Down Under Diary 11: Pass The Wine, Please

It seems that Sydney cannot make it’s mind up about the weather as this week started off with a day trip to the beach with Katie. Seriously, look at those blue skies… how is this winter?!

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I went from wearing coats and jumpers to a crop top and a floral skirt within the space of a few days, not that I am complaining. It felt nice to crack out the factor 50 once more and feel the sun on my skin!

We went to Balmoral Beach which is quickly becoming my favourite Sydney beach. It is just so calm and quiet! Because it is a bay, the water isn’t rough so I imagine it makes for perfect swimming conditions for anyone like me who isn’t the most confident swimmer.

Later in the week, Jack and I went to Luna Park at night to see the Vivid lights. Luna Park is one of my favourite things about Sydney just because it’s so different to anything else I have ever been to. I always feel like I’m an extra in ‘Grease’ whenever we go. I was a little disappointed that Luna Park’s contribution to Vivid was to have a light show projection and little else, but it was a visually stunning light show and Luna Park still holds a special place in my heart.

Our ‘Big Event’ this weekend was a Hunter Valley winery tour. Brittany, one of the members of Girls Love Travel that I have made friends with, organised the trip and there was a mixture of men and women going which meant that Jack came too.

For the tour, we used a company called Amazing Co and because 14 of us went, we got a minibus to take us from Sydney to the Hunter Valley to visit four different wineries for wine tastings for $122 each. The only thing not included in that price was lunch, but everything else about the day was organised and scheduled for us which meant that we could just go and enjoy the experience. Having never been to a winery before and knowing little about wine other than my budget usually just afforded me special offer rose, I didn’t know what to expect but I had a really, really good day.

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The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky as we left home to go to our meetup point. We were picked up by Central Station at 8am, which felt a little early for a Saturday! Our driver, Gary, was great – he was really friendly and let us have control over the music. Jack and I were the back of the bus rebels, which mostly consisted of us looking out of the window at the beautiful scenery and annoying Katie and Tom in front of us.

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The first winery we went to was Bimbadgen Estate. This was the most picturesque winery, with stunning views, an outside seating area full of flowers with a pizza oven in the centre. It definitely had a boutique, romantic feel about it which was really nice. I enjoyed the taste of most of the wines here, too. If I was going to go back to the Hunter Valley for an overnight stay, I would definitely go there for a meal.

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The second winery, McGuigan wines, had my favourite selection of wine. There wasn’t a single one that I didn’t enjoy and we were given vouchers that meant if we ordered $100 of wine we would get $50 off.  We haven’t ordered any yet, but if we were going buy wine from anywhere we went to on the day then I would definitely order from there.

We stopped off for lunch at Matilda Bay Brewhouse which seemed to be really popular and was in a really picturesque spot – I don’t think there have been many more picture perfect locations than this bridge.

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As a vegetarian, Matilda Bay Brewhouse didn’t offer the widest choice but it definitely catered for everyone else. Their pizzas looked so good that I almost wished that I enjoyed the taste of meat! Jack and Tom got a beer sampling paddle each – impressive after all of the wine we had just had.

The third winery was De luliis Wines. I have to say, this wasn’t my favourite winery and I only liked the dessert wine there, but most other people really enjoyed their wines. The good thing about going to four different wineries throughout the day was that everyone’s taste was catered for in at least one of the wineries which meant that everyone enjoyed their day.

The last winery was called Hope Estate and seemed to be the biggest one on the tour. Music concerts were held on the grounds there, with people like Elton John and Tim McGraw performing there soon. The lady who gave our group the tasting session here was my favourite of the day – she was really friendly, knew lots about the product and made sure we all enjoyed ourselves. Plus the wine here was really good too!

We left the Hunter Valley around 4pm and got back to Sydney at 6.30. The tour was incredibly well organised, with McDonalds stop offs on the way there and back to prepare our stomachs, 45 minutes in each place for tastings and our brilliant driver Gary made sure everything went smoothly. I couldn’t have asked for a better day out with a nicer group of people!

After a Saturday of early starts, wines and travelling, Jack and I had a relaxing Sunday that involved a trip to the library and making homemade pizzas. When we were in England, we used to stay at Jack’s parents cabin and one of our favourite things to do was to make pizzas, listen to music and have a bottle of wine together. Since being in Sydney, this is the first time we have done that. It was a nostalgic night and made the perfect end to yet another brilliant week in Sydney!

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