I hope you are well and looking forward to the briskness of Winter. Geoff and I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in the Hunter Valley. I’ve always wanted to cycle through vineyards and have a picnic lunch along the way. So I share a wonderful day we had earlier this month – we were blessed to have sunny, warm weather.
It was nice to be greeted with this sign at the place we stayed – Constable Vineyards.
After we arrived early Friday evening, just in time to watch the sun set – we celebrated with a glass of French champagne and nibbles. OK I know we are in a beautiful wine region of Australia, but we really enjoy a glass of French bubbles, especially to set the weekend off!
In the morning, before we hired our bikes, I went and bought some cheeses, pate, biscuits, sun-dried tomatoes, meats, olives, figs and bread to take on our picnic. I bought these from the Hunter Valley Cheese Company at 447 McDonalds Rd, just next to McGuigan Wines. They were absolutely delicious. I also brought along a rug, nice plastic wine glasses and plates. Oh I was so excited about having a picnic under a tree in the vineyard!
We hired our bikes from Grapemobile Bicycle Hire http://www.grapemobile.com.au (Ph 02 4998 7660) at 307 Palmers Lane, Pokolbin. I booked them the week before on the internet and I’m glad I did as they were very busy. We chose the cruisers as they looked the most comfortable, although they don’t have gears. If you require gears, hire the mountain bikes. There were only two occasions when there was a slight hill, and being a cyclist there was no way I was going to get off and push. We also asked to be picked up and dropped off at our accomodation (only an extra $10 per person). When we arrived at Grapemobile (which has it’s own vineyards) we were given a small glass of Sparkling Moscato. So our wine tasting started before we even got on our bikes haha.
Ready to go!!
We were given a very detailed (partly hand-drawn) map to follow, which included the Palmers Lane Trail. We also wore lanyards which allowed us to cycle on private property. Helmets were supplied, although we took our own.
Our first stop was Worthington’s Vineyard. We were greeted by a very lovely lady – Julie Worthington and her welcoming friend. Julie’s knowledge of wines and the region is outstanding. They also have beautiful gifts for sale. We were given a small cheese plate to enjoy when tasting the wines.
I won’t go into the details of the wines from each winery, I think its is something to be experienced without any preconceptions.
They also had some cheeses from Binnorie Dairy to purchase with a little bag and icepack. Why bother, I told Geoff, we have our cheese and food in our basket ready and waiting. Some other people from the bike group bought some as I looked on with envy.
We left Worthingtons and travelled through their property to Gillards Road. Next stop was Scarborough Wines.
The paths between Worthingtons and Gillards Road
The ride between these two properties takes you onto Gillard Road. It’s only a short ride, until you reach the “hill” up to Scarborough Wines. No problem, I thought. This path just might be the one where you need gears on your bike.
I didn’t realise how easy my road bike (at home) is to ride and how light it is and how great it is to have 18 gears, UNTIL I started riding up the path to Scarborough. As I mentioned before, I CYCLE, so there was no way I was stepping off. After we arrived huffing and puffing and dare I say, perspiring, the staff told us that most people walk their bikes. Yep…..I felt a little bit of pride creeping in.
We were greeted with another cheese tasting plate to enjoy with the wine tasting. I shouldn’t eat too much, I’ve got a lovely picnic basket full of goodies just waiting to be enjoyed under a tree in a vineyard…..any tree will do!!
I think I was trying to tell the lady all about Scarborough Wines!
Oh gosh, nice place right there for a picnic! But let’s push on.
Some views from Scarborough Wines
A bit of silliness
Heading back down that hill (doesn’t look that steep!!)
Next stop was Constable Estate just next to Scarborough at the end of Gillards Road. It was a total coincidence that we were staying there – we didn’t know it was part of the tour.
We took advantage of popping into our room for a break and Geoff went to lay down on the couch for an afternoon nap…….couldnt’ believe it. Absolutely no napping on this adventure, if you please.
If you have the time take a walk around the gardens, they are beautiful.
Geoff thinking he can pop in for a snooze – I think NOT!
Back on the road again and now we retrace our steps (or pedals) back to Palmers Lane, past the bike hire place and continue on to the next winery.
The views along the way were incredible.
By this stage it hasn’t taken us the one hour I thought it would, being a smarty pants. It’s now past 2pm and I still haven’t had my picnic lunch. Also the cheeses, pates etc etc have started to melt etc etc. I’m becoming a bit testy to say the least.
Geoff starts singing the song “Riding along on a pushbike honey etc etc”
We ride back past Grapemobile along Palmers Lane, cross over McDonalds Road and visit the next winery. We didn’t stay for too long, it’s taken us much longer than anticipated.
We cycle through more vineyards, can’t get enough of them and arrive at Calais Estate Winery. The lady who took us through the wine tasting knew so much and like the others was really lovely, so more wine tasting, more wine purchased!! When you purchase wines at any of the wineries, they will happily deliver them to the bike hire around 5pm. The rate we were going we knew we left it too late, so we just drove back and collected our wine purchases the next day.
Calais Estate have a restaurant if you don’t have a picnic basket full of goodies. We arrived a bit late I think.
I’m becoming a little weary and when placing my bike down, all my picnic essentials and wine fell out of my basket. It’s now 3:30pm………… this picnic thing isn’t going to happen I fear!
The gardens at Calais Estate are simple beautiful.
You might notice by the photos that the shadows are looking very long. That’s because it’s now around 4pm.
By now I know the picnic isn’t going to happen so I think what the heck, take lots of photos instead!!
Leaving Calais we just ride across the road to the next winery. The day is nearing a close so we just by-pass the next winery and head to the last winery on our list.
So we arrive at the last place on the list – Gemelli Estate. They were about to close but the lovely gentlemen gave us some wine tastings, and because he was so lovely, Geoff bought some more wine.
So now the sun is setting and we have about 2.5 kilometres to ride back. Easily done on my bike at home, that you can lift with your little finger, not so on these cruisers. Plus I’m a bit of a safety nerd, during the day I have lights flashing on my bike. So it’s a race back before the place closes. Did I mention before that I was hoping to have a picnic??
Well we arrive back by 5:45. Bikes returned, a bit of a laugh with the guys there, we get a lift back to our accommodation and I unpack my picnic lunch and decide to have it for dinner!! It was simply delicious.
The next day, we return to the vineyards to collect our wine. Our first stop was Worthington’s Vineyard.
That’s me without a bike or helmet.
It was after midday, it wasn’t busy so we purchased their cheese platter and did the wine tasting again, at a much more leisurely pace. We sat at one of their outdoor tables and enjoyed our picnic…..at last! I was so happy. Geoff did comment, however, that he would much prefer to have a picnic sitting at a table as opposed to lying on a rug under a tree! I hit him.
Thank you for coming along on our wine/cycle journey. If you have any questions, please comment below and I’ll get back to you.
Until next time.
Love Chris ♥