Winery tour of the Hunter Valley
I'm a big fan of celebrating birthdays and I love any excuse for a sneaky weekend away. For my past three birthdays (since moving to Sydney), friends and I have spent the weekend in the Hunter Valley!
Each year, we've had a slightly different crew, have visited different wineries and have used different modes of transport, as well as staying in different places. Now that I have three very different experiences under my belt, I thought I'd share what I found works and doesn't work.
Year 1: Hired minibus and driver
Year 2: Own cars
Year 3: iHop
Verdict? The minibus.
Apart from the fact that the first year was new and exciting and we went to the best wineries (in my opinion), the minibus gave us full flexibility to go where we wanted, when we wanted, and for the period of time that we wanted.
Using our own cars was good as it allowed us to save money (for more wine!) and go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. However, it did mean that two people had to stay sober all day.
The iHop tour is great for people who don't want to choose their own itinerary, as the iHop bus staff will help you out! They provide you with recommendations and drop you off right at the winery. We prefered to do our own tour as there's more flexibility to stay as long as you want and go wherever you want. We also found that the iHop tour was a bit restrictive with timing, and when the tour bus picked us up from our last winery, we could have actually fit in one more winery (but were told we couldn't).
Years 1 and 2: A rural country-home style AirBnb in Mountview
Year 3: A suburban HomeAway home in Cessnock
The Mount View country house was amazing for a few reasons.
1. There was no phone reception, so we were forced to disconnect with technology and connect with each other. Games, wine, BBQ, friends
2. The views! The surrounds were beautiful and we were treated to visits by some Australian wildlife.
3. The location. The secluded location really helped it feel like an ideal weekend away.
The Cessnock suburban home was ideally located near local shops and supermarkets, and was close enough to our iHop route that we could be picked up from our accommodation. It also had a pool, which would be great in the summer!
The Hunter Valley plays host to some of the best wineries, and the region is widely regarded for its Semillon, as well as red varietals. My personal favourites are sparkling and rose! Thankfully the Hunter have these as well.
My favourite wineries?
Krinklewood is set in a beautiful location, complete with peacocks! Their wines are biodynamic and delicious. My two personal favourites are their rose and Semillon.
Peterson House Sparkling is famous for one of my favourites - sparkling wine! It's a larger winery, so there's plenty of space to do tastings. They also have a restaurant, however if you want to stay for lunch, it's best to book ahead as they're very often fully booked. If you just want nibbles, you can sit out on the verandah, enjoy the views, wine and platters.
Where are your favourite places in the Hunter Valley?