Hunter Valley Part 2
Sydney Travel Blog› entry 15 of 22 › view all entries
As a continuation of my wine trail from last weekend, I went back up to the
Soooo, back to the hunter. We had booked the cheapest car from Avis and when we went to pick it up we got a surprise upgrade to a Holden convertible (aussie car) - their most high end car which apparently never happens.
You have to be prepared to be stained head to toe, so I made sure I was wearing really daggy stuff and borrowed rubber boots aka gumboots. The cellar was full of fermenting grapes (mostly
Most of the work we did involved plunging and taking the baume and temperature readings of each barrel. Temperature has to be closely watched as it effects the rate of fermentation.
Plunging mixes up all the grapes with their juice. When the grapes are just sitting in the barrels they rise to the top and dry into a cap - so this needs to be broken up and pushed down.
The pressing of the grapes is done by a machine which I took pictures of. They use the lowest pressure on the machine to disturb the character of the fruit as little as possible. Once pressed they can be fermented.
You can tell which loads have been harvested by machine and which by hand because you will find all sorts of interesting things in the ones harvested by machine! (After grapes are picked they go through a de-stemming machine before being pressed.
We worked with Dave’s assistant who was grateful for the help. They work such long hours during vintage and there is a lot of repetitive work and hard labour. It is important to have a lot of beer in the fridge for this period. Dave is very generous in this way. In fact both days, we managed to show up for work just as they were either stopping for a drink break or lunch. There will be only about another busy week or so until it will slow down and the best part happens: the tasting. This is when you go around all the barrels with a wine thief to get the first taste of the harvest and make sure everything is okay.
On Saturday night Dave took us to Harrigan’s Pub which is The Pub in the hunter. After that we finished up with the wine Dave gave us for the evening. He has a huge amount of knowledge on the history of the hunter. Apparently in the last ten years the amount of cellar doors has doubled (but the amount of wineries is still about the same.
The other thing is that so many wineries are owned by large companies which are no longer Australian owned (eg. Foster’s). When multinationals own wineries they can grow the grapes in whatever country is cheapest - so the “terroir” aspect can be deceiving.
The good thing about all the tourism is that there will be more wine bars opening up so it will be more interesting at night not just during the day.
On Sunday, I was much quicker at the work and afterwards we spent some time chatting with Dave’s assistant who has worked at wineries in
We were thanked with a case load of Songlineswines and a Jeroboam (really big bottle). This was really exceedingly generous considering the value. By now we had more wine than we could possibly drink for a while. That night we went to
The next day, after an omelette and chardonnay breakfast (highly recommend this combo) we packed up and cruised through a couple more wineries (Tyrrells, David Hook, Saddle Creek) and went to the village gelato shop. The David Hook winery was beautiful and there was a really nice furniture shop there called Monsoon full of Chinese and Indian antiques and homeware.
Since the weather was nice still, we took the scenic route home stopping in the town of
It was sad end the weekend and give back our convertible.
At least Easter is coming soon …