What’s north of Sydney? Wine! – February 2015

We’ve been to the northern and southern parts of eastern Australia before, but everything in between is vast unexplored territory for us.

Our first stop is wine country, of course. The Hunter Valley in New South Wales is renowned for the semillon, a white varietal we don’t see often in upstate New York or California either. Shiraz is big here too. With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors in the valley, we had a tough time deciding where to go.

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We were in the midst of the harvest season. Don’t these grapes look luscious!

Another great feature of these wineries is that the tastings are free (unlike our $20 per person charges in Oregon).  And each winery has more than a dozen wines to select from. We had a nice Tyrrell’s chardonnay for lunch, light with a very soft oak.

We stopped at the giant Hope Vineyards, but didn’t stay. They have a major concert space, with Rod Stewart next on the event calendar. Nearby Tempus Two is hosting Olivia Newton-John shortly. We don’t see much of this vineyard/concert combination in the US.

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We don’t know how the wine is, but the slogan is inspiring for all us wine-drinkers.

Another feature we liked at Australia and New Zealand wineries is the planting of rose bushes at the street-facing ends of the rows. It probably doesn’t do anything for the taste of the wine, but it’s quite pretty.

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Roses would be a lovely addition to the Finger Lakes vineyards. Would they grow?

 

We ended up visiting Audrey Wilkinson (a vineyard, not a lady) and Pepper Tree. This one is a boutique winery founded in 1991, but getting great recognition.

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Pepper Tree in Pokolbin, someplace we had not heard of before.

 

The Shiraz was good enough to pick up a bottle, even though we’re not really big red drinkers. Later it ended up pairing nicely, if somewhat unconventionally with Australian cheese and crackers and fruit alongside the pool at our airbnb in Noosa. We pity you working people.

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Aah!!

Finally we stopped at Lindeman’s, established in 1843 in the Hunter Valley by Dr. Henry Lindeman (sounds a little like Dr. Konstantin Frank’s story). Now the Ben Ean cellar door tasting room remains in Hunter Valley, but much of the sourcing moved to the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, and elsewhere. Lindeman’s was the wine sponsors for the Canadian and British Olympic teams at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. (Why not the Australian team?)

When we lived in Hong Kong, Lindeman’s Bin 65 was our go-to everyday (cheap) Chardonnay. The winery has nicknamed it “Sunshine in a Bottle,” with 1,000 hours of sunshine in every drop. It sells for $5 at Australia bottle shops; that’s under $4 US so it’s pretty close to Two-Buck Chuck at Trader Joes. They don’t even serve it at the tasting room, but do have numerous better-quality wines, all quite tasty. One burgundy is said to age to 100 years. Buy one now for your great-grandkids to enjoy.

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Vineyard view at Lindeman’s Ben Ean location in the Hunger Valley.

 

Plenty of wine for one day! Next day, on to the beaches.

 

 

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