"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hunter Valley PTA (perfect tour acquired)

Australia trip - Day 3 - from the hotel in Sydney - Monday, Aug. 25th
We took our first tour today in Australia and it was to the picturesque wine region of Hunter Valley, a couple of hours from Sydney. We had no idea what a large concentration of wineries were in this area - try around 150. We had a nice small group - only nine brave souls and our driver, Neville...or was it Nigel...inside tour joke...it was definitely Nigel and he was superb. He took us on a rather customized tour and got us off the regular beaten path. The morning was spent at two small boutique wineries who only offer cellar-door sales (i.e. you can't run down to the corner liquor store and find these wines, you can only buy them at the winery). The first was Mistletoe. They had a nice array of wines for us to sample (our group was the only one there). We chose to purchase the incredibly different sparkling red, Petillant (an effervescent red served cold like champagne) to bring home with us. Since it's early spring here the vines are, of course, dormant but despite that the beauty of this large valley dotted with vineyards was still evident.
The next stop was just a few doors down the road at Tintilla where the owner herself conducted the private wine-tasting (again, we were the only folks there...well done, Neville). The wines were varied and tasty but our real find here was flavored olive oils from the Pukara Estate in the Upper Hunter Valley region. These dipping oils have been infused with an array of different flavors (we settled on pepper, lime and garlic) creating a savory taste sensation...Hunter Valley, if you haven't guessed is also an olive-growing region.
Lunch was next on the agenda and it was served (with more wine samples of course) at the Hunter Resort which had it's own winery as well as a microbrewery called "Bluetongue" which derives its name from an indigenous lizard in the area with a bright blue tongue thought to be used to fool predators into thinking it is poisonous, evidently it is not, but we did not have an opportunity or a desire to test that theory. Rob had a sample "paddle" of their beers and was just happy to find a somewhat dark, hoppy beer choice in this "land of pilsners and lagers." An excellent meal followed with good camaraderie with our fellow tour-mates - three fun gals from New Zealand on a short "shopping holiday" - a mother and son who reside in Lebanon but she grew up in Australia (Lebanon, the country, of course, what would be the odds of meeting someone from where we live in Lebanon, TN, although we did meet a group of ladies from nearby Murfreesboro when we were in Greece last year) - a well-traveled older lady from Colorado who had ditched her husband who was working back in Sydney, and a fairly quiet but nice young lady from Malaysia.
After lunch we stopped at a amazing chocolate shop for dessert (did I mention there was wine sampling available here too). Ashlee's purchase of the Rocky Road Fudge per Nigel's (OK, enough with the "Neville" stuff already) recommendation has not been sampled yet as of this writing, but will be soon. Penguins and snails have nothing to do with Australia but that did stop Ashlee from purchasing these little chocolate fellas who we can't wait to bite the head off of later.
The next stop was McGuigan's - a much larger winery than the morning boutiques but still not available in the U.S. (yet). Their specialty is ports (wine infused with bourbon or brandy which not only increases the alcohol content, but the body and flavor as well). We settled on purchasing the amazing Tawny Port from the personal reserve of the owner, Brian McGuigan. The selling point on this one was when our excellent pourer, Geoff, served us a second sample of it in a heated glass - now that's a smooth finish for a cold winter's night! It was surprising that we both liked this enough to purchase a bottle since our recent visit to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (see previous blog) did not leave us with great impressions in regard to the taste of whiskey.
Just before the last stop before heading back to Sydney, Nigel made good on his promise that we would see a kangaroo "in the wild." Evidently, kangaroos are as common here as deer are in the U.S. out away from the cities. We saw two different ones (Nigel says there were three) grazing in the valley pastures. They don't bother the grapes or the vines in the region. The last stop was Drayton's. Nigel told us that just a few months before there had been a freak explosion at this winery that had killed one of the brothers/owners. Rebuilding was still under way when we stopped, but it seemed to be business as usual. Strangely enough the single biggest purchase from the group here was Toohey New Beer - another Australian lager - Rob stopped being a beer-snob and joined the Kiwi gals in purchasing a bottle as well. The ride back started off rather boisterous with some singing and hand-clapping to Meat Loaf's "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" - nice CD choice, Nigel, and then we all just settled back and enjoyed the ride back to Sydney as the sun was setting. Another great Aussie day. We settled in the room early as we prepare for another day-long tour tomorrow to the Blue Mountains.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Bugger! Wish I were there. Sounds like a great time.