Saturday, October 17, 2015

travel diary: hunter valley.

Postcards from Hunter Valley aka wine country.

For my birthday this year I decided to take a three day solo road trip up to Hunter Valley and enjoy the wine country.
It was my first every solo trip and I loved it (more about solo trips soon!).

I stayed at the Hunter Valley Resort which overlooked rolling greens, which doubled as my backyard (see the sunset and sunrise photos below).
Hunter Valley Resort shares a property with the Matilda Bay Brewhouse which offers a good selection of food, and a beer paddle which I had on my first evening there.

During my stay I hit up a few different places for tastings --
First off was the Smelly Cheese Factory which housed some amazing cheeses! I struggled to limit my purchases but ended up going with a triple camembert and a garlic & sundried tomato infused feta (which dwindled down to half by the time I actually finished my trip and returned to Sydney!).

The second place I checked out was Pukara Estate who make a huge selection of earthy olive oils and delicate vinegars. Once again I limited myself to selection I tasted in the line up because honestly, the names of the choices I had I knew, if I could, I would've walked out with once of each!
(I ended up taking home with me the Truffle and Garlic Olive Oil and the Red Wine Balsamic Vinegar.)

Next on my hit-list for the Hunter Valley was the Hunter Distillery - the only non-wine yet still alcohol related places you can find in Pokolbin.
I didn't do any alcohol tastings while I was in the Hunter Valley this time round other than this one (I had previously done the wine tasting where I was staying at the Hunter Valley Resort).
The Hunter Distillery was a refreshing change to all the wineries you see on your drive in.
The Hunter Distillery offer a great range of gin, vodkas and liqueurs.
Now, I had recently gotten into drinking gin & tonics but thanks to Tristan who took me through my tasting I now love my gin on the rocks (I subsequently bought a bottle of their house gin and paired it with just a wedge of lime and rose petals, pictured - but recommended straight with crushed ice!)
I also tried a variety of the vodkas the Distillery had to offer. Now, you have to understand that I've only ever had vodka straight once and I thought I would never do it again, until now.
I tried the caramel vodka which was absolutely divine! It's one of their best sellers and I can definitely understand why! The best way to describe it? It was like having butterscotch liqueur but smooth like vodka, none of that thickness.
Next I tried the coffee vodka, which was equally as amazing, tasted just like a double shot espresso. They actually collaborated with Onyx Coffee and infused real coffee with their vodka, which is where the difference lies!
Lastly I tried the Apple which had a sweet tone with a subtle kick of vodka.
What did I learn? The better the quality of the spirit the easier it is to drink straight. 

All in all, this trip to the Hunter Valley revealed one thing - I'm more of a country girl that I realised.
But more on solo trips and that revelation soon!

- margaret

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