New South Wales produces some cheeky wines in a region called Hunter Valley, west of Newcastle. Like most wine growing areas, the scenery is pretty special with lush rolling hills, immaculately groomed vines and big bunches of grapes hanging heavy in the foliage.
Obviously there's some serious alcopop to be necked so that rules out driving yourself around the wineries. You could take a bus tour but you'll more than likely be tied to their agenda which may be a bit restrictive. The active option is to hire some bikes and zig-zag from one drinking hole to the next ... hooray!
We hired some tandems from Mark at Hunter Valley Cycling (who now delivers them to your hotel by van). Once kitted up we peddled five minutes around the corner to McGuigan's house of cheese for a cholesterol fix and a few schnifters. Splendid! This routine continued for the rest of the day and a thoroughly enjoyable outing was had by all. The wineries are plentiful so there's not too much peddling between stops and the tasting assistants are friendly and generous with their pouring. Definitely recommend it!
Also below is a slideshow from Hunter Valley Gardens which turned out to be a very pleasant way to spend a morning on a nice sunny day. Keep an eye out for the half-price vouchers in the Hunter Valley freebie magazines.
By Darrell Grundy - visited on 19 January 2008