On a cold Sydney morning, we were excited to escape the bustle of the city, and jumped on an amazing Hunter Valley Wine Tour with Zepher Tours. Having previously been up to the Hunter once and loved it, we were really excited at the opportunity to visit again and sample the delicious food, wine and cheese.
As a summary, we had an absolutely amazing time. By the end of the tour, we felt that we not only knew more about the Hunter, but had also experienced it properly. We would recommend a tour with Zepher to both Sydney-siders and tourists in a heartbeat.
The tour began on a sunny morning at 7:40am at Wynyard Station. Consisting of a group of 12 people, and Raphael, our funny and informative tour guide, we quickly got to know everyone else.
After the drive up to the Hunter, our first stop was at Allandale, a boutique winery. One of their winemakers gave us an alfresco wine tasting, with a range of whites, reds and dessert wines on offer, each paired with matching chocolates. During the process, he explained to us the difference between each of the wines, what to look for in different vintages and what makes up the taste of the wines.
During the tour you will get the opportunity to try a bit of everything and find the wines that you really love. Some of the wine was so impressive that we immediately bought a bottle of their famous dessert wine to bring back to Sydney!
After Allandale, we dropped into the Smelly Cheese Shop, where we were lucky enough to do a cheese sampling with flavours as exotic as feta, garlic and basil and others. Each of these were incredible and, once again, we fell to the temptation and bought some of the cheese too – we were building quite the feast.
Our next stop was Hope Estate, which is a large winery that also hosts many concerts including bands as famous as the Rolling Stones. We were taken around to their large brewing areas, and also had the opportunity to try some different wines.
We also had lunch at the restaurant on Hope Estate, the awarded Harvest Restaurant. Having a lovely airy balcony with an incredibly natural view, it created the perfect scene for our three course lunch.
For the entrée, we had a watermelon salad with goat’s cheese and cherry tomatoes, which was as refreshing as it was tasty. For the main, we had grilled chicken and polenta, which was perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The polenta added an extra dimension to the dish and some much needed warming richness for the chilly day! Finally, for dessert, we had the coconut panna cotta, which was soft and creamy and the perfect way to end our lovely meal – such a highlight!
Feeling quite full, the next stop on our adventure was at the Hunter Valley Distillery, which was truly an experience. At the Distillery, they make many flavours of spirits such as Chocolate Vodka, Apple Vodka, Mango Liqueur and Butterscotch Schnapps. They were served to us in test tube mini-shots, and as each flavour tasted exactly like what it purported to be, this was one for the memory books.
By now, we had tried a delectable range of foods and wines, and were ready for something sweeter. Raphael had exactly what we needed – a stop at the Chocolate Factory. They had prepared a set of samples for us to try, and once again, we ended up wanting more and made some purchases!
Finally, we arrived at our final stop, which was at Lucy’s Run, a boutique vineyard. Named after the original owners’ dog, Lucy’s Run definitely had a vibe of being homely and friendly. We tried a variety of wines across different vintages, alongside a tasting of dukkah, zataar and cheeses, and heard about how they grow their grapes, and the passion they have for their art.
As is clear from the account above, we were genuinely impressed with the Hunter Valley tour and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in wine, or even just wants to get to know the Hunter a little better than they do. The tour was a nice combination of learning and experiencing, and we would definitely take a similar tour again. For more details, please see: http://www.zephertours.com.au/hunter-valley-wine-tours-gourmet-lunch-cheese-chocolate-organic-vodka-tasting/
Note: The Khana was invited as a guest of Zepher Tours.