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Escape the city, go on a gourmet food and wine trail, and find yourself in the heart of the Hunter Valley at the Lovedale Long Lunch. Cooler weather is upon us, and it's time again to indulge and excite the senses with this annual event.
This winery-hopping, some may call a sophisticated pub crawl, is equally about the food as it is about the alcohol. Seven wineries are participating this year – Allandale Winery, Emma's Cottage, Gartelmann Wines, Saltire Wines, Sandalyn Estate, Tatler Wines, and Wandin Hunter Valley.
Each establishment has their own restaurant, or teams with a local restaurant, providing a set menu, consisting of two main course options, one dessert option, and one cheese offering. Lots of variety, with gourmet food, including apple glazed Berkshire pork belly, seared barramundi with Spanish onion, chicken with cous cous, and many more tantalising dishes. Vegetarian and gluten options are also available. Each dish is matched with recommended wines.
Peruse the menus online and plan your trip with friends. Wander around all the wineries and have lunch at one, dessert at another. You will get separate tickets to mains and dessert/cheese. Hold on to your branded Lovedale Long Lunch wine glass as you take this with you to each winery.
You can make a weekend of it and buy the Saturday entry package for $85 per person. For this price you get 2 mains, 1 dessert/cheese, 1 wine glass, and entry on both days to all participating wineries. As this is within easy reach from Sydney, you may just want to do one day on the Sunday, at a cost of $65 per person. It includes 1 main, 1 dessert/cheese and 1 wine glass. If you want extra mains, you can purchase supplementary tickets for $25 each, and extra desserts for $10 each. Wine tasting tokens (5) can be purchased at each winery for $5, but note they are not transferable between venues.
Live music on both days at each winery will entertain you, so bring your dancing shoes and dance away those kilos. If you're into art, Emma's Cottage has its own art gallery with some colourful displays. This event is also a chance to buy fine wines or that unique present for a birthday coming up, or even Christmas. Sandalyn Estate holds pasta and sushi classes with a 2 course alfresco lunch. A gift voucher for one of these would be an excellent present for someone who loves cooking and learning new skills.
Getting to the event is a pleasant drive from Newcastle, and a 2hr escape from Sydney, by car. Once there, if all your party is drinking, Rover Coaches offer a shuttle bus to each winery on a continuous loop. Tickets are $25 per person. Or perhaps leave the car at home and get a coach trip the whole way with Zepher Tours.