I know my priorities. Which is why the first stop on our road trip was the Australian wine country. After driving right over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we headed north to a the heart of Hunter Valley to a small town called Pokolbin.
It was a gloriously blistering 36 degrees but it felt about a million.
We reached Pokolbin Village, a quirky collection of boutique shops and accommodation which was to be our home for the, oh-too-short, one night.
The room was to die for. When I get my own place, this is the bedroom I am going to recreate.
However, there was no time to be wasted admiring the room when there was wine waiting! So we headed out into the bright sunshine to hunt down some of the cellar door tastings we’d heard so much about.
We mapped out a route that would take us to four vineyards all within walking distance.
Was the first up, with a very understated driveway.
Being newbies at the whole cellar door thing, the chap in Tempest Two gave us the low down. The tastings are designed to show off the best of their vineyard that season. You tell them the wines you usually enjoy and they guide you through a few on the list that they think you might enjoy. You get to enjoy a splash of each one.
I know the proper way to taste wine is to spit it out but seriously? I don’t waste wine. End of story.
I like white, J likes red. So we ended up having two completely different tasting menus.
Tempest Two set the bar pretty damn high. Their Moscato was, I am not exaggerating, the nicest wine I’ve ever had in my life. I bought a bottle.
Turns out, by the time we’d driven all the way to Cairns where, on the last night of our road trip I wanted to drink said bottle, I unwrapped it to find the dude had given me THE WRONG ONE. I was furious. I sent an angrily worded email. They have still not responded. Humpf.
Cellar door number two was at a company you may well have heard of, Mcguigan Wines. They are the only company to have ever been named International Wine Maker of the Year four times.
There is a simple reason for that, they make damn good wine. And the extra good news (for those of you in the UK) you can buy their wine in Tesco – winning!
The thing that struck me in McGuigan’s was the passion of the staff. They were all crazy knowledgeable about every bottle in the place and they really cared about the company and the costumer experience, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable.
We ended up trying many-a-vintage, many of which had won various awards – who knew wine making was so competitive?
J came away with two bottles, that were enjoyed with many a BBQ in the days to come.
Next up was Brokenwood. This was actually my least favourite of the cellar door tastings we did which was unfortunate as it was also the only one we had to pay for, not much, but still.
I’m not sure what it was but all of their wines had quite a strong bite to them which left an unpleasant after taste. I just wasn’t a fan but each to their own!
Small Winemakers Centre
Last up, with only half an hour until closing time, we made a dashed to the, highly recommended, Small Winemakers Centre.
First of all, their air conditioning was incredible.
The lovely lady who was working there that day, who was clearly clock watching until her 5pm home time, did well to mask her disappointment when two (clearly amateur) expectant wine tasters presented themselves at 16:35.
The Small Winemakers Centre is slightly different to the other vineyards in the area in that it stocks a collection of individual boutique wine makers under one roof.
I really enjoyed the eclectic mix of wines I tried at this cellar door. What I enjoyed more however was, after explaining about the road trip that lied ahead of us, the amount of advice and tips we were able to pick up from our new mate.
She gave us tops tips about how to get a true authentic Australian experience and places we could visit that don’t usually feature on a tourist’s list.
We left our last stop of our Australian Wine Country tour with another bottle in hand and feeling a little tipsy from the many wines now forming a cocktail in my belly.
Feeling myself relaxing into the laid back Ozzie approach to life, we headed back to Pokolbin Village for a swim in the early evening sun and to make ourselves the first of many BBQs for dinner.
All in all we could not have asked for a better first stop on our adventure than Pokolbin, a jewel in the crown of the Australian Wine Country.