The heavy rain follows us up the highway to the Hunter Valley, just over two hours north of Sydney. For many, rain is not conducive to a relaxing weekend away, especially when there are vineyards to explore. I however, love it. Thoughts of being curled up near a warming log fire, glass of wine in hand, delicious food and good company are simply perfect.
The sub-tropical climate of the Hunter Valley is known as one of the hottest and wettest regions in Australia. On hot days, mountains to the west and north provide relief by funnelling cool ocean breezes in to the area.
In the 1960’s the Hunter Valley produced its first commercial bottle of wine and is now home to one of Australia’s best wine regions.
|Lobby - Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley|
We check in to our accommodation at the Crowne Plaza, a deluxe resort situated amongst the picturesque vineyards in the suburb of Lovedale.
After a brief tour of the hotel we relax for a while in our room before lunch
at Redsalt - the hotel’s signature restaurant. Each year Redsalt plays host to
the Lovedale Long Lunch, a progressive food and wine trail event around seven
Lovedale vineyards held in late May.
Hosted by Scottish Chef Gavin Robertson and Lindsay Whaling the owner of Sandalyn Wines, we begin with alternate seared Atlantic salmon with Thai noodle salad, chilli lime reduction and char-grilled white Pyrenees lamb cutlets with ratatouille, potatoes and caramelised balsamic onions. The salmon is matched by a glass of Sandalyn Estate Verdelho and the lamb, a bold Shiraz. Both are really good.
Dessert is a white and dark chocolate cheesecake with berry compote and a cheese plate of Hunter Valley Brie and smoked cheddar with fruit chutney and lavosh.
After lunch, we explore some of the local vineyards and a during a visit to the Hunter Valley Cheese Shop, I literally bump into my high school English teacher who I was only talking about the night before with a close friend from school. A lovely surprise after all these years.
After stumbling across a cute little café called Enzo’s in nearby Pokolbin we share a plate of fresh hot scones with jam and cream for afternoon tea.
|Afternoon Tea @ Enzo's Cafe|
|Scones @ Enzo's|
Later that evening we relax next to the fire at the hotel’s lobby bar, home to an extensive whisky collection. After two delicious whisky cocktails we enjoy a hearty grilled steak in the restaurant.
|Amuse Bouche - Mushroom Soup|
|Lobster Salad Entree|
|Delicious Steak - served with roast roma tomato, a choice of potato purée, potato gratin or hand cut chips & a choice of condiment|
The next morning we indulge in spa treatments at the Tea Tree Spa. Pete opts for a relaxing massage and I choose an Eminence Organic facial which is heavenly.
|Tea Tree Spa|
From extensive conference facilities, an on site golf course, relaxing day spa, and complimentary kids club, the hotel holds wide appeal. Also, very exciting are plans to develop an on site brewery by owner of Sydney Brewery and maker of Sydney Cider - Which will make the perfect spot to enjoy Cider Sunday.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley
430 Wine Country Drive
Lovedale NSW 2325
Sandalyn Wilderness Estate
162 Wilderness Road, Rothbury
Hunter Valley, NSW, 2321
Tel:(02) 4930 7611
To find out more and plan your visit to the next Lovedale Long Lunch click here
The Food Mentalist and Pete stayed as guests of Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.