For those of us lucky enough living on the Central Coast a day, or even a couple of days, visiting wineries is only a few hours travel away. The choice of accommodation and places to eat, shop, cycle and country walks will keep even the fussiest of travellers happy. It is always a good idea to save something for a second visit because many of the smaller vineyards only sell from the cellar door.
For those who know the area and want to visit vineyards of their choice, get a map and plan your day going to various places on your own or join an organised tour with a guide to maximise your experience. You can also organise a small group with a chauffeur and spend the day wining and dining. Better stay the night after that experience!
Solar power at Tamburlaine Estate
I stayed for two nights and joined a guided tour and was lucky with the choices made by the guide for that day. The first vineyard was at 358 Mc Donald's Rd. the home of Tamburlaine wines. The property was bought in 1966 by a group of friends. Mark Davidson was the chief winemaker and he followed the philosophy of producing wines without using synthetic chemicals and not adding sulphur to the wines. This has resulted in producing award-winning wines and healthy, improved soil preserved for future generations.
The tasting was presented for the group in a private room and was comprehensive in variety and type. It would be easy to taste all the wine presented, but not recommended if you intend to visit 3 or more other vineyards in a day. I bought a case of 2017 Grenache Shiraz Merlot wine. This can only be bought at the cellar door as with many of the wineries, so I have a reason to return to buy more in the future. Joining a wine club is another way to buy, but going to the cellar door and tasting other wines in the future, making a day of it is the best way for Central Coast dwellers.
Next, we travelled to a boutique estate established by the McLeish family in 1985. Semillon and Chardonnay grapes were planted and in 1995 the cellar door was opened. Award-winning wines of excellent quality resulted in being awarded the trophy for the world's best Semillon at the London International wine challenge in 2014. Organising a private luncheon at the cellar is a great experience, as it is at most of the 65 vineyards in the Hunter Valley district. Bob McLeish moved to the Hunter Valley because he didn't like the beer, water or wine in Adelaide - a picky Scotsman made a great move!
On to aWinesr boutique estate, McGuigan wines. More award-winning wines to taste. To add to the experience The Hunter Valley Cheese Co. supplied a great variety of local cheeses to nibble. I loved the 'cellar select' Malbec which had been made from an introduced Argentine grape grown in South Australia. Some very sweet 'stickies 'hit the spot.
The final estate was Draytons, one of the largest and first estates established in the Valley. Joseph Drayton arrived in 1853 and the family still own and run the vineyard. The secret the estates in the valley produce wines of such quality and variety is because the soil is rich volcanic loam. It was lunch time for me. I had a plate of cheeses and a pate to die for. I have travelled back to buy not only wines I tasted, but always make a beeline to Draytons for more pate.
I wasn't lucky with the place I chose to stay, nor the restaurant I ate at, however, I live on the Central Coast so a day trip suits me, choose wisely when booking accommodation.
Joining a wine club is encouraged at most vineyards and all offer special privileges for members, e.g. 13 bottles to the dozen and discounts at estate events - a great way to meet other wine connoisseurs and sample new wines.