Monday, 8 August 2016

Zepher Tours - Hunter Valley Part 1

I had the pleasure of checking out the Hunter Valley with Zepher Tours recently. I really wanted a chill day out drinking wine, eating and chatting. So relaxing. So peaceful. So chill.

A Zepher Tour to the Hunter Valley includes transport from Sydney to the Hunter and back. So my day started at 7:20am in Central waiting for the Zepher bus. I was keeping an eye out for the name on the bus as lots of buses were picking up passengers.

There was about 20 people on my tour and there were a few couples and a group of girls in my group. Daniel, my driver explains that Zepher is not a touristy tour where he will be lecturing us via a microphone on the bus. He says it's more of a chat like we're friends and the day will be a nice relaxing day. Sounds good to me!

The day starts off with the 2.5 hour drive up with a 15 minute quick toilet break in between. I manage a toilet break and a quick trip to get a quick breakfast as well. Our bus picks up a few more people up in the Hunter region and we head off to our first winery.

I know Zepher rotate their wineries so you may not necessarily get the same wineries as my tour. This means you can go back and check out different wineries as well.

Lucy's Run

The first winery I check out is Lucy's Run which is named after the dog pictured below. They are a tiny winery which don't stock in any stores or do online sales, they just sell directly, some cellar doors and take phone sales occasionally. 

The wine tasting begins! So I got to taste a variety wines (about 8 different tastings) as well as taste some of their home made cheese (below), olive oils (top photo), dukkah, caramelised balsamic vinegar and spices.

Lucy's Run verdelho from 2014 is a crowd favourite with my tour group (I think they prefer whites), although their award winning merlot is quite nice and I always enjoy tasting my shiraz.  

The owners Heather and Brad are so lovely and down to earth. They make for the perfect start to the day. They are big dog lovers as well.  All the samples are also available to be purchased and they have EFTPOs so that's handy.

Hunter Valley Resort

The next stop is the Hunter Valley Resort which is a venue that stocks a number of local wineries in the area. I check out their menu and they stock the lovely and delicious Margan's wine. I love Margan's wine! It's award winning and absolutely tasty tasty tasty!!! Check out my visit to Margan's in 2014 here. 

I start with a wine tasting sampling about 8 more wines. There is a nice mix of whites, sparkling rose/moscato and red wines. I quite enjoy the sweeter sparkling types. My favourite will always be the reds. I savour those in my mouth just a little bit more (below).

The Hunter Valley Resort also have a brewery attached. MW ops to purchase a paddle ($15) so he can taste the beers.

I'm starting to get tipsy by now and am in desperate need for food. Drinking outside in the sunlight has multiplied it's effect on me. 

Luckily it's time for lunch and it's included in the tour.  On the bus, our driver Daniel gave us a sheet to fill out so we can choose what we want for lunch. If you choose and paid for the 3 course meal then you have more choices.

Lunch is served in the restaurant at the Hunter Valley Resort. For starters and entrees we did not have a choice so I tried some pesto bruschetta (above). Next up is the falafel patties with a side salad. It's a pretty casual lunch with matching wines. The falafel is slightly dry.

For mains, I had chosen the chorizo and prawn paella. There's a slight hint of spiciness and there's a good handful of prawns in the paella. It's more of a risotto than a paella as the rice is very moist. It's nice and filling! I'm no longer hungry! I get back on the wines and feel a bit more drunk.

MW ops for the steak as he's not prawn fan. The meat is cooked medium well (no option to request otherwise) on a bed of mash and is served with a side of broccolini. Lunch is lovely and MW enjoys the steak.

For dessert, I order the sticky date pudding (below) and MW orders the panna cotta. The sticky date pudding is more like a moist cake drizzled in sauce. The group agrees that it's missing  a serious amount of sauce to make it a legit sticky date pudding. Regardless, I devour dessert as it's tasty. MW also devours the little panna cotta as well.

I still feel quite drunk after lunch. I make a conscious effort to slow down at the next stop. 

The group was split up depending on which choice you made
  • Option 1: Hunter Valley Wine Tour with basic lunch (one course) with a glass of wine $125
  • Option 2: Hunter Valley Wine Tour with a 2 course lunch with two glasses of wine $155
  • Option 3: (Which I was on) Hunter Valley Wine Tour with 3 course lunch with matching wines $165
I've had a lovely day so far!!! Stay tuned for part 2 of my Zepher Tour of the Hunter Valley and see how this adventure transpires. Go to the Zepher website for full deets.

Weekend Food Escapes was invited by Zepher Tours as guests. All words, photos and words are my own. 

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