Saturday morning we were awake bright and early – with enough time to shower and have a leisurely breakfast before we got picked up by our tour bus. We chose to travel with the “Cheers Bus” for a vineyard tour. I was really impressed with the entire day – the choice of vineyards was excellent, the driver extremely knowledgeable, and loads of fun had by all. We were 11 in total on the tour, with the remaining 8 all girls having a family weekend away (aunts, sisters, and cousins) – it was a total hoot!! I’d definitely go with them again, and in fact we’re already considering a return trip ‘cos there’s so much still to see!
After picking up the other girls, we ventured out to Ivanhoe Wines – we had a private room set aside where Anne taught us about tastings and how to do it correctly to get the best out of the wines. We then set about with some wine tasting … not bad going at 10.30am!! haha. I must admit there were two of the wines that I loved, so they joined us for the van trip (in fact I fell in love with something at every single place -and have to admit spent up larger than planned).
Our next stop was the Iron Gate Estate – this had some of the most delicious wines, albeit expensive, and I loved them so much I bought two bottles of two of them … just divine! If Mum’s kind to me, I might even take a bottle each over to NZ to share 😉
Our host at Iron Gate was Jason, and he was another winner – the information he gave about the wines was superb, and even had us LOL when he picked on a couple of blonde comments from one of the girls in our group … she was lovely but oh so dopey haha. After the wine tastings here, and after spending up large, we were taken behind the scenes to the back room to see the modern vineyard at work – we got to see the stainless steel vats and oak barrels and learned each step of the wine making process … it was very educational. I have to admit I also fell in love with the building and the decor itself, and took loads of piccies here, so I’ll have to share … I just love the attention to detail they have to create a relaxing and stunning atmosphere (this is where the photo-heavy bit comes in!!).
Our next port of call was to Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – the views at the top of the hillside where the vineyard is perched on is spectacular, and we had to get the driver to take a photo of us all posting in front of the view! We also nearly killed our driver off as he had to carry our purchases out for us … we made the most of a discounted sale!! We had a private area at this winery as well, where we were taught all about their wines – to be honest the guy who lead this talk was quite pompous, and none of us knew where to look as he sat in front of us on a barstool with his legs parted almost into the splits … after sampling so many wines we also got a bit of the giggles, so that helped to throw some joy into the proceedings …
After Audrey Wilkinson we headed off for a 1.30pm lunch at the Potters Hotel & Brewery – here you could sample beers if you wanted to, as they are a micro-brewery brewing their own beers. I just had a teeny tiny sample of their “Bock”, which is a black beer – it was reasonably nice, but the ladies at the table who’d bought samples of the other beers weren’t nearly as impressed! The food here was OK – my lamb shanks were tough and dry, but the other meals seemed to be OK. It was definitely a great idea to have a full meal at lunchtime, to help soak up the alcohol, especially as we were planning to stay in at home for our evening meal.
Back on the road once again, we headed to Lucy’s Run vineyard … this winery doesn’t advertise at all, and isn’t even listed in the phone book – they only make approx 800 cases of wine annually, but oh boy they’re good wines! The owner is an ex-Cathay Pacific pilot, who not only makes wines but also marinated olives, olive oil and Dukkah … we were in sampling heaven. Another two bottles of wine, a jar of olives and some Dukkah fell into my bag, I don’t know how!! I forgot to take any photos of this vineyard (or the next one, come to think of it – me thinks the wine tasting was starting to take its toll haha).
After Lucy’s Run, we drove to our supposed final vineyard for the day – Ernest Hill Wines. Yet again, the wines were superb, and another two bottles fell into my bag. The host was fun and informative, and we learnt even more about wine. While we were there, the driver found out I love white port, so he sneaked in an unplanned stop especially for us on the way to our final stop … we went to Robyn Drayton Wines, and I have to agree her White Port is the best in the land … seriously!!! Although a little expensive, it’s well worth it! It comes in a glass decanter, and we all loved it so much the three of us all came home with a bottle! When tasting we were told to only drink half of what Robyn poured for us, then she squeezed a couple of drops of fresh lime juice into the remaining port, and oh-la-la what a wonderful blend that is!!! Sheer bliss!!!
Our final stop on the bus tour was to the Pokolbin Village Shops, where we had cheese tastings at the Smelly Cheese Shop … next door was also the Gelato shop, and Chocolate and Fudge shop … gourmet heaven!! And yes, we all found something here to tempt us too!
After that we waddled back to the bus to be chauffeured home to our respective residences. We then got our dinner goodies together and headed into the common lounge room where we spread out our banquet, cracked open a bottle of wine (after chilling out a bit over a glass of lemonade), and ended up in the lounge for the rest of the night. We got to meet one of the other couples staying there, and spent a few hours in their company while we ate and drank. Here’s a view of our antipasto supper with lots of fresh cheeses, pate, crackers, Turkish bread and dips, cold meats, vegetable crudites, fresh fruit (kiwifruit, grapes, strawberries) … and just for me, blue cheese, various stuffed olives, semi sun-dried tomatoes, stuffed bell peppers, artichoke hearts and fresh dates (the others don’t like any of those, so that was my own little treat plate). We’d also bought various types of chocolates, but by then we were too stuffed to eat any, so finished off the night with a glass of the complimentary port instead 😀
All-in-all a VERY good day enjoyed by all 😀