You will be picked up from your centrally located hotel in Sydney and accompanied by an English-speaking guide, travel in a comfortable coach to Hunter Valley. On the journey, you will have the chance to enjoy an onboard DVD presentation about wine-tasting and the wine industry in the Hunter Valley and Australia.
The Hunter Valley is just 2 hours drive North of Sydney but a million miles away from the stress of city living. The Valley is Australia's oldest and one of its greatest wine areas, though it produces only a tiny proportion of the country’s wines – about 2 per cent. First established more than 150 years ago, it is home to some 80 wineries ranging from famous labels to very small 'boutique' winemakers. The Hunter Valley is renowned for its full-bodied white wines, 'medium weight reds' and some excellent ports.
Some of the vineyards belong to big name companies such as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy's, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan. Others, like Tyrells and Draytons, are very old Hunter Valley family concerns which have been there for several generations and remained independent.
The vineyards are a great source of food for local wildlife. As you travel along you are likely to get good views of native bush animals such as kangaroos.
Arriving in the Hunter Valley you will make a stop at Iron Gate Estate, a boutique winery. Here you will do a tasting, along with a behind-the-scenes tour of the wine-making process. This is the only regular venue on the tour. From here, the day is customized to suit the group. Feel free to suggest wineries or wine-styles you'd like to try, or rely on the expert knowledge of your guide to shape your day. There are over 80 Cellar Doors in the Lower Hunter Valley, so creating a special, memorable day won't be a problem.
Throughout the tour, you can expect to enjoy 3-5 formal wine-tastings as a group. There'll also be the chance for more tastings on your own over lunch. Or you may prefer to do some cheese-tasting, visit the chocolate shop, browse the shops and galleries, or simply laze under a gum tree.
At lunch time, you'll visit one of the Hunter's top award-winning restaurants – The Cellar Restaurant – for a two- course gourmet lunch including a glass of fine Hunter wine. Choose from a seasonally-changing menu featuring fresh local produce and gourmet choices. A sample menu is given below but please note that this is just to give you an idea and is likely to change.
Baskets of Morpeth Sourdough served with Hunter Olives and Seasonal Dips
Glass of house white or house red wine
Pan Fried John Dory with Ratatouille, Roast Tomato Sauce and Pesto, or
Roast Oregano Chicken Fillets with Greek Salad, Hunter Olives and Tzatziki, or Binnorie Fetta, Pimento & Pine nut Pithivier, or
Brick Pastry & Leek 'Cigars', Spiced Pumpkin and Preserved Lemon (vegetarian option), or
Salmon, Dill & Lemon Fish Cakes with Shaved Fennel and Gazpacho Vinaigrette, or
Prime Sirloin Steak with Sage Butter, Watercress Salad and Crispy Chips (Steak is cooked 'medium' only)
Classic Chocolate Marquis with Strawberry Syrup, or
Wine Glass Cheddar with Dates and Walnut Bread
After lunch, enjoy more tastings at the Hunter's fabulous wineries before a mid-afternoon drive back to Sydney. There'll be time to watch a film on the onboard TV, or to snooze away the day's indulgences! The onboard fridge has plenty of room to store your local purchases. You'll return to Sydney approximately 1800 h (6:00pm), with a complimentary drop-off to your city hotel or transit point.