Monday, November 17, 2008

Hunter Valley

This weekend, a group of us (much, but not all of the wine club) made it to Hunter Valley, which is the wine growing region near Sydney. We drove up Saturday morning and came back mid-day on Sunday, which provided a brief break from the city during which I tried not to obsess about how much I have to do. It's getting to crunch time as the term ends, and I am not so happy to be reminded, emphatically, that I am actually here to study.

On Saturday we stopped at the following wineries:
1) Ernest Hill - this was the first place I tried a wine made from a hybrid grape called Chambourcin that's very popular here.
2) Peacock Hill Vineryard
3) Calais Estate - we had a nice, but very slow lunch at their Veranda restaurant, and I had fun taking photos of their gorgeous purple tree,
their skyscapes,

and my friends.
4) I forget. A very nice lady served us, but I really forget. Oops. On the way there, we saw an amazing storm blow in over the vines.
5) Oakvale Wines

After the wineries closed, we headed to the town of Abermain, where we had found a reasonably priced hotel. The Abermain Hotel was quite a trip. The whole place seemed like it had been frozen in time since 1947, except for the people hanging out in the pub that took up most of the ground floor. They had made it to 1993 before time stopped. And/or they were just characters.

After much group indecision and confusion, including a brilliant moment of cross cultural aggravation when Anne was denied entrance to an 18+ venue for not carrying an official ID, for the second time this week, we made it to the town of Cessnock, where we had a fairly good, but VERY slow thai dinner.

Upon our return to the Abermain Hotel we hung out in the bar and listened to the Brazillian Brothers band play classics from the 80s and early 90s, and watching the scene. I was very excited by the fact that it seemed the locals had designated spots at the bar. José made a number of conquests, but sadly, was too choosy to decide between the guy in the half shirt and the woman who was so drunk she couldn't speak but kept trying.

The next morning, after a very yummy breakfast cooked by our hostess at the hotel, we headed out to find a chocolate tasting. Or a cheese tasting. Instead we found a number of very touristy shops, and some pretty good sparkling. Although I have to admit, I find the idea of sparkling red wine very strange, and I really can't get excited about trying to taste the difference between sparkling merlot, and sparkling cabernet sauvingnon. Perhaps I have become, after all this wine exposure, a snob? The strangest, but perhaps best, espcially if you've got a sweet tooth like mine, was the sparkling botrytis semillion. At that point it's really not wine, but rather sparkling alcoholic sugar water. Yum.

So that was my adventure in Hunter Valley. I'm exhausted and incredibly behind on work, but it was definitely worth it. If only to have the occasion to take this shot:

And here's the recap of all the photos, for those of you who are gluttons for punishment.

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