For those of you who don’t know, the Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s best-known wine regions – and visiting the vineyards or tasting the wines seems to be a must-do if you’re ever in NSW.
If you get the chance to take a weekend getaway, we highly recommend booking an AirBnB listing in Pokolbin or other nearby regions. We got a beautiful place in Largs, which was just a 20-30 min drive from the main wineries and also close to various beaches.
Obviously, we went to Hunter Valley primarily for the wines, so we booked a half-day tour with Two Fat Blokes Wine Tours. For just $65 each, we visited 3 wineries including a wine and cheese pairing experience (which was the best part in our opinion).
The tour began at a boutique winery with a list of 6 various fine wines for us to taste – by the end, though, we managed to try an extra 2 or 3 types of wines (reds, whites, and dessert)! We also learned some interesting facts; for example, although this boutique winery had won a number of awards for its wines, we were told that they could only produce 5000 bottles per year, whereas major wineries can produce the same amount in a minute!
It was hard to keep track of exactly how many glasses or what wine we were having – the tasting is extremely fast-paced, so if you’re not a dedicated wine-drinker, it’s okay to pour out your glass (we had to several times).
The second winery on the list was the cheese pairing experience, which was much needed after the first hour of liquids-only. We were taken to try a complete board of Hunter Belle Cheese, including a guide for matching various wines. You’re going to encounter some of the odd-tasting cheeses (unless you’re a Blue Cheese enthusiast), but the large majority are delicious – we even bought a jar of Labna (Middle Eastern-style cheese yoghurt balls) and the Triple Cream Briebelle. At this point, we weren’t so capable of drinking more than a sip of each wine, but the rest of our group were still going strong!
The third winery was Piggs Peake, where we had a full A4 sheet filled back and front with our taste list (we couldn’t count).
Two or more hours in and well over 15 glasses of wine already, we were more than done with drinking – not being huge drinkers in general, we really just wanted to get the full experience (or half-day experience, rather). Still, the Piggs Peake tasting is not one to miss, and we loved the final dessert wine with dark chocolate! We were also told that in February/March time, you could even try grape stomping and see how the wines are made.
Bottom line: there is A LOT of wine being served – much, much more than $65 worth. If you’re a wine lover, this will surely be your paradise. If you’re not, be prepared to spend 4 hours with more alcohol than you could imagine possible for a half-day tour. Hunter Valley is amazing for a peaceful and relaxing holiday, and the wine tours are something not to ignore. So, if you’re not a big drinker, you might want to consider just doing the cheese and wine pairing. Or, if you’re a huge fan of this kind of thing, you may want to try one of the full day tours!