It's often hard to decide where to start when planning a visit to Wine Country, there's so many places to see, wines to sip, restaurants to dine in and gorgeous scenery to absorb.
So how do you make the most of your visit in our new world?
Whilst restaurants and Cellar Doors are now back to full capacity, Christmas is a busy time in the Valley. Most Cellar Doors have new offerings and experiences, and bookings are the best way to tick off the bucket list.
So what's the best approach?
Our local wine and tourism association website www.winecountry.com.au is a great place to start. It lists many of the businesses with their contact details and a includes a list of who is open/closed across this busy time.
Create a list of must-do's; include a few staples and add a few places that you haven't been before.
Think logistically, it can be quite a distance between venues, so allow travel time. A great approach is to carve the Valley up and target one "sub-region" or area per day. You might target the Lovedale area on day one, Around Hermitage on day two and Central Pokolbin on day three.
If you're looking to avoid the crowds, head to the roads less travelled, think Broke Fordwich, Mount View, Around Hermitage or Wollombi.
There's some great wine experiences on offer; cheese and wine pairing; vineyard walks, behind the scenes tours, picnic tastings or a deep dive into specific varietals. And then there's breweries, distilleries, local produce.....
Allow time to relax and enjoy yourselves, after all you're on holidays. So many people try to fit too much in, resulting in frustrations; missing out on their final booking (due delays along the way) and the ability to stop and take in a special view, or time to spot a kangaroo.
Restaurants - defintely book your restaurants. It's heart breaking seeing visitors in Cellar Door frustrated and hungry because they didn't book ahead. Restaurants, whether they have formal or casual offerings, are at a premium.Make sure you plan and book for all your meals.
What about the kids? Book some time at the Hunter Valley Zoo, Hunter Valley Gardens, Aqua Golf and to run and explore.
And your furry friends? Many of our Cellar Doors welcome your pets, you'll find pet friendly accomodation and lists on the wine country website.
If you love the Hunter Valley's signature varieties, or would like to learn more about them, add Thomas Wines to the list.
Thomas Wines offers 3 tasting experiences each focusing on the Hunter Valley's signature varieties of Semillon and Shiraz. Our tastings will leave you with an understanding of how Andrew Thomas can offer diversity within these two varieties.
THE DISCOVERY – discover the stylistic diversity within Semillon and Shiraz. Over 30-45 minutes, our team will take you on a discovery showcasing 4 Semillon and 4 Shiraz to include our everyday, seriously smashable wines, with a few premium single vineyard wines to finish.
THE EXPLORER - the new kid in our tasting line up. This tasting goes straight to the top shelf. You'll taste our 4 single vineyard Semillon looking at vineyard variation, and including our highly awarded 2015 Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon. Then follow through with an exploration of 4 premium single vineyard Shiraz to include the iconic Kiss Shiraz.
THE JOURNEY - this is for those that really love, or want to take a deep dive into Hunter Valley Semillon and Shiraz. Our full list is at your disposal. Ask our team to tailor the tasting specifically to your needs or taste our full range. Take a Journey through our single vineyard wines with soil samples & maps to help you better understand the diversity the Hunter Valley offers.
Our seated tastings include tasting notes and a selection of riedel wine glassware. We take your tasting seriously, but promise it will be fun and relaxed.
To help us really spoil you, please book your tasting in advance; the team hate it when they have to turn people away when fully booked. We can't wait to show you why we think Hunter Valley Semillon and Shiraz are so special.
So what are you waiting for? Do all the hard (but fun) work now. Plan and book your visit before your holiday, then all you have to do when you get here is relax and enjoy.