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Wednesday 18 February 2015

A stylish new way to learn about organic, biodynamic and natural wines

Richie Harkham is a talented young man; a successful actor, businessman, philanthropist and maker of kosher and natural wines at Harkham Wines in the Hunter Valley. 

Richie is running a little late because it is vintage, but he's still keen to talk about how his natural wines offer something different in the marketplace and Harkham says it made the first 100% preservative-free wine in the region. It is also the only certified kosher winery in the southern hemisphere and all the wines are unfined and unfiltered.
Richie Harkham conducts a private tasting

Harkham Wines, where all the fruit is hand-picked and hand sorted, is a genuine boutique operation, and just one of the stops on a brand new two-day tour devised by wine educator and freelance writer Daniel Honan focusing on organic, biodynamic and natural wine producers in the region.

Guests on The Wine Idealist Tours learn first-hand the differences between the three winemaker styles; touring the vineyards with viticulturists, tasting with winemakers and eating local organic produce along the way. 

The new tours take in the Hunter Valley’s best natural, organic and biodynamic producers, including Tamburlaine, Macquariedale, Krinklewood and Harkham Wines.
George Francisco in the Circa 1876 kitchen gardens

Honan has designed an itinerary that goes well beyond the standard bus tour and taste, it's a hands-on experience that includes overnight Accommodation at Harkham Windarra Lodge, all meals – including lunch at Restaurant Eighty Eight at Peppers Convent and a special winegrowers dinner at Circa 1876. 

Both are cooked by executive chef George Francisco from ethically-sourced and local organic produce. 

A tour of the kitchen garden is also included.

There are also gourmet picnics on the lawns at Krinklewood and organic breakfasts provided by Organic Feast and Momo.  

The dinner at Circa 1876 gives guests the chance to question sustainable winemakers on their philosophies one-on-one while consuming the various wines featured along with food. 

During the two days guests get the chance to see grapes fermenting, to do barrel tastings and learn insider secrets, as well as tasting grapes from the vine if the season is right and learning what cows and the moon have to do with fine wine. 
Mark Davidson in the Tamburlaine vineyards

Transport around the valley is provided by Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Tours in comfortable vehicles. 

The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest wine region. James Busby planted the first vines here back in 1824 - but innovation is alive and well. 

Honan is an unashamed advocate for sustainable winemaking and his enthusiasm shines through on his guided tours, which comprise either two-day all-inclusive tour or a special one-day bespoke tour. 

The tours will run twice seasonally, eight times a year, and prices start from $899 all inclusive for bookings made before March 31. 

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