The weather finally broke – after a couple of weeks of relentless rain (wettest July in 60 years!) the sun shone through and Mick and I hit the road with friends Mary and Megan to visit the hunter Valley. Every time we go, we ask ourselves why we don’t do it more often as it’s only an hours’ trip and is so beautiful.
We started at the information centre where we ask advice for some nice little boutique wineries to visit (and of course, try the wine.)
First stop was Swish cellar door, famous for it’s Tin Soldier wines. They also have a range of olives, tapenade and olive oils. We sampled the whole range, as you do, and loaded up our boot with the purchases before heading to Gartelman’s winery.
Here we were regaled with tales about wine making and learned as we sampled his multi-award winning range. After loading up the car with a bit more wine (and some caramelised balsamic and hand made sweet chilli sauce), we were ready for lunch.
Potter’s brewery was once a brickworks and the old brick kilns still surround the pub and restaurant. We had a really lovely meal there, I had the lamb shanks which were beautiful and rich, Mick had gourmet pizza, Mary had a stuffed chicken breast and Megan had the pork belly (which comes close to giving me dish envy but not quite). Mick and I also have the four-beer tasting tray, of the ten craft beers on offer. Full and happy, we set off to the Tempus Two winery, home of the Smelly Cheese shop.
The shop lives up to its name, it is smelly. there is a refrigerated fromagerie with so many varieties of hard and soft cheeses, delicious cured meats and gourmet goodies that I am not quite sure how I will choose. We end up with some soft gorgonzola, Persian feta, Labne, triple cream brie and hot sopreso. Out in the store we get some gourmet lollies for the boys and head to the last winery of the day.
Our final stop is Moorebank winery, home of the famous Spicy Grape Sauce and also Sheila the sheep. Sheila comes into the shop for a little while to say hello. We sample and buy the wines, and also some of the lovely array of pickles and other condiments hand made on the premises. The Spicy Grape Sauce is a hit and we finish up at Moorebank with a lovely box full of goodies.
The sun is just about gone now, so we bundle up into the car and head home. And swear to come back again very soon!