separate counters dedicated to beer and wine, this is the perfect location for visitors that are not here just for the wine. Wine flights and beer tasting paddles are available to enjoy with a meal on the outdoor, covered patio with a view of the vines. This stop is about the half-way point on the iHop itinerary and is a short walk across the road to Piggs Peake so is a perfect lunch stop.
Distillery: Hunter Valley
When you are tired of tasting wine (never!) the locally owned and operated, Hunter Valley Distillery produces a wide range of spirits, including vodkas, liqueurs, schnapps and an award winning gin. For a $5 tasting fee the unique ‘test tube’ tasting pours are generous and you will be happy that you chose to ride the bus.
Best Experience: Brokenwood Wines
The newly constructed super-structure at Brokenwood has separate areas for wine tasting, casual snacks/coffee/more wine and a full sit-down restaurant. Being able to sit and enjoy a glass of wine in a comfy chair was a highlight of the day, after several stand up tasting sessions. The menu at the snack bar looked so good that we drove back for lunch the next day.
For Chocolate Lover’s
The Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is dedicated to innovation and quality. You can watch chocolates or fudge being made in store and enjoy samples. The selection is huge and you will have a hard time deciding what to enjoy after your charcuterie plate.
The Hunter Valley region deserves at least a full day visit, but two full days are better. Consider spending 2 or 3 nights if you have the time. The iHop service let’s you sit back, relax and enjoy the view. And the wine!
We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf for 10 years and provide business services to the golf and other industries. As of August 2016 our life and our business is ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.