I am on a 7 week holiday. Currently I am in Sydney and yesterday I took a Wine Tasting Tour to the Hunter Valley using BoutiqueTours Australia at www.boutiquetoursaustralia.com.au I booked via the internet and got an $11 discount off the standard tour. I received an email confirmation with hotel pickup for 7:40am. The driver, James, picked me as well as all the other tour participants up from our respective hotels. He was prompt and friendly as he greeted me at my hotel lobby. The coach was a 14 psgr Mercedes that was very comfortable and clean. After picking up everyone, we were off to the Hunter Valley via the Sydney Harbor Bridge. He gave us a bit of information while driving about what we were going to do over the day, including lunch options (if you had not pre-purchased lunch). James told us that we would visit the Iron Gate Winery first (this would be the only pre-set winery that we would visit)... at around 10:30 or so, and that if there were any wineries that we specifically wanted to visit to tell him when we had a rest stop about 2/3 of the way to the Hunter Valley. We could suggest any winery and he would arrange it if possible. Boutique Tours do not usually visit any of the large commercial wineries, like Lindeman's. He then played an informational DVD on wine making, and wine tasting that was very helpful over the course of the day. At Iron Gate we were greeted by the wine presenter and the winery owner for the presentation of 7 wines. You can drink the entire wine sample given or not. Water was provided to rinse your glass and mouth between each different wine. Each wine was presented with information about the wine and what to expect from it. The presenters were very receptive to questions from us. If you wanted to buy any of the wines, it was handled promptly and James labeled all the bottles, and put them into the van storage area for us while we were on the winery tour, the part where the wines are produced. These are the 'vats' the wine is made in. American Oak barrels for aging the wine. This was an excellent introduction to the region.