A Hunter Valley Wine Tour including Cheese, Chocolate & Organic Vodka with Zepher Tours
The early morning start saw the wake of daylight as we waited at YHA Central for a 7.45am pick up. The Hunter Valley wine tour was going to be lengthy, but fortunately, Zepher tours encourages us participants to become friends with each other from the start, since we will be together for a whole day. This friendly atmosphere definitely set the ‘fun’ for the rest of the Hunter Valley day trip from Sydney. The tour guide Stu arrived with the minibus and we all set off on our Hunter Valley wine tasting tour adventure. As we crossed the famous Anzac bridge, Kur-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, and along the stretching highways, Stu entertained us with some interesting facts about Australia, such as eucalyptus trees, koalas and the Aboriginal history, as well as some rather outrageously corny jokes! It was still great, nonetheless.
WINE TASTING WITH A VIEW
Arriving approximately 10.30am at our first Hunter Valley winery, Sandalyn Wilderness estate, we were welcomed by a beautiful view of the cottage-like property. Here, we began with some exotic oil tasting. I know it sounds a bit weird, but it was actually a great experience to warm up those taste buds! With a few slices of bread to place into the different small bowls of oil, we enjoyed tasting academia, honey, apple, lime and other wonderful flavours. We then moved on to their collection of estate winery and sipped a bit of their brew – delicious! Of course, we didn’t leave without purchasing a few bottles our taste buds were attracted to, and capturing a few snaps around the gorgeous estate.
BINNORIE CHEESE FACTORY – SAY “CHEESE” PAM!
The third stopover arrived at the Binnorie Cheese Factory, just across the road from Hermitage. But before landing here, Stu told us that one of the workers doesn’t like to smile yet has a singing voice of the heavens. With this in mind, he challenged us to “make Pam smile”. As we got there, we instantly recognized who this mysterious employee was and realized that nothing could have been truer: she didn’t once crack a smile. That was until a few of the Zepher girls sweet-talked their way to Pam and, out of the blue, she began laughing her head off! It was so surprising! Her smile glistened right to the heavens and she even gave us a listen to her renowned angelic voice – she was extravagantly operatic! (I would tell you the sweet-talk between Pam and the girls, but that’s a secret! I’ll leave you to the imagination of how you could complete the challenge when you’reon this tour with Zepher! . From then on, the ball was rolling and we had an absolute blast. We tasted their cheese range from vintage cheddar, marinated fetta, buche de chevre, to the Binnorie brie and more. Then, the workers challenged us to try their world famous Chili sauce to which only one volunteered to do so. He courageously took the small scoops to his palate but his face was astonishingly left unchanged. It was a miracle compared to Stu’s own prior experience where he choked up outside the factory!
VODKA MEETS SCIENCE
The Hunter Vodka distillery was the next destination during the Hunter Valley wine tour. The recently opened distillery is a new venture for Hunter Valley. They are currently the only vodka distillery here, which is interesting, considering the vast majority are winery boutiques. It was a great experience to have toured around the distillery and receive a few chemistry lessons about how vodka is made. The pleasant flavours for testing ranged from ginger, lime, mango, choc mint, coffee, chili, butterscotch, and to my personal favourite, strawberry. Of course, all of the flavours were purchasable on the spot, just like all the Hunter Valley wine tasting opportunities.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT IN THE HUNTER VALLEY
Our fourth stop led us to the delightful Hunter Valley chocolate company shop. We arrived with a sampling of their unique chocolate flavours, such as white fudge, chili bark, chocolate rocks, among others. The shop allowed us to see their available flavours in many different forms, and, quite honestly, it was heaven, even for the oldest of adults! I’m sure you will find a flavor that would marry well with your taste buds! And what was also wonderful was that we had free fudge tasting. Imagine the abundant array before our eyes: chocolate explosion, cherry ripe, caramel slice, custard tart, cookies and cream, macadamia, tropical watermelon and so much more. Yum!
FINISHING THE HUNTER VALLEY WINE TASTING TOUR IN STYLE
The final Hunter Valley wine tour stopover was at the luscious Savannah Estate at around 3.30pm. It was a bittersweet ending but we definitely finished in style. The Savannah wine connoisseur took us in a private room for a sit down wine tasting in order to truly engross ourselves in the whole experience. The connoisseur gave the estate’s special winery tips and recommendations of ways to consume different wine. We went through an organized tasting, beginning with their palatable whites, then pleasant reds, and finally the popular rosés (including the ever enjoyable Moscato!). They even treated us with a complimentary cheese and crackers going through each bottle! Perhaps, however, they saved the best brew for last – the Savannah Estate Reserve Muscat. It had a similar essence to butterscotch that was only recognizable once swallowed. To achieve this divine taste, the liquor should rest on the palate for 30 seconds before running it down – follow these instructions and you will find heaven, my friend.
Overall, the Zepher’s Hunter Valley Wine, Cheese, Vodka and Chocolate Tasting Tour is a compelling opportunity to discover the dynamic aspects that Hunter Valley has to offer on a day trip from Sydney. It is a complete package that anyone (yes – anyone!) can find to enjoy; take it from me who never fancied wine until I found the love of my life, Six Degrees Semillion. I would therefore suggest you to give Hunter Valley wine tours a go, and you could make new friends and perhaps taste the ‘love of your life’ along the way.