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in Love to Live Life

Hunter Valley

  • February 23, 2014
  • By Brittany
Hunter Valley

Hello friends!  Did you have a nice weekend?  It was in the 50s here this weekend and it felt soooo good (side note- something is wrong when you think 50s is warm . . .).  Also, has anyone else noticed the sun has been setting at 5:40pm!!!  I can hear spring calling me and I want to shout out “I’m here!!! Rescue me!!”  Of course we will be getting snow on Tuesday.  Fun.  

Anyways, we’ve finally made it!  Our last stop on tour de Australia.  So far we’ve visited the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and Sydney: Part 1 and Part 2.  Well, our final stop on what I call the greatest vacation ever besides my honeymoon is the Hunter Valley.

The Hunter Valley is wine country in Australia.  It is the only wine region in New South Wales and I would like to say it is the best, but I think the Barossa Valley in South Australia takes the cake on that one.  No matter!  I love the Hunter.  Pete and I vacationed there way back in 2007 right before we moved to the U.S. from Sydney.  Since it is only a two hour drive from Sydney, we decided to make a two day trip to the Hunter to show my parents what real Australian wine is (note- real Australian wine is not yellowtail.  Nor do they drink Fosters.).


We stayed at this really cute B&B called Grapevines (appropriately named) that had some great views of vineyards.  There was such a lovely backyard area complete with tables and chairs to enjoy some wine or eat breakfast alfresco (both of which we did!).

b&b view

b&p view.jpg

Right away we knew we had to stop at some of our favorite wineries including Brokenwood and McGuigans.




The wines are Brokenwood are impeccable.  Their Cricket Pitch brand wines are pretty awesome.


At both McGuigans and Brokenwood we picked up a bottle of botrytis wine. Botrytis is a dessert wine that is nice and sweet and very tasty.  It is actually my MIL’s favorite dessert wine, so we picked her up one we thought was pretty darn good.  The name botrytis actually refers to the fungus that grows on grapes used to make this wine.  The botrytis fungus draws the liquid out of the grapes leaving behind a greater sugar content, which is what makes the wine so sweet.  Because it is a fungus, the USDA has actually not approved botrytis for viticulture in the United States.  Luckily we were able to smuggle a bottle back with us.  Muhahaha.

Amanda's 1

Our first night there the Hubs and I decided to take my parents to Amanda’s on the Edge, which is an amazing restaurant we visited the first time we were in the Hunter Valley.  Neither of us remember much of what we ate except for appetizers Pete had the porcini mushroom soup and I had the caprese salad and they were so incredible!  So naturally we had to go back!

Amanda's 2

Amanda's 3

The patio out back was so peaceful and picturesque.  Dining outside by the vineyards-it doesn’t get much better than that.  Although it was really stinking hot!  There was a massive heat wave in Australia and it was over 30 degrees celsius when we were eating dinner.  That is well over 100 degrees fahrenheit.

amandas Collage.jpg

I can’t remember for the life of me what we ate but it looks really good, doesn’t it?  

Day 2 in the Hunter meant a wine tour!  Woo hoo!  We put ourselves in the capable hands of James’ Hunter Valley Wine and Vineyard Tours.


Our first stop was Wynwood Estate, which had incredibly diverse wines and the most gorgeous views.  They brought us to their member’s only tasting room but I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the views.  

wynwood 3

wynwood 5

wynwood 4

The wines we tasted at Wynwood were really interesting (in a good way!).  I tried a Chambourcin, which I have never even heard of!  I love going tasting and actually getting to try something totally new.  Wynwood also had some really fun dessert and “party” style wines, which were sweet and some a little bit bubbly.  At one point we added a lime to this pretty pink bubbly dessert wine.  So fun for celebrating.


Wynwood 2

After Wynwood we headed to McLeish, a Scottish heritage winery.  I’ll just say it was not my favorite.  They had several award winning wines but we were not allowed to taste them. ๐Ÿ™  They did have a pretty fountain though!

mcleish 1

mcleish 2

mcleish 3

Our next stop was lunch at a local pub.  Pubs are a lot more popular in Australia than the U.S. and most locals will have a pub they go to regularly for a casual meal, often with their families.  They aren’t the college bars you think of in the U.S.

lunch 1

lunch 2

We had a great lunch.  The Hubs had this HUGE pot pie and I had the most amazing goat cheese and caramelized onion tart.  

After lunch we headed to Lucy’s Run.  This winery is kind of the epitome of why I love Australians.

lucys run 2

Lucy’s Run was started by a retired airline pilot who wanted to grow olives and wine.  And, as you do, he purchased a vineyard and did just that.  It is just a one man show at this winery and you can tell his heart is so into what he does.  The winery is named after his dog, Lucy, who has since passed.  

lucys run 1

The winery is not commercialized at all and there is actually a sign that says “Yes, you are in the right place” because you wouldn’t think that this was a tasting room.  But it was so welcoming and enjoyable.  And the wines were good too!

lucys run 3

We even got to try some of his grapes!

After Lucy’s Run we visited our last stop of the day Ernest Hill.  Now, I know it was the last stop, but I thought the wines were the best.  We ended up buying a rose and a white from here because the Hubs and I thought they were so excellent.  Perfect for summer drinking, in about another 6 months!  

ernest hill 2

ernest hill 3

ernest hill 4

ernest hill 1

Oh!  I almost forgot the two best parts of our wine tasting trip: the cheese and chocolate tasting!

smelly cheese 1

smelly cheese 2

Yes, the place was called The Smelly Cheese shop.  It was smelly and oh-so-good!

chocolate tasting

I swear they gave us more chocolate than this.  I guess they didn’t make the photo! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, that’s it friends!  Thank you so much for joining me on my trip around Australia.  I hope you had as much fun exploring the Down Under as I did!  Unfortunately I don’t think it cured my travel bug, but I’m ok with that!

Readers, what is the most unique wine (or drink) you’ve ever tried?  Have you ever been on a wine tasting tour?  What do you like better: chocolate or cheese?


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  • Kimberly (Manifest Yourself)
    February 24, 2014

    I’m obsessed with prosecco wine lately. I just love that it is semi-sweet + bubbly. I’ve never been to a wine tasting, but when I go to Riposo 72 in NYC, I make sure to taste a few new wines each time.

  • Kimberly (Manifest Yourself)
    February 24, 2014

    I’m obsessed with prosecco wine lately. I just love that it is semi-sweet + bubbly. I’ve never been to a wine tasting, but when I go to Riposo 72 in NYC, I make sure to taste a few new wines each time.

  • Kimberly (Manifest Yourself)
    February 24, 2014

    I’m obsessed with prosecco wine lately. I just love that it is semi-sweet + bubbly. I’ve never been to a wine tasting, but when I go to Riposo 72 in NYC, I make sure to taste a few new wines each time.

  • Kim
    February 24, 2014

    I love wineries. Sadly Kansas isn’t really known for them!! The only true wine tour I’ve done was in San Francisco years ago.
    Dessert wines are usually my favorite – the sweeter the better for me!!!
    Seems weird that one of the wineries didn’t let y’all taste any of the wine.

    • FitBritt
      February 25, 2014

      San Fran is a great area for wineries!

      I should have been more clear– we did a tasting but none of the wines we tasted were the award winning ones that they were promoting so it felt like we didn’t get the full experience!

  • Lauren @ ihadabiglunch
    February 24, 2014

    I haven’t had lunch yet so seeing these photos of your amazing lunch is really killing me haha goat cheese and carmelized onion must be a new trend because I’m seeing it everywhere! (not that i mind….)

  • Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit
    February 24, 2014

    Ahhh this looks fabulous! I love all things wine, so much! I don’t know that I could choose between chocolate or cheese…. but, if I had to… I guess I’d rather have cheese!

    You look just like your mom. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Megan @ The Skinny-Life
    February 24, 2014

    Mostly chocolate, but I do like cheese with wine. I have drank wine in ages though. It gives me terrible headaches. I love it, but it doesn’t love me. I haven’t been to a wine tasting every, but have always wanted to experience one. By the way, you look so much like your Mom. You must hear that a lot!

  • Holly
    February 24, 2014

    The comments about headaches and wine do resonate with me–one must be rather careful of the tannins. The wonderful thing about wine tastings is that you can swish the wine around your palate and deftly “dispose” of it, if it gives you headaches. The cheese and chocolate, however, should always be eaten even for risk of a headache! Great pics, FitBritt! Looks like you could run or skip around the vineyards for a bit of a workout!

  • Jessie
    February 24, 2014

    Sounds like such a lovely weekend w/ your husband and family. You and your Mom look so much a like – both beautiful! Hope you continue having a lovely week!

  • Nicole
    February 24, 2014

    OMG it looks amazinggggg!! I now am adding Hunter Valley to my bucket list…. though wine tasting in Australia in general was already on there! Lucy’s Run sounds right up my alley. I just love quirky boutiquey kinds of places like that. I’m laughing at you commenting on loving the wines at the last place… I always seem to become way less of a wine critic a few wineries in! I go from being all serious in tasting things to not even know what type of wine I’m drinking hahaha

    • FitBritt
      February 25, 2014

      Haha me too! Hunter Valley was so much fun. I would actually recommend going there when it is cooler though because the scenery is much more lush and the crowds are less.

  • Carly @ Fine Fit Day
    February 25, 2014

    The Hunter is such a great spot! So glad you got a chance to visit. I love McGuigans wine, and I had no idea Brokenwood was from the Hunter Valley. I actually went to a wine tasting at an Aussie bar in NYC for McLeish wines and they were great. Oh, and really good pub lunches are the best. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re making me want to take a trip back!!

    • FitBritt
      February 26, 2014

      That’s so funny that there was a wine tasting for McLeish in NYC! I think Brokenwood has a location in the Hunter but a lot of their grapes come from other areas. At least based on the tasting list, that is what it looked like to me. They have some exceptional wines though!

  • Catherine Gacad
    February 28, 2014

    i can’t wait to have my first sip of wine post-baby! i’m going to treat myself to something rare and amazing!!!

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