I'm a children's book author, radio presenter of 'By the Book' for Radio Northern Beaches, and freelance writer. Check out www.brydiewright.com for more about
Published November 14th 2016
Touring Wine Country Drive and Broke Road in the Hunter Valley, you might be forgiven for thinking you had entered some sort of wine appreciation theme park for adults. The countryside is dotted with the who's who of New South Wales wine producers and most have industrial sized cellar doors with gourmet restaurants and produce stores to enhance their offerings to guests. There is certainly nothing at all wrong with visiting these large estates other than the possibility they might start to blur into one, both literally and figuratively, as your tour goes on.
Enter Hanging Tree Wines from stage left and you'll find a cellar door experience that stands on its own and won't be easily forgotten no matter how many other wineries you visit.
My husband and I have visited the boutique Hanging Tree estate on scorching November days, two years in a row now. We happened upon it quite by accident the first time but can't be thankful enough that we made the decision to stop and check it out, lured by the picturesque and rustic farmyard scene just beyond the welcome sign.
With the historic ruins of the blacksmith and horse whisperer's cottages setting the scene for guests as they park up, the main path leads to the most idyllic old tin roof farmhouse which is the home to the cellar door and wine tastings. We thought we had walked onto the set The Man from Snowy River or Bushfire Moon, such was the old world Australian charm of the property and its buildings. The cellar door decor and furniture are rustic themed throughout and if you're lucky enough to be welcomed by one of the owner's friendly Labradors Vodka or Muscat, you couldn't ask for a more perfect and personalised wine tasting experience, with endearing staff and magnificent relaxing views across the fields and the farmhouse lake.
Of course, if the wine had been below par perhaps I wouldn't have made a return visit or be writing this blog in praise of this independent winemaker but as it happened, the experience of visiting this unique estate was enhanced no end by the chilled bottle of Sparkling Moscato that cooled us down as we sat in the shade on the verandah, in otherwise soaring temperatures.
We walked away with a bag full of special wines for Christmas on both occasions but beyond all else, we walked away with the desire to return as soon as we can for even a few moments of peace, tranquillity and a fine drop, in one of the Hunter's most hidden gems.