The Hunter Valley region is undeniably beautiful and i'm so lucky to have it close to home in Newcastle! There is so much on offer here including award winning wines and foods, stunning landscapes full of vineyards and history and there is no better way to experience it all than by horse!
Hunter Valley Horses offers a unique experience by stopping off at different wineries by horse carriage through the landscape and vineyards. Being a Friday it was just myself and a lovely couple from Sydney on today's tour which made it feel personal and intimate and we could take things at our own pace. Our guide for the day, Geoff, was so friendly and had me smiling and laughing the whole time!
As we made ourselves comfortable on the carriage we started to trot off to our first winery. Riding past the vineyards was beautiful and definitely beats seeing the view from out of a car window!
Our first stop was to McGuigan Wines, a winery that has won quite a number of awards and were so generous on providing us with some of their best selling wine, in fact all the wineries we visited gave us plenty of tasting samples! The interior was huge and proudly displayed were the bottles of wines looking all immaculate on the shelves. The staff here are so friendly and very bubbly (must be because of the aroma of wine wafting through the air!) but one staff member in particular really stood out and her name is Ting Ting, her personality is so infectious and made the experience for us great!
We got to sample a variety of different wines including reds, whites and dessert wines. I'm not going to lie, i'm not the biggest fan of wine but was happy to try some on offer and while I didn't find one I quite liked it was very fascinating learning about the history of the wine.
Hopping back onto the carriage we then made our way to our next tasting spot and this place is right up my alley, focussing more on the gourmet food side of the Hunter Valley, The Hunter Olive Centre!
I can't even begin to describe how much I love this place, there are so many samples on offer including oils, dukkah, sauces, marinates, jams, chutneys, herbs and spices! It's safe to say that I had a try of everything in here, except for the spicy stuff as i'm not the biggest fan. The ingredients taste so fresh and you could most likely hear me saying omg at pretty much every sample I tasted! I could have easily spent the whole day in this one spot! They also had a small collection of handmade soaps and beauty products which smelt amazing. I couldn't leave this place without buying something so I treated myself to the Sticky Rib Sauce because that was so delish!
Right next door to The Hunter Olive Centre is our next stop for tasting, the wine part of the Pokolbin Estate. It's hard to believe that this stunning looking building was once destroyed by a devastating fire back in 2011. This winery was also very generous with allowing us to sample many wines and it was great learning about the history of the Pokolbin Estate.
Boarding the carriage again we made our way through some more beautiful vineyards before heading to our next stop, Tamburlaine! This winery is simply gorgeous and has a real medieval vibe. The entrance made my eyes light up with its huge "TAMBURLAINE" sign, knight statue and stunning vine archway!
The name Tamburlaine came from a play called "Tamburlaine the Great" which is about a 14th century ruler renowned for being one of the most inspirational leaders of his time. Tamburlaine has become Australia's largest producer of organic wines with vineyards in the Hunter Valley and Orange region. We spent a good while at this place sampling wines and having a chat to Mitchell, one of the wine consultants at Tamburlaine, who was very down to earth. In the room next door a whole heap of people were snacking on pies and the smell wafting through the air was delicious!
Although this was a full day tour, Geoff was lovely enough to drop me off back to my car half way through as I had a horse riding experience to attend to! So after saying goodbye to Geoff and the lovely Sydney couple, I made the short 10 minute drive to where the horse riding would take place, which is also operated by Hunter Valley Horses.
On arrival I found out that I would be the only one on tour with the guide for this one hour ride but that suited me just fine, it just meant that my guide would be the main model in my photos which she didn't mind one bit! After gearing up with my helmet I was paired with a beautiful horse named Flea and we were off!
We went at a very cruisey and relaxing pace which worked in my favour because it certainly isn't easy photographing on horse back when you're moving side to side, but I did an alright job don't you think! We rode through beautiful bush land, past open paddocks and even through vineyards. The view was absolutely stunning and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect afternoon, we even saw a group of kangaroos on the way back!
If you find yourself in the beautiful Hunter Valley region and want to experience what's on offer, I can't recommend Hunter Valley Horses enough! It is honestly the best and most enjoyable way to see the region and taste the wines and foods grown here. Thank you Hunter Valley Horses for such a wonderful day!