Last month my BFFL living in Seoul came to visit and I whisked her away to NSW Wine Country – the Hunter Valley! More than any of the planning and payments, my biggest declaration of love for her was being the designated driver. I absolutely HATE driving and rarely do it, but I drove almost 600 kms in just two days and had to responsibly spit after each wine tasting (most of the time lol;;). Driving for the next year DONE!
I didn’t expect to have too much fun apart from quality time spent with the bestie, but I honestly had WAYYY more fun than expected! Not just the designated driver thing, but the idea of going on a wine tasting tour just sounded so tame and .. old. Something I’d enjoy once I’d hit my 30’s or something as I throw dinner parties and put my kids to bed by 9 lol. It was great to get away to the beautiful countryside, and because it was Autumn and past the busy summer season we never had to wait for tastings and had plenty of crisp, fresh air to drink in with our eyes and lungs. Roads were largely empty which was a huge plus for me. The vineyards did look a little bare but I loved the pockets of bright foliage and how cosy it was visiting each winery, warming up with their produce next to the fireplace in our cottage.
Even if you aren’t a huge wine drinker, it’s a lovely getaway not too far from Sydney CBD. There are a few cheese and chocolate makers around the area, and plenty of scenery and tranquility. Many of the vineyards double as wedding function centres as they have beautifully-maintained grounds. If you’re looking for peace, you’ll find it in moments here. Also you’d be surprised to find you’ll like a certain variety that you may not have tried before – for me it was discovering botrytis semillon! Mmmm, yummy fungusss.
One of the most fun things was discovering wineries. You have the well-known, award-winning ones, and small establishments that are local gems. The bestie and I enjoyed First Creek wine best out of all the places we visited and bought most of our wine from there, but we also loved Pokolbin Estate. Bestie loved it for their wines (totally suited her palate), I loved it for their on-premises Hunter Olive Centre, and we both loved it for Graham! He was so wonderfully knowledgeable and friendly, and has been working in the wine business since before we were born. We spent the most time there than any other winery by a mile, listening to him and picking his brain, and left far better educated and with an offer to come back and camp out on their gorgeous grounds. The Hunter Olive Centre is definitely worth a visit, too – they showcase a variety of local gourmet foods and for 50 cents you can get a small bag of white bread squares to try out various spreads, oils, marinades, olives, mmmmm.
I felt blessed indeed to have this precious time away to catch up and unwind with my bestie, and in such a beautiful backdrop. We truly do live in such a beautiful country.. and as much as goon-bags are a part of our Strayan heritage, I’d pick this sip trip instead any day!