Thursday, 6 August 2009

Hunter Valley II

On Ruth's final Saturday we headed up to the Hunter Valley for the day. Having visited the Hunter just over a month ago, I did the honourable brotherly thing and drove. Allowing Ruth to sample some wines.

We followed a similar circuit of vineyards to the one I travelled last time. It was a lot less busy which gave us a bit more time to talk to the wine makers. I was also wise to the fact that the food shopping options in the Hunter can be a bit limited, so we took a picnic.

Audrey Wilkinson is a picturesque start to the day. They were impressed to learn that we had been quaffing a bottle of theirs the previous evening. It was interesting to discover that they sell virtually all their wines from the cellar door, I didn't think that would be a big enough market.

Without doubt the highlight of the day was the tour we took at Tyrrells. For only $5 we got a one hour and forty five minute tour from one of the wine makers. We started in the vine yard where our guide went off on wild tangents, but did impart a few interesting facts about the Hunter Valley and how to grow good grapes.

Next we moved into the wine shed to see the machines that they use to extract the juice from the grapes and ferment the wine. We moved through to the rooms filled with row upon row of oak barrels. The less prestigious wines are kept in American oak and the top notch vintages are kept in French casks. Finally we ended up in the lab where they mix blends and analyse their competitors wine.

The final vineyard of the day was Mount Pleasant. Anyone who knows where I grew up will understand the obligatory photos.

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