Travelling, Wine & Covid…
Hi guys, it’s definitely been a while.
Like most people around the globe, Karen and I have been locked down over the past few months due to Covid and to be honest, although we had a lot of pre-recorded to content to share with you all, it was hard to know if was appropriate to post travel and dining content during these challenging times.
Although it seems like we still have a long way to go in defeating this covid pandemic, Karen and I are now comfortable to recommence sharing our travel stories and information and encouraging our viewers, where it is safe to do so, of course, to visit the wonderful destinations that we share with you on our channel.
This post and video is the promised part 2 of our Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door Guide and although its is now been many months since our visit, the information is still very relevant and it will definitely help you to plan your next visit to the Hunter Valley wineries, great cellar doors and wonderful dining venues.
As we really want to support businesses in regional Australia, we will be heading back to the Hunter valley Wineries in August, so we will be releasing part 3 of our Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door Guide over the coming weeks. Following this will be heading to other regional centres to promote their fine food and wine offerings as well. So in short, although there is not any international destinations currently scheduled for the coming months, we are looking forward to showcasing a lot more of what we have in “our own back yard”, in regional Australia.
So sit back, relax and grab a glass of good Hunter Valley wine, as we finally join Pippa and her fantastic team at Hunter Valley BOUTIQUE Wine Tours as they expertly guide us through some of the best boutique wineries in the Hunter Valley.
Cheers & Stay Safe and Well
John & Karen
Day 3 (Hunter Valley BOUTIQUE WINE TOUR)
Following a restful night’s sleep at the Wine Country Tourist Park, We enjoyed an outstanding breakfast at the nearby Cafe Enzo that is praised for its unique ambience and enchanting courtyard.
Cafe Enzo offers excellent coffee, food and service making it a must do when visiting the Hunter Valley. Set in the Tuscan inspired Peppers Creek Village in the heart of the Hunter Valley, it is wonderful experience to enjoy breakfast sourced from local produce in the sun, in the courtyard.
The highlight here was the Ham Breakfast Board — consisting of generous offerings of poached eggs, bershire ham off the bone, avocado, binnorie feta, roast cherry tomatoes, pistachio red pesto, served with freshly made sourdough.
After breakfast, we were met by our friendly driver from Hunter Valley BOUTIQUE Wine Tours, that picked us up promptly at 9:30am for our Boutique Wine Tour of the Hunter Valley.
Our first stop for the morning on our Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Tour was at Capercaillie Wines, Capercaillie located on 16 hectares in the Lovedale sub-region of the Hunter Valley and named after the Gaelic black wood-lands grouse, native to the pine forests of Scotland.
As a premium boutique winery, it has earnt a reputation for producing fine Hunter Valley Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz innovative Chambourcin and Petit Verdot blends.
We enjoyed our relaxed tastings at Capercaillie and our wine of choice here was their full bodied 2016 Capercaillie Regional Merlot.
After leaving Capercaillie, it was a short drive to Degen Hunter Valley Aged Single Vineyard Wines. A family owned enterprise, Thomas and Jean first planted out the vineyard in 2001 and opened their stunning Cellar Door in September 2013.
The Degen’s Vineyard, Cellar Door and luxury Vine Stay provides a new standard to cellar door hospitality and vineyard stays on their beautiful 54 acre property in Pokolbin. On reflection, its less of a cellar door experience and more like the opportunity to share good wine with friends in their home.
Degen Wines the smallest commercial vineyard in the Lower Hunter Wine Region, and specialises in premium quality Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon and proudly produce single vineyard wines.
Everything they do is on a small scale. As Thomas and Jean proudly state to their visitors, “we want to be great at being small”.
We really enjoyed our time at Degen and being on the receiving end of Thomas and Jean’s warm hospitality. Their wine is delightful as well, with our favourites being the Degen Sparkling Semillon and the 2018 Degen Shiraz.
Our next tasting was at Tinklers Vineyard. Tinklers is a family owned and operated vineyard, winery and cellar door that produce award winning single vineyard wine in small batches.
Their rustic property features a beautiful hardwood cellar door that’s nestled beneath century old peppercorn trees that resonate the long family history in Pokolbin and the regional tradition of Hunter Valley wine making.
Our wine tasting was centred around a huge hardwood bar top and due to the quality of the wines tasted and the reasonable prices offered at the Cellar Door, we left the tasting with a number of cases of their very drinkable Lucerne Paddock Verdelho and U&I Shiraz.
By now we were starving, and it was perfect timing to grab some lunch. If you have read many of our other wine tour posts, you would be very aware that our most favourite food during a big day of wine tasting is a well-made pizza. This was discussed with Pippa while we were putting together our Hunter Valley BOUTIQUE Wine Tour and she promised that she knew the perfect place to take us.
BAUME restaurant is located at the OLD Lindemans winery and is now called the BEN EAN. Recently acquired by the McGuigan and Peterson families, they are committed to returning the property to its historical roots and maintaining and developing the estate as a salute to some of the best-known viticulturists and winemakers of the last 170 years in the Hunter.
The team have done an outstanding job to bring the Winery & Vineyard back to its former glory after extensive refurbishment to the Cellar Door, Restaurant, Function, Still House & Winery areas.
Apart from the pending pizza (we were starving, remember) we were looking forward to for lunch, we were immediately due to the venues substantial wine tasting area, which allowed you to try wines on their menu before ordering a glass or bottle during your meal. After several generous tastings we settled on a bottle of 2014 Andevine ‘Reserve Pinot Shiraz’ and found our reserved seats in the massive main dining area.
Although the entire menu looked magnificent, we ‘stuck to our guns’ and ordered one of Baume’s legendary extra-large Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom and Parsley 40cm pizza. Their pizza dough is made in house and left to prove for three days giving a lighter feel, it is then hand rolled and baked in their imported traditional Moretti pizza oven to give an authentic flavour.
The pizza, wine and atmosphere was great, but before leaving the venue after finishing our lunch, there was definitely one more experience we wanted to check out. A Penfolds Grange tasting area has been established in the centre for anyone wanting to try one of Australia’s best and most expensive wines.
At Macquariedale Organic Wines they follow a passion for natural winemaking, specialising in converting small parcels of grapes into organic, biodynamic, low preservative, vegan-friendly, natural wines.
In 2005 Macquariedale Organic Wines became the first vineyard in the Hunter Valley to receive full Biodynamic Certification, which means all products used in the vineyard are all natural and do not contain synthetic chemicals, herbicides, pesticides or systemic chemicals.
We really enjoyed talking to the winemakers during our visit to Macquariedale as they shared their passion for organic wines and the long-term health benefits.
We left the vineyard with ample bottles of their MacBlush Rose, Unwooded Chardonnay and Liquid Christmas Cake Dessert Wine.
Our final tasting for the day was at Allandale Winery.
Established in 1978, Allandale Winery is known for their distinguished boutique wines made from their own and carefully selected vineyards in the Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange, Hilltops, Tumbarumba, Wrattonbully, Goulburn Valley, Barossa Valley, and McLaren Vale.
In the 1970s, a group of friends purchased 30 acres of land in the Lower Hunter Valley wine growing area in what was then known as Allandale, now Lovedale.
By 1978 the winery/cellar door was built on the hill which overlooks 17 acres of plantings of Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and captures the stunning views over the Lower Hunter and Brokenback Mountain Range.
Those views came in very handy during our wine tasting as we watched the thunderstorms roll across the Hunter Valley as we enjoyed our wine and company.
Allandale Winery has built a reputation over almost four decades as one of Australia’s premium Chardonnay producers and more recently as one of Australia’s best producers of Semillon. On leaving the cellar door we bought a mixed case of 2010 Semillon and 2017 Reserve Chardonnay.
After our final tasting, Pippa returned us back to the Wine Country Tourist where we unpacked the days purchases from our mini bus, stocked up the car with the weekends takings and then enjoyed a quite dinner, accompanied by a couple bottles of great Hunter wine purchased during our terrific long weekend.
The following day started at 10:30am after a well deserved sleep in before enjoying Sunday Brunch meal al fresco style on the spacious deck overlooking the picturesque dam at the Deck Cafe in Lovedale, before we headed back home that afternoon.
The Deck Cafe Lovedale is a Stylish Cafe/Tapas Bar, located at Gartelmann Wines. The Deck Cafe Lovedale provides a diverse and delightful style breakfast menu daily, followed by an inspiring Tapas Style menu for Lunch and Dinner Friday Saturday Nights, complimented by Gartelmann wines.
Karen and I both ordered the Deck’s Big Breakfast that included huge portions of grilled sour dough, poached eggs, American streaky bacon, chipolatas, herb roasted field mushrooms, hash brown, roasted vine ripened tomato and “MP” smokey bbq sauce.
It was delicious and filling and we both appreciated the quality Piazza D’oro coffee served with our meals.
Definitley the perfect way to say goodbye to the Hunter Valley before starting our journey home.
Our Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door Guide Wrap Up
We hope that the second part of our guide to the Hunter Valley wineries, cellar doors and dining venues and the accompanying Hunter Vineyards travel video will assist you in planning the perfect get away to the Hunter Valley Region.
A huge thanks to Pippa and her professional team at Hunter Valley BOUTIQUE Wine Tours for a wonderful day exploring the magnificent wineries that were personally chosen for us. We really appreciated the informative commentary while travelling through the vineyards and the lunch Pippa organised for us was a highlight of the day.
So, if you want to explore some of the best boutique cellar doors that Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region has to offer, please contact Pippa at: https://www.huntervalleytours.com.au/contact-us
Don’t forget to check out Part One of our Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door Series – “Our Guide To The Best Cellar Doors, Vineyards And Dining In The Hunter Valley Wine Region”
If you enjoyed our video of the Hunter Valley cellar doors, please check out these popular related videos:
Part One of our Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door Series – “Our Guide To The Best Cellar Doors, Vineyards And Dining In The Hunter Valley Wine Region”
Guide to the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale Wine Regions – https://youtu.be/nKgL9bx_EQI
Ageing Barrels – Coal River Valley Tasmania Wine Tour – https://youtu.be/tcqx7OO4v3U
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John & Karen