Tips in doing DIY Hunter Valley wine tours
Hunter Valley is one of the most well-known wine-growing regions in Australia. It is the oldest wine region with approximately 150 wineries and 200 years of winemaking history. It is quite an attractive destination because it only takes 2 hours to drive from north of Sydney.
Do you want to experience what Hunter Valley vineyards have to offer? You don’t need to shell out lots of money to do so. DIY wine tours can be equally fun as private wine tours as long as proper planning is done. Read below on some tips on where to start.
When do you plan to visit?
Timing is essential when organising a wine tour. The harvest season in Hunter Valley vineyards occurs during summer, from December to February. This is the best time to visit. Take note that these are some of the busiest months of the year.
The other seasons also have something to offer:
- Spring (September to November) – the vines are just beginning to bud. The weather is pleasant and the gardens are colourful.
- Autumn (March to May) – enjoy beautiful red and gold foliage. It offers the best mix of weather and crowds.
- Winter (June to August) – this is the best red wine drinking weather.
Choose the wineries you want to go to ahead of time
With over 150 wineries in the area, it is impossible to visit all of them in your tour. Choose a select few that match your preferences.
There are boutique wineries that are normally family-run. Expect to experience a warm atmosphere and the staff will treat you like family. They are able to give attention to each of their guests.
If you want to taste internationally renowned wines, you can try big wineries. Unfortunately, your experience there will be less exclusive. Often, the staff will not be able to give their full attention to you.
Highly Recommended Hunter Valley Wine Tours For You
Confused about where to start your list? Here are some recommendations from experts:
Brokenwood started in 1975. It is popular for its Cricket Pitch Red. Other standouts include chardonnays from Hunter Valley, Orange (NSW), and Beechworth (Vic).
Gartelmann is a great boutique wine producer in Lovedale. It is famous for its Semillon, shiraz, and merlot. Gourmet products from the area are also on sale. A café is also available for breakfast and lunch.
“Bimbadgen” means “place of good view”. It focuses on local produce. It offers a reasonably priced 5-course degustation menu. The staff matches this with estate wines for an additional price.
Harkham wines concentrate on classic Hunter Valley varieties. They are vibrant, pure, and absolutely unique representations of the region. Harkham also has fantastic boutique accommodation. What’s more is that there is a popular restaurant that offers “Latino street food pop up” every Friday night.
Plan your trip in such a way that you will be able to savour the experience. Sometimes, less is more. Staying in two vineyards is much preferred than five hurried tastings.
Contact the places you want to visit.
There is nothing worse than arriving at a perfect vineyard scenery, only to get substandard service – or no service at all! You might even get turned away, especially on weekends. This can be avoided by simply contacting the winery. Inform them of the date and time of your arrival.
Contacting the wineries also helps you check if they are open on the day of your visit. It will also affect the way you plan your route during the day.
Get a driver to save time.
Hunter Valley is a huge area. It is better to hire a driver for private transfer Sydney to Hunter Valley. In this way you can reserve all your energy in sampling the wine. This will also save you from the trouble of navigation and losing precious time.
Drivers can also help you during the day in looking for the best places to visit. If you’re feeling a bit spontaneous, they also know some “off-the-beaten-path” spots.
Prepare the right attire.
Hunter Valley is a casual place. Suits and ties are not required unless you’re planning to go somewhere special. A collared open-neck shirt and jacket is acceptable. Closed-toe shoes are required. Take note that the Australian sun is quite strong. You may want to bring a hat and sunglasses.
Take Your Tasting Experience to the Next Level
Not all groups have the same tasting experience in a particular vineyard. Here are some tips on how you can take your tasting experience to the next level:
Leave your cigarettes and perfumes at home.
The smell of cigarette and perfume interferes with your ability to taste the wine. Make sure that you have lunch and lots of water. You need to stay fed and well-hydrated while tasting various wine varieties.
Don’t “shot” your tasting portion.
Slamming back the whole portion of your wine in one mouthful is a bad message to the sommelier. It is as if you want the alcohol only, not the taste. You will also miss out since you need at least two sips to properly taste the wine on the third sip.
The correct way to drink wine is to swirl, sniff, and take three sips. Swirling the wine mixes it with air and unlocks its flavours.
Be careful with your reaction.
Don’t make a face or give comments like “This is horrendous” or “I don’t like this”. You will not like all wines they offer. Help your sommelier by calmly saying “I think this one’s a bit tart. Do you have something sweeter?”
Sommeliers are passionate about their craft. Don’t be shy in asking questions. Showing your interest will help you gain favour when it’s time to pour the next portion.
DIY Wine Tour not working out? Try Private Wine Tours in Hunter Valley.
Sometimes it’s best to spare ourselves from the stress of planning a weekend getaway. Hunter Valley Tours offers reasonably priced wine tours for the whole family. Take note that the members of your group must be at least 18 years old. We can organise private Hunter Valley wine tours half-day or whole day based on your preference. We can also arrange pick-up services from your Newcastle or Sydney accommodation. Enquire online and Call us today!