Now, a few months later, they’ve asked us to share our Honeymoon, or in our case our local Mini-moon.
We had plans to go on a Euro adventure, as like many others, we wanted to see exotic destinations that we’ve not been to yet. However, during our wedding planning, we slowly started to realise that we may not be able to stretch the budget far enough to get us there – so we looked at going local.
It doesn’t sound as glamorous as Europe when people ask you ‘where are you going for your Honeymoon?’ and you answer ‘the Hunter Valley’ but we’re OK with that because we have the rest of our lives to see Europe and so many other destinations – so really, why do it all at once?!
We’d been to the Hunter Valley on day trips a few times before, visited the Hunter Valley Gardens and driven around the area but never did any winery tours. Danie doesn’t usually drink wine, so we never thought to do one. But the start of a new life together meant the start of new experiences. So we drove up to the Hunter the day after our wedding.
We spent two nights at Estate Tuscany in a quaint little cottage style room at the start of April. Our accommodation was a wedding gift from our bridal party, selected from a short list of places Danie and I had begun searching to stay at. So until the actual day of our wedding, we had no idea which one they had booked for us!
Our room was neat and tidy with a little outdoor terrace that looked onto the back of the estate and a pond – it was so peaceful! Although we didn’t sit at the little table and admire the view, we did explore the grounds a little. If the weather was a tad warmer, we would have spent some time by the pool, but being the start of April, it was a bit too chilly for a swim!
We had dinner that first night at the restaurant connected to the property called ‘The Mill’. This was given to us by Danie’s work colleagues as a wedding gift and it was the first highlight of our Mini-moon. The food we had was delicious and so well presented! Being April and the start of the week, not many other diners were there, so it made for an extra special dinner, cosy and intimate with just two other tables filled. We did however capture breakfast in the restaurant and the view was amazing, especially with the crisp blue skies!
We selected from a set menu and we were not disappointed! We, unfortunately, didn’t get any pictures of our food, each time it came to the table we were too impatient and started eating – but I did capture the wine we chose to go with our meal.
The following day we had another surprise gift from our bridal party, in the way of a horse and cart wine tour. Normally it’s not something I would personally pick, especially being such a cliché ‘couples’ tour, but it was highlight number two of our Mini-moon!
We were picked up from our accommodation in a mini bus and only had to pick up another couple so it was again, an intimate little group of us. Geoff, our tour guide and owner of Hunter Valley Horses was very informative and quite witty, which made for some friendly banter and entertainment. We drove a little way and stopped to get into the cart and meet our horses for the day.
The wine tour took us to four different wineries with olive, cheese and chocolate tastings along the way. Lunch was also included at Blaxland Restaurant. Needless to say, this was another delicious meal and this time we took a picture so we could remember to come back next time!
McGuigan Wines was one of our first cellar door stops where we got to see all their award winning wines and trophies. We then visited the olive centre for some olive oil tasting. The tour took us through some farmland and was a very relaxing and scenic ride – we even got to see wallabies and kangaroos out in the open, which was amazing.
We stopped at three other wineries along the way and purchased many bottles of wine. One of our favourite cellar doors was Tamburlaine Organic Wines, where we came away with a few new bottles of wine and even managed to get Danie into a red! Our usual wine selection is sweet whites, so it was surprising when even Danie enjoyed one of their red wines.
Lunch at Blaxland Restaurant was next and we couldn’t go past steak and chips, we even had this amazing damper as part of the included lunch and had some time to just walk the area before we were off to another cellar door, Pepper Tree Wines. Their estate was just beautiful, even with the bit of rain we got caught in.
We finished our day off with some cheese and chocolate tasting before we were brought back to our accommodation. We really enjoyed our day out and it gave us some places to come back to next time we visit.
As we only stayed for two nights, we checked out of our little home of the last few days. The sun came out for us and the colours of blue, green, yellow and red just showed how amazing the Hunter can be, even in the cooler months. So we decided to stay a little longer and visit other wineries that some friends had recommended. One was on a beautiful property but unfortunately wasn’t open.
We then drove back toward Pokolbin for one last stop at Tempus Two, where we bought more wine before we headed home later that afternoon.
Our Mini-moon was a relaxing few days away as ‘wifeys’ and we can’t wait to come back and explore it a little more and of course go back to our favourite places again. We’d probably check opening times of some of the wineries we’d like to visit and ensure they are open, but otherwise, we wouldn’t change much else! The horse and cart tour gave us a really fun way to see some of the wineries and scenery as well as got us both into some new flavours, which I guess is always the main reason for visiting the Hunter Valley region!
If you are like us and your budget gets a bit tight, there’s nothing wrong with taking a short, local ‘staycation’ just to escape. Take in the events of the last few days (getting married for one!) and enjoy being together in the moment. You can always save for that dream holiday, wherever that may be in the world, but of course don’t wait too long – put your plans in motion as soon as you see specials to the places you want to visit and stick to that Honeymoon you both deserve!
Ms Zebra Says: What a fun few days to debrief, relax and drink a bit of delicious wine!! The perfect mini-moon after a hectic ride planning and enjoying a wedding! Thanks for sharing.