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by Natasha De Weerd
Home to scores of beautiful vineyards, world-class wines and exquisite produce, a weekend in the Hunter Valley should always be on the cards. Having bought my mum a hot air balloon flight for her birthday, I thought it would be the perfect excuse for a mini mother-daughter trip filled with wine. So if you and your mum consider yourselves wine aficionados and a weekend getaway has been on your minds, then check out this three day itinerary I’ve tried and tested.
Setting off mid-morning, the drive from Sydney to the Hunter Valley was a little over 2 hours and the route was flush with rolling hills, vineyards and farmland. We checked into the Hunter Valley Resort, which proved to be the perfect base to explore the region, plus it offers a host of activities like segway tours, horse riding and massages to name a few. The weather was sure turning it up for our weekend of wine and we were so excited to get started.
With over 150 wineries to choose from, you certainly won’t be spoilt for choice, but where to start first is the hot question! We joined Two Fat Blokes on an afternoon tour and left all the decision-making up to them. We visited three different wineries to indulge in private wine tastings, including an exquisite cheese and wine pairing experience at their very own cellar door. The highlight of the tour was most definitely their famous moscato granita!
Following an afternoon full of wine, a quiet night was on the agenda. We strolled over to Brockenback BBQ and Tapas for a hearty meal (and a glass of wine of course!) It was a crisp evening, but the open fireplace inside kept us cosy. We dosed off early for what would be the most magical morning we’ve experienced to date…
They say the early bird gets the worm, and they weren’t kidding! Waking up just before 4am, we went straight to Peterson House to meet the crew and be transferred to the launch site. Under darkness and with the slightest glow from the rising sun, our ride was expertly inflated by our pilot and an eager passenger. Once on board the balloon, it was only moments until we were gently rising to the sky, waving goodbye to our fellow balloonists still on ground.
The world below was so quiet and peaceful, with nothing but the gorgeous tunes of birdsong filling the air. As the sun peaked above the horizon, rays of orange and yellow spilled over the endless valleys of vineyards and coloured the small patches of lakes. In a matter of minutes, the fog passed and we were left with uninterrupted views of this world-famous wine region bathed in the glorious hues of sunrise.
For an hour, we floated gently over scores of vineyards and verdant farmlands, creating a colourful spectacle for jealous early-risers. We even spotted a few mobs of kangaroos grazing and hopping along the fields below. After a seamless landing and balloon deflation, we were transported back to Peterson House for a delicious champagne breakfast. Who said 8am was too early for a sparkling? If you’re keen to feel the magic, you can book a hot air balloon flight on RedBalloon here.
After a quick rest back at the resort, we were off again to the stunning Audrey Wilkinson for a wine tasting and picnic amongst the vines. We enjoyed a quick tour of the winery before being seated for a premium wine tasting session with the resident sommelier. The package includes one bottle of wine to take away, and it wasn’t hard for us to choose their stand-out moscato.
With delighted tastebuds and a picnic hamper in hand, we chose our favourite spot within the 270 acre property (which was harder than we thought!) Every secret nook boasted sweeping views of their luscious vineyards. I couldn’t think of a better way to while away a couple of hours than savouring great food, views and company. If this has you daydreaming of food and wine, check out the package here.
The last stop of the day was Tulloch Wines, where we indulged in a decadent self guided wine and chocolate pairing, featuring five Tulloch wines perfectly matched with five local handmade chocolates. The package also included two bottles of wine and two boxes of chocolate to take home. Can’t resist? Check it out here.
After an early morning and a jam-packed day, we were more than happy to stay in for the night and order takeaway.
Following a morning exploring the local markets, a sumptuous high tea at the gorgeous Kirkton Park Hotel was exactly what we needed. The high tea is located in their light-filled observatory, offering views of their elegant rose garden and fountain. Served a three tiered stand laden with a delicious selection of petit tarts, French pastries, scones and finger sandwiches, plus a couple of side plates of savoury bites and a glass of sparkling each, we were in heaven. The high tea can be booked on RedBalloon here.
With our tummies full and happy, we began the drive back to Sydney, reminiscing about our unforgettable weekend away. With world-class wines, picture-perfect vineyards and superb food, a trip to the Hunter Valley never disappoints. So what are you waiting for?
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