Sideways to the Hunter Valley

Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

If we should ever want to become alcoholics we would spend our time in the Hunter Valley, for I'm sure they have courses (or perhaps a wine tour) to help you in this noble pursuit.  Perhaps we don't need the number for alcoholics anonymous just yet, but spending two days in the Hunter Valley has given us an appreciation for the nuances of the different wines in this region.
 
We headed from Tamworth to the Hunter Valley, first stopping to have some scones in Scone.  We arrived at the Hunter Valley Resort just as it was getting dark, freshened up, and headed for the San Marino restaurant where we began our initiation into the wine of the region.  A fair amount of the wine that heads its way overseas comes from the Hunter Valley, which is famous for its Semillons, its Shiraz's, but notably not its Pinot Noir, as the climate is too warm to grow that varietal of grape.
 
After dinner we headed back to our accommodation.  Flipping through the four channels on the TV revealed nothing much was on - well, nothing much in English, but strangely there was a Spanish Channel??   Then the power went out for four hours, which was caused by downed wires, or so the proprietors told us.  Melissa, the candle-addict, was overjoyed by this occurrence and immediately pulled out no fewer than eight candles that were packed in our luggage - Colin wasn't exactly surprised by this 'emergency lighting kit'.
 
Breakfast, at San Marinos, was shared with the same people from the night before - just different clothes this time.  We had signed up for a wine tour and were picked up at our hotel by our capable (and sober!) driver Paul.  As we got on the mini-bus we were greeted by loud boisterous cheers from the twenty or so soon to be 'wine experts' (and they hadn't even had anything to drink yet!).  This wine trip would involve visiting six different vineyards and one brewery, which on average would each offer us up to eight different samples over the day - we left at 9:30 and returned at 5:30.  That's a full days work for some, but when you love your work...  The wine tour was interesting, and we learned lots about wine.  For instance, roses are often grown at the ends of each row in the vineyards.  This is a tradition that began before the use of pesticides, when diseases such as blight would attack the rose bush prior to the grape plant.
 
We purchased a nice bottle of port, as well as a bottle which Colin decided to purchase as he remembered it from a previous visit - 1997 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz.  As this particular vineyard was not on our tour, it required him to cross a graveyard into the Brokenwood estate to make this purchase.  As he was returning a magpie, who was keeping watch over the graveyard, swooped down and required that he made a quick escape, or else he would end up in an unmarked grave.
 
Next up: big city living in Sydney.
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