I recently had a weekend away in the Hunter Valley and was shocked to realise it was my first trip in five years. I used to visit annually and so much has changed: new roundabouts, new buildings going up, feels like there’s more restaurants, some wineries I hadn’t heard of, plus a few wineries under new names.
We did a couple of tastings on Friday, a couple of long member tastings on Saturday as between us we had memberships for a few wineries. Finished off on Sunday with a couple more regular tastings. This trip for me, like most trips, was a mix of old and new and enjoyed wine tastings at Ernest Hill, Tinkler Family, Tulloch, Briar Ridge, Usher Tinkler, and Tamburlaine.
A nice feature at Briar Ridge was a wall full of wooden signs which, on closer inspection turned out to be a summary of each year’s vintage. They provided a breakdown of number of litres per wine type (gallons on the early ones), as well as a summary of the vintage, conditions and weather. A few of the wineries talked about 2014 being a great year for Hunter wines and this reflected in the summary too.
I was curious that Usher Tinkler had opened his own winery as I was visiting the Tinkler family vineyard around the time he won Young Winemaker of the Year in 2007. I particularly liked his work at the time with Poole Rock and now with his own winery he seems to be experimenting with various blends, some of which worked rather well.
We managed to buy some wine at all the wineries we visited and I like being able to buy wine directly from the people making it. Interestingly the weather was significantly different outside the Sydney basin; cold enough to wear a jumper and enjoy a wood fire. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to return next year.