Hunter Valley trip
Friday 20th November 2015
Rally activities continued yesterday afternoon with a seminar at the yacht club about land cruising in Australia, which was very informative and will be useful when we park the boat in the new year and venture inland. In the evening we attended the dock party which was a BYO drinks with pizza provided by Providore, a local company specialising in Italian foods. It was a pleasant, laid back evening with enough pizza to feed the entire yacht club, but in true yachtie fashion we managed to have only a few slices left at the end of the evening.
This morning we boarded a coach and headed off to the Hunter Valley wine region. In just over an hour we were driving past fields of vines, and stopped at the Visitor Centre. With only half an hour until we were due at McGuigan’s vineyard for a wine-tasting session, we opted for coffee and cake at the cafe rather than a walk around the visitor centre. This was because we had skipped breakfast in order to make the coach, and didn’t want to be tasting wine on an empty stomach! We reasoned that we would probably be returning to this region at some point, and would have time to see the visitor centre then.
All ready to go! We were soon driving past large areas of vineyard.
Back on the coach, we drove literally around the corner to McGuigan’s. The heat of the day was really beginning to build by now – it was forecast to be 42 degrees Celsius by the afternoon – and we were glad to step inside the temperature-controlled environment of the winery buildings. Steve, our guide, took us through to the wine-tasting room and told us a little about McGuigan’s. Then we got into the wine-tasting. Semillon seems to be a popular grape in this area, though I was not particularly keen on the younger wine. The older wine was less acidic and much smoother, but way too expensive for us.
We tried a few whites, then reds, and as expected Skipper preferred the fuller-bodied reds. A surprise was that one of the nicer reds was actually the cheapest at $12 a bottle. Of course Steve also liked the one that was $60 a bottle, but we didn’t buy any reds. In fact, the only bottle we did buy was for me – a tawny port, which they are not allowed to call port any more since it was not produced in the Oporto region of Portugal – so it’s just called Tawny. And very nice it was too!
Steve, keen to get inside and at the wine! Inside the temperature-controlled winery.
Steve tells us about some of the wines produced here. Looks like a serious business, this wine-tsting!
Barrels stacked up inside the wine-tasting room.
When we walked back outside after the wine-tasting was finished, the heat hit us. We piled back on the coach and drove just a few minutes round the corner to the Mercure Hunter Valley Resort. By now we were beginning to feel peckish, and so lunch was very welcome. Out on the terrace it was quite warm, but we were in the shade and there was a breeze to keep the heat down a bit. After lunch, we went for a stroll along to the Chocolate Shop, where we sampled some of the wares, but didn’t buy any because it would have melted in five minutes out in the heat. Instead we indulged in a $1 ice cream, which we thought it best to eat inside!
We strolled back to the Resort, changed into our swimming gear and went for a soak in the pool. This was my first dip since the Blue Lagoon in Fiji, and Steve’s since he cleaned the hull in New Cal, and it felt good. Showered off, we went inside and relaxed with a cuppa in the cool of the library while we waited for the coach to pick us up and take us back to the yacht club. It had been an excellent day, and as we arrived back just as Happy Hour was starting, we allowed the heat outside to cool down further while we enjoyed cold beers in the air conditioned bar.