When there’s three pigs in the back paddock named Chop Chop, Salami2 and Crackle, you get the feeling the night’s feast will be fresh. We spot the pig pen before walking into Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyards Estate in the Hunter valley but luckily don’t find out their names until after we’ve ordered.
Why bother wine when driving? I’ve always wondered why we do it. If you’re a couple or car-pooling, someone always draws the short straw as the designated driver. Yes, the idea of wine tasting is to sip and spit, but on all the trips I’ve taken to the Hunter Valley, there seems to be more of a “sit and savour” attitude to wine tasting. Throw in a few long lunches, because wineries seem to have the best restaurants these days, and you’re over the limit.
So who you gonna call? The GrapeMobile.
Driving north on a Friday afternoon, severe Sydney weather warnings at our back, we’re in no mood to stop until we reach the vine-studded hills of the Hunter Valley. I can already see them in my head, there’s an imaginary glass of wine in my hand and a hot tub on the horizon.
When we drive into Krinklewood Estate on a wet Hunter Valley morning, there’s a peacock posed majestically on a vine post. He sends out a bugle call, the screech heading out towards the Brokenback ranges. It’s answered from across the property, past the ivy-covered cellar door and vegie patch, by another peacock. As he ruffles his back feathers, I’m almost expecting to see Hugh Hefner walk out of the cellar door and lean on one of the giant urns at the end of the driveway. Krinklewood is a beautiful property; a Provence-style homestead and cellar door set next to a big wine-making barn. We could be at a high end estate in France or on the outskirts of Tuscany. Continue reading
In my experience, restaurants in the Hunter Valley like to sprawl out onto terraces overlooking the vines, or make themselves at home in large heritage cottages. Not this one. Brand new Boy-O-Boy is a bit different. Continue reading
There’s a hum in the Hunter this weekend. On Friday night it’s still low, a whisper on the wind, but by Saturday afternoon people are practically shouting from the rooftops. It’s time for the 17th Annual Good Weekend Opera in the Vineyards. And from what we overhear at the vineyards, restaurants and hotels around the valley, people have come back every year.