Fancy drinking samples of wine all day? Sydney’s Amazing Coach Tours offers $59 full day tours to the Hunter Valley every weekend via Groupon.
Sydney Amazing Coach Tours have recently done a lot of deals and discounts on Groupon, Scoopon and DealsExtra sites and are designed not only enjoy a relaxing & fun ride, but you will take away memories that will last a life time.
Depart from Liverpool at 5:30am, Central at 7:20 or Hornsby at 8:10. Since I live around Hornsby, the latter was a better option- SLEEP IN!! Once you get out of Hornsby station! head down the stairs onto George Street and wait at the bus bay opposite Florence Street.
For the day we went, there was a full bus. Seats were comfortable, spacious, clean and standard for a coach. From Hornsby, it’s a two hour drive to the first winery and he bus driver, Matt, was awesome enough to out Back To The Future on the TV!
Our first stop was the Kelman Vineyard, the only residential vineyard, which started in 1999. The bottles here are slightly cheaper than at other wineries but at the same time, everyone who works in this winery has a real passion for wine. Collin, our guide, loves his job because he is the wine taster!
The cottage is really cute and we stop for a toilet break before heading into the shed where we were greeted with wine glasses on top of wine barrels. Collin made sure that it didn’t matter if we were aligned to a wine barrel but it’s the wine glass which is a necessity!
Just a little FYI for the wine noobs (no, I’m not looking at anyone!), all wine is exceptional at the Hunter. Everyone has different tastes so that’s the reason why we have wine tastings!
We learn to smell and taste Sparkling Chardonnays, Rose, Shiraz, Tempanillo, and most importantly Semillon, the speciality of Hunter Valley! The one drink my friends and I agreed on that was the best was the moscato. I feel that our group has a very sweet taste so apologies if this blog isn’t suited for you.
After the splashes of the six wines, we go onto the olive oils and vinegar tastings. There was a small table where we took out some delightful bread and everyone pretty much scrambled to get it! I wished there were two tables but we were one of the first to get there so it wasn’t too bad.
First vineyard and we’ve already got the wines! The guys here were genuinely passionate, honest and informative. It’s obviously not their full time job but they love what they do!
Apparently coaches are not allowed alcoholic beverages so the amazing coach tours were small enough to have some crates at the bottom of the bus. It’s a bit risky considering you don’t know how honest people are but you’ve sometimes gotta take the risk!
The second place we went to was called Kevin Sobels Wines. They are the sixth generation and your taste testing is done in their wine tasting.
It’s fascinating seeing the large silver tanks with thousands of litres of wines, then bottled up without labels, and then the stacks of boxes with wine. You feel like you’re in a factory!
The explanations of wines on this end were minimal. It was great how they kept on pouring their delicious wines but I wished they talked more about which wines matched which kinds of foods etc.
The bottles of wines here were similar to the ones from Kelman in price but hey also had fortified wines. Fortied means the wine barrels are reused from previous wines, making it stronger and sweeter. I do like them a lot.
It’s around 12 so we also have a picnic lunch consisting of cold chicken, pasta salad, potato salad, cheese and crackers and bread rolls. It’s not too fancy and the buffet style setting is actually quite pleasant- I just wished me had some wine with our meal!
We were a bit worried that the markets weren’t going to be on since the weather has been playing up but the tents were up and the happy faces. There were delicious honey varieties including roasted almonds, creamed honey gift packs, little jewellery things, Christmas decorations…there was the usual markets mix.
Lindeman was our next stop. It was fancy, enough said. When making our way to the huge shed, we passed signs with wedding packages on there…I think it was approx $75 per person for wine only.
We each got a small glass and had a seat where the pouring started! I don’t think I mentioned this earlier but the tasting glasses are designed so you can clearly smell the flavours of each wine. I usually don’t have a sniff before I consume my beverages (lol) but the lady here walked us through the process of wine tastings- sniff, swirl, observe, taste, taste, taste.
By this stage, you could possibly feel a bit tipsy if you have drunk every single drop poured in your glasses. What I would recommend for wineries is to have a bit of food to compliment the drinks. Here, we had some cheese and crackers which made the red wine taste better.
The wine we all agreed on was the moscato. It was a pity that they didn’t give us a sheet with all the wines we tasted so we could mark down the ones we had….their loss I guess. Nevertheless, we got a six pack and were on our way to being the alcoholic group of the bus pack!
We had a little bit of chill time and wandered around the vineyards. Such a gorgeous backdrop!! By the way, don’t try to eat the little grapes on the vines…they will be sour!
The International Winemaker of the Year 2009, 2011, 2012 is McGuigan wines. Their warehouse is huge and here were heaps of people!! I must say, they are pretty advanced with technology and if you download their app or something, they do have some daily specials.
We were led to the wine tasting room where there were barrels and barrels of wine. I hope they don’t tumble over!
The lady who did the explaining and pouring had a good sense of humour and considering it was the end of the day, we were “wine-ing up” here. I really like the setting of the place as the horseshoe arrangement makes it easy to hear.
At the tasting here, we do around 9 samples. What’s unique about this is that you try samples which are only available from the McGuigan Cellar Door. That’s right- you can’t buy it anywhere else!
One of the noteable wines we taste is the “Black Label Red”. At first we’re like… Whiskey…wait what?? Ok, it’s a hilarious name but it didn’t suit my taste buds. Anywho, my favourite was the 2014 Late Picked Traminer. Yes, it’s another dessert wine but it tastes like lychee iced wine! Amazing!
An interesting fact: the Hunter Valley only supplies 2% of Australian wines. Are you kidding? Why are we not supporting our local wineries?
After buying some wine, we go back to the bus and head to our final destination: the Hunter Valley Gardens. It’s a pretty cute marketplace of shops including the cookie shop, British Lolly shop, the Chocolate factory and souvenir shops. Our bus got split into two and my group went to the cookie place first! The super sweet cookies are $2.50 each and you get to try as many samples as you want! And check out the cookie jars!
At the British Lolly Shop, it was pretty much the standard. I mean, there’s one at Darling Harbour so we weren’t too keen.
The Chocolate Factory was absolutely packed to the brim! I had a chocolate covered coffee bean and that was pretty good. I guess this was more for the chocolate lovers but we were sweeted out thanks to the cookies we had previously.
Then it was our turn to go do the wine tasting. The place was like a bottle shop and they packed all of us into a bench to try their platters of chocolate pieces and wine! I think by this stage we weren’t as keen on the wine but the chocolate was like ..amazing. Take note: the caramel one is tops!
We got through semillons, shirazes, chardonnays, the whole lot! I loved the enthusiasm of the lady who took us through it even though she knew it was our last tasting. There were some super savings for the company: spend $30 and you’ll receive a free bottle of wine. That’s almost buy 2 get 1 free!
On the way back to Hornsby, we watched Back To the Future III. We were exhausted but honestly, this was an awesome tour and I can’t believe we drank so much!! Would definitely do this again! (Probably in Mudgee, Barossa or something like that).
Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)
Event (Hunter Valley Wine Tour): 4.5/5
Would I recommend going on a full day Hunter Valley tour with Sydney’s Amazing Coach tours? If drinking wine all day tinkles your fancy, then I would recommend going ona. Hunter a Valley wine tour. If you like an incredible saving, a clean bus and friendly driver, then Sydney’s Amazing Coach tours will set you up!
Highlight: I really like how straight-to-the-point the driver was with every destination. I must admit, I’ve been a LOT of day tours when I was travelling abroad and this one was more than better than average, especially in terms of organisation. He was prompt with arriving at Hornsby Station and always giving us the exact time we should get back not yeh bus. Before every destination, he would give us a history and short description of the place, then let us know where the toilets were- pretty dam important!
Suggestion of improvement: If buying bottled of wine, you have to store it underneath the coach. I mean, we are pretty honest people and took our own labelled wines but there could’ve been that possibility. We had a permanent marker which was good but it would’ve been better to have a tagging system where the driver could staple one half of a raffle ticket to a wine bag and give the other half for the buyer to keep, then at the end of the day, the the buy gives back the same number to the driver to collect the goods. Could be good if there was a problem but I won’t be complaining if extra bottles of wine were in the crates!
Official hashtag: #HunterValley