Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Hunter Valley preparing for a month-long party

The Hunter Valley is back baby. 

One of Australia's favourite adult playgrounds is pulling in visitors following Covid-19 and few regions can match the Hunter when it comes to cellar doors, restaurants, distilleries, golf courses and day spas.

But with numbers still down and precautions in place you won't have anyone jostling you for position at tastings. 

Even better the new-release 2021 semillons from star producers like Thomas Wines and De Iuliis are being released right now. 

Winemaker Andrew Thomas and chef Andy Wright

With myriad attractions for wine lovers and gourmets, including chef Andy Wright and winemaker Andrew Thomas (above), the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival returns throughout the month of June. 

Presented by Wine Selectors, the 2021 Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival will be a celebration of the region's outstanding wines, diverse and abundant fresh local product and the local creative talent. 

The program is a mix of more than 30 daily and weekly tastings and experiences, alongside some innovative and unique one-off events. I taste tasted some of them for you last weekend. 

There will be gourmet lunches and winery dinners, winemaking, blending and cellaring masterclasses, wine and food pairings, cooking classes and picnics. Even fireworks  - although I am not sure what that is about. 

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring our signature festival to life again this year after a challenging 2020." said Christina Tulloch, president of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association.

"Our reputation as a producer of award-winning wines and home to hatted restaurants is at an all-time high, so we can’t wait to be able to offer consumers the opportunity to experience some of these great wine and food offerings first-hand.” 

The advice is to book right away for any event that catches your fancy. Many events are already close to sold out, and numbers are restricted. 

“This year’s program is packed with great events and with so much interest in wine and food tourism post-COVID that we recommend people book all aspects of their visit early, including accommodation, wine tastings, events and experiences as well as restaurants," says Amy Cooper, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association. 

The full program, with something for all wine and food lovers, is now live at www.winecountry.com.au/events/wine-and-food-festival

Among the highlights are: 

Grange vs the Hunter Daily 11am-5pm at Wine House Hunter Valley. The 2014 vintage of Penfolds Grange will be up against three local stars in Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz, Silkman Reserve Shiraz and Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea. 

The 100-metre Meal Every Sunday in June, talented chef Joey Ingram (above) will present a feast at which everything on your plate and in your glass has been grown within 100 metres of your restaurant table. Enjoy a kitchen tour followed by a three-course lunch in the hatted Margan restaurant.

Whispering Brook Olive Long Table Luncheon On Saturday, June 5 from noon to 4pm, Whispering Brook will host an al fresco Mediterranean-inspired lunch in its beautiful olive grove at Broke Fordwich (above). Indulge in a four-course menu designed by chef Frank Fawkner of EXP matched with single vineyard estate wines and live music. 

Feast at the Scarborough Family Homestead  Join the Scarborough family at their original homestead for a delicious winter feast on the evening of June 12, catered by Andy and Janet Wright of Pokolbin Catering Co. Enjoy canap├ęs on arrival, then move into the lovely homestead to enjoy dishes  cooked over hot coals in a wine barrel matched with superb wines from the cellar door-exclusive The Obsessive range. 

The Distinguished Dozen A rare opportunity to sample a dozen outstanding vintage of Thomas Wines' flagship Braemore Semillon and Kiss Shiraz along with a tasting plate from leading local chef Andy Wright followed by lunch in the winery. June 5: semillon, June 12: shiraz. Some of the wines you will taste are mind-blowing. 

Wine and beer festival: The ninth annual Hunter Valley Wine and Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, June 19 at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.  

Other standouts include a Winter Meet the Makers lunch at Bimbadgen Estate on June 20,  • 12-4pm with winemaker Richard Done, and the Wine House Grange Masterclass and lunch (above) on June 26. This features a masterclass hosted by former Brokenwood winemaking legend Iain Riggs AM, tastings of wines including Grange and Brokenwood Graveyard, lunch prepared by Andy Wright and a bracket of some of the finest 2019 vintage reds.  

# The writer was a guest of the De Iuliis Winemakers House (below), one of 80 local properties managed by Hunter Valley Stays and capable of catering for up to eight people in style. Call 0477 010 010 or email stays@huntervalleystays.com.au 

See https://www.gourmetontheroad.com/2021/02/stay-in-centre-of-hunter-valley-wine.html 

Stay tuned to Gourmet on the Road for features on several Hunter operatives mentioned here over the next couple of weeks.  


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