Sydney Tour --- Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour --40 tastes in 6 hours!

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by secretsea18, Jul 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    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.
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    You can drink the entire wine sample given or not. Water was provided to rinse your glass and mouth between each different wine.
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    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.
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    These are the 'vats' the wine is made in.
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    American Oak barrels for aging the wine.
    This was an excellent introduction to the region.
     
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  2. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    We then visited Savannah Winery,
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    That is the bottle of port that I bought there!

    where we received another excellent presentation of their wines by John.
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    We tasted a total of 11 wines there! Including 3 wines marked "not for tasting"!

    Again an excellent presentation.

    Next up was lunch. (Thank goodness!)

    I opted for the "cafe" lunch. The item that seemed best was the highly recommended (and huge) cheese plate, but as it was available only for 2 persons ($15 each person), I opted for fish and chips. You might opt for the sandwiches, which looked better. The lunch break offered a bit of free time to enjoy a chocolate shop, and a liquor shop.
     
  3. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    The McGuinan Winery is located at the lunch stop, so stepped in for a taste there.
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    It seem that they have won quite a few awards for their wines in the last 11 years... and the lady presenting to us (don't remember her name now) even presented a few of the rather expensive bottles... (> $50 at the cellar door).
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    our presenter

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    Winery Cellar Door display.... including some $500/bottle wines available!
     
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  4. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Next up was the Ernest Hill Winery. All the wineries are close by with the vines in the fields by the roadside. We wasted no time getting over here, but passed by scenery like this!
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    As you can see it was a glorious day, although the air temps were chilly.

    At the Ernest Hill Winery we were greeted by Ross, the father of the father & son owner team.
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    He gave an excellent presentation of the wines they make, and information about how they decided to name the wines (in memory of deceased relatives!). They bought the winery in 1999, and did some 'fixing up' until they produced wine in 2002. That first year they won a gold medal for the best wine in that varietal! Not bad on their first try!

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    The tasting menu (although we had 2 additional that were not on the list!)

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    This is the taste of the Cracklin'Rose 2011.... a yummy pink Shiraz. Really nice and a beautiful color!

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    The wine being poured.

    Interestingly, for all our 14 tastes... less than 1/2 of a bottle was poured... (Thank goodness, too!)

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    Outdoor seating area for tasting?! or just resting at Ernest Hill winery.

    Then off to the next winery!
     
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  5. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    The day was rounded out with a stop at the Peterson House --- to sample sparkling wines.

    At this place, we tasted ~ 5 or 6 sparking wines (our presenter was Ross's wife!) And all they had on offer were sparking wines. I have no pictures at this point, as we did not have a long enough presentation or visit... it was sort of on borrowed time, as we had eclipsed the usual tour length, but the guide/driver James was insistent that we visit here too! (Good on him!)

    Some in the group bought 'pink champagne' to drink in the coach on the ride back to Sydney --- particularly the two Norwegian men (military guys)--- whom we teased about drinking pink champagne and being Vikings! :p They as did everyone on the tour had a fabulous time on the tour!

    We then departed back to Sydney, and I got back to my CBD hotel at ~ 7:30pm..... about 12 hours after I was picked up.

    You can expect an excellent value for your money on this tour. The is no sales pressure by any of the wineries. The presenters were all pleasant and provided great information about each of their wines, and it was easy to see that they took pride in the wines they make and sell.
    Wear comfortable clothing and shoes... you are standing at many of the wineries. And leave the kids at home... this is an adult activity!
    Salute!

    • Visited July 2011
     
  6. savydog
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    savydog Gold Member

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of trip reports. This subject is one I have a lot of interest in, thank you for sharing the details, photos and your thoughts :)
     
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  7. Mangy
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    Mangy Gold Member

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    Thx for that. Very nice report and informative.
     
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  8. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Thanks for the comments.... I thought the tour was fantabulous! :)
     
  9. Chimpy
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    Chimpy Gold Member

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    Thanks secretsea, I love the wine photographs. :)
     
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  10. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Glad you liked it, Chimpy.
     
  11. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Great report SS. :)
     
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  12. Horse
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    Horse Gold Member

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    Lovely trip report, secretsea. Wish I went too!
     
  13. Concerto
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    Really enjoyed reading about your wine tour (a favourite topic of mine!) and, of course, always enjoy your photos!! :)
     
  14. NYBanker
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    Great post. Thanks for sharing. I know taking pictures generally falls in priority as more wine pours.

    Are you going to Barossa as well? Or Kangaroo Island?
     
  15. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Not this trip....

    I already spent about a week in Queensland, and following this excursion to Sydney to visit more friends, I will be back to Singapore (monday) and then heading off to Indonesia... where I will resume my diving! :p
     
  16. NYBanker
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    Ahhh....I now see your signature line. Quite a trip. Enjoy!
     
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  17. MSPeconomist
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    It seems easy to return to Sydney late after Hunter Valley wine tasting. When I went with a group at the end of a conference (not as elegant as your tour--we had a big bus), we returned to Sydney six hours late, around midnight, and I had an early (domestic) flight the next day. I enjoyed seeing the Hunter Valley scenery too after a week in central Sydney. Our trip included a late lunch at an Italian restaurant on the grounds of one of our wineries. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
     
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  18. flamingo

    flamingo Gold Member

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    There is a fare on sale ..

    http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/australia-new-zealand/us/en?rgn_cam=us:qf:QTS044

    Visit 2 countries for 1 price - Australia and New Zealand!
     
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  19. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Thanks for a great report.

    While I've been to several aussie wine regions for wine tours I'm ashamed to admit I haven't been to the hunter valley. Thanks for reminding me I need to go.
     
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