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Published: June 28th 2009
Jay looking pathetic as we await a jump start
Big driving day as we had to make it to the Hunter Valley. We followed the Pacific Highway all the way from Nambucca Heads to Maitland, the biggest city near the valley. We found a caravan site in Cessnock, nicely situated amidst the 150 wineries in the Hunter. We got to bed early so we could start the free wine fiesta early the next day.
Janis must not like wine much because she decided to die again the next morning. It must have been the cold weather, because we were super careful not to leave anything on that could have drained the battery. The fellow who normally helped out folks with weak batteries was gone until 1:00 so we had to wait for him to return before the free fiesta could begin.
We finally got started around two and had a wonderful afternoon. I drank everything the vintners handed me. Alex on the other hand, had to pace himself as he was the one driving Janis between the vinyards. We had always appreciated a variety of red wines, but honestly had never tried to tell the difference between white wine and carpet cleaner. I discovered Verdhello and Alex really
Wine and olives ... all you need really
liked the heavier oaked Chardonnays.
In 2 and a half days we did 3 wine tours and visited around about 15 cellar doors in total. The first tour we did was a private tour from an old scottish guy at the Tyrrell Winery. The vineyard had just celebrated it's 150th anniversary and is still run by the same family. The next tour was another private tour (it's the slow season) at an organic vineyard. We learned what it takes to grow grapes organically. They recycled all their water, limited the sulphur preservatives and had to grow the grapes pesticide-free for 10 years before they could be fully certified. We also toured McGuigan Wines which is one of the bigger vineyards and is owned by the family that formerly ran Wyndham Estates. All of the wineries grew some of their grapes in the valley but most of them relied on grapes grown in other regions. There are only 8 wineries left in the valley rely entirely on locally-grown grapes.
Overall, everybody was very friendly and always offered everything up for tasting. They never pressured us to buy anything but I think most of them knew they wouldn't get anything
Old truck at the Mcguigan Winery
out of us anyway. The truth is we would have loved to buy some but it really didn't fit into our budget. We also found out that Canada is the most difficult country to export to thanks to a 80% duty that goes straight to the government. We could get stuck if we don't keep moving so tomorrow we're off to Sydney.
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