Friday, November 7, 2008

Hunter Valley Wine Tour

In the week that I was in Sydney I only did one tour. This was partly because of budget constraints but mostly because I did it all before the last time I was there. I had not done a wine tasting tour the last time I was here. This was because in those days I thought wine tastings were reserved for upper class geeks who go about spitting out the wine while saying things like 'It has a rich fruity bouquet with a hint of strawberries' (tossers).

My wine tasting trip in South Africa showed me how wrong that was so I booked myself onto a wine tasting tour of Hunters Valley - the famous wine growing region just north of Sydney.

Our first stop was not even a wine tasting but to the Australian Reptile park so we could pet a Koala and feed some Kangaroos. I think every zoo or park in Australia has this going on. I didn't actually mind this park as the kangaroos have their own part of the enclosure to escape from people and its really just like being in a petting farm. I am still not sure about the Koalas though.

We were given 3/4 hour to go around and see the rest of the park which in truth was all that you needed. I was impressed by the fact that this place milks venom from funnel web spiders for anti-serum as well as some of the snakes and they have a good captive Tasmanian devil breeding program. I am still wondering why they decided on a Egyptian theme for their reptile part - even if they did have one king cobra!


Mummy and Cobra

Mummy watching

After the reptile park it was on to Rosemount / Lindemans for our first tasting. We were given a good selection of white/red and sparkling wines. Then it was on to another place for lunch and another tasting. Then another tasting just up the road and then finally our last wine tasting - which was the best in a place called Tullocks. This tasting was unusual because instead of standing at the bar we were all given seats and then the guide presented each wine in turn before going round and pouring into our glasses. It was the best simply because the guys presentation and enthusiasm was so good - and he sampled the wines himself!

A typical statue given an aussi make over - I could have used the wig later on!

Sorry if I am rushing through the wine tasting but the reason why I picked this tour was because of the last stop - a brewery! Now I will drink just about anything given to me (as anyone who is reading this blog will know!) but I am a beer drinker first and foremost.

The brewery tasting was fantastic. The brewery was called potters brewery and was a real genuine micro brewery. They had 3 beers for tasting: Hunter pale Ale; Hunter wheat beer and Bock dark lager. Why was the brewery so good? Well not only did they give decent tasting measures (special small glasses which were about 1/3 pint) but most of the other people on the trip were not beer drinkers - so I got theirs as well. Oh the best one was the Bock but after several tastings I really couldn't have cared!
Me and DM at the Brewery

All for me!

Mascots drinking together

DM legs are starting to wobble

After the brewery it was back to Sydney - which took about 2 hours - its a long way to hunter valley.

In truth this wine tasting tour was not as good as the one in South Africa although it was ok. I could put that down to the fact it was far more expensive or that the measures were not as big - which I was expecting anyway. Instead I would put it down to the people rather than the tour. As well as my self there was a group of 3 Welsh girls 4 younger Americans, 1 boring Swiss guy and an old couple from Washington DC. Although I talked extensively to the Welsh girls and the old guy from Washington (who was a beer drinker like myself) there was not the same camaraderie as there was on the South African tour. For one thing everyone seemed to be pouring out quite a lot of their samples which meant that they weren't getting drunk. I think the only person with a buzz on them by the end of the day was yours truly.

Still it won't stop me doing more wine tastings - I am particularly looking forward to doing one in Chile!

I got back to the hostel at about 8pm and was in need of some food. I ended up going up to Kings Cross and finding a cheap indian sit in where you could get curry and rice for $7. I had been talking to some of the people in the hostel who were heading to the 'World Bar' which was somewhere in Kings Cross. I did eventually find the place only to be refused entry because I had no ID! The bouncer told me it had nothing to do with my age but it was company policy so that anything happened to you inside they would know who you are. (I bit of an worrying reason). I headed back to the hostel picked up my passport and went back to the bar where I immediately got in.

At this point I wished I had have gotten refused. It was packed to the brim. By the time I got to the bar I had so much spilled drinks on my shirt I could have rang it out into my mouth and avoided paying for a pint. It took so long to get to the bar I decided to get a jug rather than a schooner. The other thing about the place was that there were quite alot of men dressed up as women. I thought I had happened upon a gay bar until I was told that it was ladies night which meant that if you dressed up as a woman you got your drinks for half price. "Bugger" I thought "I've left my dress at home!". I found where all the ones from my hostel had gone - they were taking part in Karaoke at the back of the bar. I managed to get close to a bar at the back of the pub which also allowed me to hear the Karaoke - bad move. Two of the girls out of my hostel sang 'Like a Virgin' followed by some Asian girls doing a rendition of Britney Spears' 'Oops I did it again'. Some of the singing after that would have driven you to drink - which I did.

I don't remember much about the end of the night - too much wine and beer - but I did wake up the next morning to find a telephone number on a scrap of paper with the words 'Bob - call me'. THAT IS A JOKE! - it was actually Jim.

No comments: