On her third trip to Australia, made a beeline to the Hunter Valley to enjoy a two-day country getaway. The couple, from Virginia, USA, was blown away by all the region has to offer.
What did you uncover in Wine Country that surprised you?
I was surprised by the dozens of cows we saw as we drove around the Hunter Valley. I didn’t know it was home to livestock and farms as much as it is to vines, and I loved the country views and atmosphere.
When visiting the Hunter Valley, what did you discover that you didn’t know before?
I love sweeter wines, but I’d never heard of a Botrytis wine until I noticed them at cellar doors we visited. We purchased a Botrytis Semillon from Hungerford Hill and another from Margan to enjoy back in the United States.
Any local activities you would recommend to a friend?
I learned so much during the guided vine experience at Hunter Valley Resort. We began outdoors with an interactive discussion about the vines themselves, then moved indoors and learned about the differences in how white and red wines are made. I gained much more from the tour than I was expecting.
What’s your favourite thing about Wine Country?
I’ll always remember how relaxed and at home I felt in the Hunter Valley. It’s not always easy to truly be in holiday mode but, unexpectedly, it was the one time during our three-week holiday when I was completely at ease – all before wine-tasting!
What do you like most about Hunter Valley wine?
I wasn’t a red-wine drinker until I lived in Australia for a year in 2010-2011. I found I enjoyed almost every Shiraz I tried in South Australia, so I was very much looking forward to tasting Shiraz in the Hunter Valley on this trip. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the peppery, spicy characteristics of a Hunter Shiraz, and can still recall the hints of black pepper from my favourite, at Tamburlaine.
What was your most memorable food experience?
My favourite was our lunch at The Cellar Restaurant. I have several food allergies and chose to make a reservation when I found their online menu to be the most allergy-friendly I came across. The lamb cutlets were so full of flavour, and our side orders were more than generously portioned. Plus, with a table by the fire and attentive, friendly staff, the meal was everything I wanted it to be.
The best part of a Hunter Valley getaway?
The best part for me was the feeling I had as we began passing by farmland and vineyards. Even though I’d already been on holiday for a week and a half before arriving in the Hunter Valley, I realised that part of me had not fully relaxed until the cities were behind us and open fields surrounded us. It truly felt like a holiday within a holiday – something I didn’t expect but very much welcomed.
If you could invite anyone to the Hunter Valley for a weekend, who would it be and why?
Aside from my husband Gavin, with whom I enjoyed the two-day getaway, I would invite my youngest sister Katie for a girls’ weekend. We both experienced Australia for the first time together in 2006, and we love exploring the wineries in our home of Virginia, USA.