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Weddings and Wine

It came up on me all of a sudden that I would have to leave work altogether on Friday and zip up to the Hunter Valley with Pete, and his friend Evan, for the wedding of their friend Adam to his longtime partner Linda. So unfortunately there’s no recipes this post!

It began with a bit of confusion as to where we were going to have to go, but at last we were told it was the Hunter Valley. And because that’s a bit of a drive from where we live we decided to set out a little earlier than we had planned before. As it turned out this was a marvellous idea. We arrived at our accommodation, a beautiful place called Peppers Guest House, in good time. At the front desk I asked the receptionist for a map of the area, and she not only provided one, but then made a recommendation for a winery we should nip out to see before the evening was through! There are a lot of wineries in the Hunter Valley, which is famously referred to as Wine Country. But even I wasn’t prepared for the sheer beauty and frequency of the various wineries. However, Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard was our first stop, and I couldn’t have been happier with the recommendation.

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Hello readers! Here I am! I’m normally a bit shy about sharing photos of myself with people I’m not really very close to. But the sheer beauty of our holiday destination has convinced me that I need to share it! So here I am, in one of the many rows of grapes at Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard. The setting was perfect. It was right on top of a hill, and so it had a fantastic view right out across the region. The wine was refreshing and delicious, and Pete picked up a bottle of red.

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It was absolutely stunning, and I do recommend it as a place to visit for those in the area. But we were also in luck in that Hungerford Hills, a winery of interest because it shares my family name, was also open until 6pm on the night we arrived. We nipped down the hill and around, and found ourselves popping right out at their front door! I couldn’t resist snapping a photo with the sign, and I was very pleased at their beautiful selection of wines – and other gourmet products like spices, vinegars and so on. But of course the best thing there was the fact that they sold gluten-free mango chutney, my father’s favourite flavour of chutney. I didn’t hesitate to nab him the last bottle! Pete bought another red there, while although I loved the early bird semillion I was more keen on the chutney, and then we were off for dinner!

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Harrigans Irish Pub was located not that far from the Guest House, and it blew our minds. Pub food hasn’t always been a lot of fun for me in the past, and less so now that we know I’m gluten intolerant. However, Harrigans had quite a few gluten-free items to choose from, and the service was good. Both Evan and Pete got black angus steaks, the size of which astounded me. I got the twice cooked duck marlyand and was absolutely delighted at how much meat I ended up with. I’m used to ordering chicken or duck, etc, and getting scraps of meat with more bones than I know what to do with. But this was a hefty dish, and in the end I had to have a bit of help in finishing it. But the men loved their steaks, raved about the chips, and I was absolutely in love with the duck! We finished with a gluten-free chocolate mousse and meringue stack for dessert, had a quick dip in the pool and the spa at the guest house, and then watched a movie until it was time to go to bed.

Breakfast at the Guest House was also fantastic. I was able to get gluten-free bread, and we stuffed ourselves on fresh fruit, sausages, eggs, tomato and bacon, as well as mushroom, orange juice, coffee and more. The men dipped into the range of sweet pastries while I stuck with mounds of delicious fresh fruit. We then nipped across the grass to Peppers Creek Barrel room, the winery our accommodation was attached to, and investigated their own little antique shop. After that we were out again, hitting up a local grocer which had a splendid chocolate shop, and a tea and jam shop! Pokolbin has some gorgeous local produce, so this grocer is well worth the stopover! We then moseyed on over to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, where we stocked up on delicious chocolate goods and treated ourselves to some of the best hot chocolates I have ever drunk!

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Then it was on to our final official stop for the afternoon before the wedding, Pukara Estate, to taste the olive oils and vinegars. I was in love with their truffle oil and their caramelised onion jam. I would have bought both if I had thought I could get enough use out of them. Unfortunately the onion jam contained xantham gum, which would make dad quite sick on the stomach, so I left it. But I did discover a delicious jar of basil pesto, perfect to use to make a nice lunch for work and so I picked that up. On the way back we decided to stop at Tempus Two, another winery, which also housed a few restaurants. We ate at Oishi for lunch, so that we wouldn’t get hungry during the wedding ceremony, and I highly recommend it. It was then nap time for the men, while I worked on a draft of this post.

After this it was time to get all gussied up and to head out to the front garden for the wedding! It was a beautiful affair, and I certainly had fun dancing the night away after all the meals and speeches were had. I’m very happy for Adam and his lovely bride! It seems a shame now that we hadn’t had even more time there around the wedding, but what time we did spend there was wonderful. We’ve made up our minds to return again with another group, and this time to spend at least a week there going on various tours and trying even more activities. I wouldn’t mind investigating some of their cooking classes, the Hunter Valley Gardens, and even doing a little horse riding!

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