A wine ro­mance

How to get an in­sider’s view of the NSW Hunter Val­ley

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CARO­LINE GLAD­STONE

STAND­ING with cow horn in hand, vine­yard owner Rod Win­drim says most Hunter Val­ley wine­grow­ers thought he was mad when he switched to bio­dy­namic farm­ing in 2002.

Once he used the ‘‘full cock­tail’’ of pes­ti­cides to pro­tect his vines; to­day he douses them with his ‘‘com­post tea’’ ac­cord­ing to the phases of the moon.

Fresh ma­nure from lac­tat­ing cows is stuffed into cow horns, buried for about five months and dug up in spring. The bac­te­ri­arich dung is mixed with wa­ter and fish emul­sion and sprayed on the vines: half dur­ing the as­cend­ing phase of the moon, the re­main­der dur­ing the de­scend­ing.

At other times Win­drim sprays a sil­ica mix­ture that has also un­der­gone the sub­ter­ranean cow horn ri­tual, and prunes and plants by the astro calendar.

Win­drim’s Krin­kle­wood Bio­dy­namic Vine­yard is j ust one of 140 winer­ies and cel­lar doors in the NSW Hunter Val­ley and a favourite of tour guide Heidi Duck­worth.

With so much to see and taste in this renowned wine-grow­ing re­gion, it’s good to be with an ex­pert such as Duck­worth, who started her small-group tour­ing com­pany last year. Dressed in cor­po­rate black to match her sleek Range Rover, and wear­ing killer heels, Duck­worth is no stranger to the re­gion. She put in 12 years as mar­ket­ing man­ager of Hunter Val­ley Wine Tourism.

In that role, how­ever, she wasn’t able to play favourites: the winer­ies, dozens of restau­rants and 190 ac­com­mo­da­tion houses in her do­main all re­ceived equal treat­ment. How­ever, now she’s free to di­rect her clients to es­tab­lish­ments she be­lieves are the cream of the crop.

Krin­kle­wood isn’t just do­ing things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently ( and Win­drim is of­ten be­hind the counter, shar­ing his bio­dy­namic sto­ries with vis­i­tors), it’s pro­duc­ing great wines. I buy a bot­tle of gold-medal 2009 chardon­nay be­fore we zoom off to sam­ple an­other out­fit in Broke.

At Mar­gan cel­lar door and restau­rant, we sip wines in the rus­tic but chic rammed-earth win­ery and restau­rant. Its stylish­ness be­lies the hum­ble veg­etable and herb gar­den out the back where own­ers Andrew and Lisa Mar­gan grow the green pro­duce served in the restau­rant. Mar­gan’s vines aren’t bio­dy­nam­i­cally grown but the cou­ple re­cently picked up a sus­tain­abil­ity award for re­duc­ing the restau­rant’s car­bon foot­print.

Duck­worth is keen to show her group the new Icon Lounge at the Small Wine­mak­ers’ Cen­tre at Pokol­bin. This classy black, red and white tast­ing room pro­vides a crash course in the finest drops of the re­gion. Six­teen reds and eight whites, ei­ther gold or tro­phy win­ners, are on tap.

Tasters are in­vited to pour a per­fect 30ml, 75ml or 100ml glass us­ing an Eno­matic dis­pens­ing sys­tem, a de­vice de­signed in Tus­cany. Icon Lounge owner and wine­maker Suzanne Lit­tle says these top wines (which in­clude Tyrrell’s, McWilliams and Pep­per Tree) are gen­er­ally not avail­able for tast­ing in the Hunter; from $2 to $9 for 30ml, this is a bar­gain for wine buffs.

For sus­te­nance en route, Duck­worth of­ten sug­gests the or­ganic restau­rant Cracked Pep­per (if her clients also opt for Krin­kle­wood), or the Cafe Enzo. And she can in­clude vis­its to a choco­latier, a cheese provi­dore, a bou­tique brewer and an art gallery.

As we make our way to the new Gold­fish cock­tail bar at Tem­pus Two win­ery, there’s a he­li­copter whirring away on the front lawn.

I joke that it’s for us, and Duck­worth just nods. Her mel­lowed­out clients are of­ten keen to get back to their Hunter Val­ley digs af­ter a long day’s tour­ing, and a chop­per just seems to top it off. Caro­line Glad­stone was a guest of Tourism NSW.

Krin­kle­wood Vine­yard uses bio­dy­namic farm­ing tech­niques

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.