Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hunter Valley

This wonderful area is one of the famous wine regions of Australia. We drove to the hamlet of Aberdeen NSW. But visited the wineries in and around Pokolbin NSW. As early as about 1850, some immigrants to Australia started growing grapes for wines in the Hunter Valley in a serious way. Not that I am a wine connoisseur, I am partial to sweet wines and any sweet wine might do for me. But we were told about this region by several Australians and since it is close to Sydney, our end stop, it was on our itinerary.
We also wanted to surprise Azure and Roel, motorcycle world travelers we know and hosted, who are working in a vineyard here. Both of them are winemakers and both know tons of stuff about wines. I call them wine experts. For years those two have made wine for the high end drinkers, for the people that know and appreciate the quality in their wines. But being adventure motorcycle riders for the last five years is, at the moment, more important to them then settling down someplace to make wines. Roel, a young Dutchman, has been on the road on his Honda African Twin (750cc) visiting places few have travelled such as Iran and East Timor. Roel met the American Azure, who rides her own Honda, a few years back. Ever since they met they have been inseparable. Our visit was a surprise, we did not tell them of our arrival. Carol planned it well, we received direction to their hideout from the winery itself, who did not spill the beans about our arrival. The surprise was perfect. We saw them Sunday afternoon, right after they took some time off for lunch. The great hello was a treat for them and us.
The winemaking facility Azure and Roel attend is a million dollar setup. The creation of wine by these two is an art that takes years of learning, attention to many small details and a good head for numbers and chemistry. As travelers, Roel and Azure find their wine making knowledge a true asset. In years to come they want to add to their skills in countries such as Argentina, Chile, South Africa and others. I am sure you can see that all this learning will benefit them in the long run. People will always drink wine. And good wines, the art of making good wines, will always be in demand. You might drink some of their creations sometime.
After we spent some time catching up on each other's news, after a great but not too expensive dinner out, they decided to give us a winery tour of other places the next day. Carol took this opportunity to send a few selected bottles of wine to her nephew, whom we visited while in Melbourne. Since I drove and had to pay attention to the roads I don't have too many pictures. But this area is perfect for growing wine. Warm, sunny, great soil and just the right combination of rain makes for a yearly, fantastic yield of grapes. While we visited Tyrrell, the oldest winery in the area, there are another 148 places that grow wines, too. Like always, if one place does a good business, others want to cash in on the bonanza and businesses will shoot up like mushrooms. Tyrrell started the wine making in the Hunter Valley region and after decades still produce outstanding quality wines, mainly for the domestic Australian market. A bottle at the winery will cost you between $20 to $75 dollars.
Yes they do make commercial wines for export to places like Europe, especially England, and lately to China but that is more in response to competition with the other wineries in the area, who almost exclusively sell to the mass market. Tyrrell, for Australia alone, is a quality oriented business creating exquisite wines for the palates of the true connoisseurs.
The day flew by in this good company. Roel took us on a private and extensive tour of Tyrrell's. Carol and Azure had some great wine tasting experiences. Azure spent time explaining where the grapes of each wine were grown, the flavors in each wine and how long each one should be aged for maximum quality. Carol enjoyed having this expertise and help in selecting some wines but she passed on the $86 Hunter Shiraz.
I limited myself, I was the driver. We reminisced over a coffee about riding our motorcycles in Mexico, the next part of the world Roel and Azure want to visit starting in May of this year. We shared some insights with them and gave them good tips for their visit to this fantastic country. In time, in years to come, someplace on this globe, we will run into them again. You can follow their blog here. Azure and Roel might take our advice and go to Alaska first then back down to Mexico. May in Mexico can be very hot on a bike, don't you think? How about taking your time, visit Alaska until August, then mosey down and start to visit MX in late September? Check out their blog, see what they will do!

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