This weekend we ventured to the Hunter Valley and through experience we return with some wine and some simple advice for your trip.
For this trip we decided to stay at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. It is located right across the road from the information centre and mini airport and is a great starting point for your tours. The Crowne Plaza also has a few fantastic facilities which will make this couples trip or mancation a great choice.
The rooms are a plenty, lots of simple hotel style rooms in the main building and plenty of larger villas surrounding the inner area of the golf course. We had a group of four and grabbed a two bedroom villa. It had a kitchen, two bathrooms, lounge area, dining as well as a neat alfresco area looking over the course. A nice view for the evening.
Besides heading out to taste the wine I would recommend a round of golf here, the course is gorgeous and well maintained. If it is warmer and golf isn’t your thing then the oversized pool might be your better choice, it is absolutely huge – which is great if there are a few wild kids about.
In the mornings it is hard to say no to the buffet, it has improved over the years. At around $40 per person it isn’t cheap however it includes everything you can think of, it’s like a street of food and drink stores all packed into one room. We did this buffet on the first day before our wine tasting but the next morning we opted for Cafe Enzo, a must do (and must book) venue in the Hunter for breakfast.
We drove up on the Friday from Sydney and honestly we find it quicker to go the “old” way there rather than take the second exit via the new Hunter Expressway. It is a great way to go for those traveling from Newcastle but if you’re coming from Sydney you’ll save time taking the first exit to the Hunter.
Some recommendations for meals:
- Restaurant Botanica: Some great food, most animals are listed on the menu in one area or another and the majority of the vegetables are grown onsite. I recommend the beef ravioli, it is insanely good. Take a look at the wine cellar while you’re there and order a few local wines to get you in the Hunter mood.
- Muse Kitchen: This restaurant is located downstairs from the Keith Tulloch Wines building and produces stunning, fresh meals out of their little kitchen. Booking is important however I really recommend the lamb shoulder for two (bring your appetite).
- Cafe Enzo: This breakfast venue is in an area where wine tasting can be had, a wedding may be happening, you may be shopping for antiques or roaming the vines. The small restaurant has an outdoor area you really want to sit in. The food is insanely good and those from Newtown/Surry Hills area will love the hipster vibe. Drinking out of jars, mismatched chairs, wonky tables and receiving your coffee rested on a children’s book are all quirks of a great little venue.
- Smelly Cheese Factory: Spend a lunch eating among some vines at a local winery and pick up some cheese, cold meats and crackers from this place. They have platters prepared and ready for you to buy. Grab a good wine, ask the winery for permission and enjoy a great lunch with the best backdrop.
For a few of our favourite wines in the area head over to our one day wine trippers guide to the Hunter here. The great part about making a weekend of it is being able to enjoy your wine in the evening without the drive back AND starting your wine touring first thing in the morning rather than a long drive from Sydney.