Tag Archives: hunter valley wine

A Weekend at the Hunter: Wine Tastings, Cheese Platters, Good Food and Crappy Skin

9 Sep

Good afternoon good folk!

This weekend was AH-mazing.

We (GP, MoH M&M, M&M’s boyfie who will now be called Don, and myself) drove up on the Friday night to Broke, a smaller section of the greater Hunter Valley Wine Area. The journey there was CREEPY AS CRAP, as we had to drive through small country roads and it was literally pitch black all around us. Add to that listening to Nightvale podcasts which would make H.P. Lovecraft proud, and it was a creepy, thought entertaining, ride to the Rosa House in Broke.

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The Rosa House – an old-fashioned farmstay! ❤ // Personal image

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The view from GP and my bedroom // Personal image.

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The porch out back – with dining table, barbeque, and a stunning view // Personal image

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The stunning view! // Personal image

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The dining room and GP ❤ // Personal image

[Just to note: these were taken on the day we left, at Junior Homie Oddball’s request. She couldn’t come with us since she had to stay at home and so homework. She also had Chinese school on Saturday and didn’t want to miss it. She’s such a diligent kid!]

When we did make it, we settled in for two rounds of Dominion and then called it a night. The bed was uber comfy and I fell asleep almost instantly!

The next morning was glorious! It was a warm day (about 31 degrees Celsius) and cloudy, so enough coverage for it to be relatively cool. There was also a slight breeze, which made the day just that little perfect. We took M&Ms and Don around the Hunter Valley wine area and showed them the sights.

Despite the fact that my oldest sister is my MoH, she hadn’t been on any of the previous Hunter Valley trips with us, so hadn’t seen any of the wedding stuff at all. This trip was the first time she had seen the reception space and got an idea where we were also having the ceremony (I don’t think she’s been inside the Gardens where we’re having the ceremony either).

Anyway, we toured them around, bought (several) bottles of wine, had some gelato, and then went to the wine-tasting that was included as a part of the accommodation package. The particular place we went to was called Ascella Wines, and they do all organic wines. They also had an organic cheese platter and the cheeses were TO DIE FOR. The wines were pretty amazing too. At the end of the tasting, we bought a whole lot of Shiraz wine and some Pina Colada RTD-type drinks.

By this point, however, my skin decided to tell me to EFF OFF and had decided to break out. Now, previous to THAT, I was getting a few pimples too. So by the time we got back to the Rosa House, my eyelids had puffed out, my skin was hot and rashy and my face wasn’t looking particularly appealing.

I slept it off for a little bit and then we had to get ready for dinner.

Dinner was at Leaves & Fishes.

Now for those who don’t know Leaves & Fishes, it is an amazing little restaurant which catches its fish daily from the (man-made) lake which the restaurant is built on! It’s a nice little place with awesome atmosphere, good staff and most of all, AWESOME FOOD. Here’s a picture!

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Us at Leaves & Fishes, stuffed from the food. From left to right: GP, myself, MoH M&Ms, and Don / Personal image.

(Can you not see how… blotchy I look? BLAH.)

Anyway, after an awesome dinner and conversations, we returned home, played some more card games, and then passed out for sleep. By the time I woke up in the morning, my skin was blotchy, my pimples had grown to enormous sizes, and I was looked haggard. GP managed to make me feel pretty, regardless, but BOY was I dreading the makeup and hair trial…

Next up, THE HAIR AND MAKEUP TRIAL.

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Accommodating the guests!

18 May

Hey Hive!

On 18 May, Mr Big and I took a nice morning jaunt up to the Hunter Valley. It was an awesome and very fulfilling trip. We managed to get a lot done in the time we were up there. Among these things we have found our baker for the wedding (more on that soon!), bought A LOT of bottles of moscato (and also found out that a few vineyards up there recognise us by face!), picked up more empty wine bottles for our DIY project, and most importantly, looked at accommodation for our guests.

When we first started planning a vineyard wedding in the Hunter Valley, the first and foremost issue that was constantly brought up to us was ”where will the guests stay?”. Good question, Mr Big and I would say, we’ll try to find something. I searched high and low for a hotel that would fit our guests comfortably and also provide nice furnishings. It had to be affordable, it had to be in the Hunter Valley Wine Area, and it had to be nice.

The reasons we needed these properties were simple:

  • we have overseas guests coming and so we needed an affordable price point for these guests
  • we didn’t want our guests having to drive more than an hour to get to our ceremony and reception – ten minutes tops was our cap
  • we wanted our guests to enjoy their time staying at the Hunter

I’ll be honest, guys. I had no idea where to look. I had never stayed in the Hunter at that point and I knew of the hotels but had never stayed there before. So I was stumped people. I threw around a lot of suggestions to Mr Big: Mercure Resort, Cam-Way Estate, Sebel Kirkton.

All of my suggestions was taken with a “hmm… maybe…” by the fiancé and so it got to a point where – it being too early to really do much about the guest-accommodation problem – I let it go and put it on the backburner.

However, in August of 2012, Mr Big’s parents came to stay. De Papa and Mumma Big had previously come over to Australia in July of 2010, ironically a week after I had met Mr Big. They travelled up to the Hunter Valley, and during that time, they stayed in a two-bedroom villa at the Crowne Plaza Resort. All three of them loved it there, but when it came time to plan guest accommodation during our wedding in 2014, he had totally forgotten the Crowne could do group bookings. Luckily MIL/Mumma Big was savvy enough to tell us about it:

“We’re going to stay at the Crowne Plaza. It was lovely there when we stayed before,” said MIL/Mumma Big.

And I was sold.

Mr Big’s mumma is a lovely woman and has good taste in these sorts of things, so I trusted her judgment. A month or so later, Mr Big called the hotel and got a group booking! So, is this the end of the guest accommodation saga? Well, not quite.

When 12 months to the wedding tricked down to 9 months to the wedding, I asked Mr Big if we could potentially take a look at the hotel rooms at the Crowne. You see, the Crowne has both hotel rooms (deluxe rooms, king rooms, spa suites, etc.) and villas (two- and three-bedroom). So I wanted to ensure that, 1) the hotel would take your breath away, 2) the rooms would do the same thing. Unfortunately, April passed without us heading up to the Hunter (shame on us) but come May, I was eager for another trip up.

When we got to the Crowne Plaza, I immediately told myself that (1) had been fulfilled. It is a stunning hotel with absolutely HUGE grounds and a lake out the front. When we went for a tour around (in a buggy, booyah!) there were black swans floating serenely on the lake.

There are also heaps of things to do at the hotel itself like taking a trip down to the spa, hanging out in the leisure room (Xbox, the PlayStation, arcade games), playing on the various outdoors-y sports type equipment, playing giant chess and jenga (yes – you read that right) and swimming in their HUGE freaking pool.

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On the left, Mr Big and giant Jenga; on the right, giant chess in the balcony courtyard. / Personal images.

They also assist in guest transport, wine tours, and drinks (you can request the bar to be open earlier for your guests – yes you can).

We didn’t get to go inside the rooms, purely because there was a special event on (the Lovedale Long Lunch, which Mr Big and I want to do one of these days), but they gave us information and contact details of someone to contact who will give us a tour around these rooms.

We went away a happy future-bridegroom-and-bride and can’t wait to see our guests’ reactions to the sheer awesome of the hotel. We also can’t wait on the wedding day when Mr Big can get some amazing photos around the Crowne with his groomsmen!

Did anyone else inspect their accommodation prior to the Big Day? Who’s just as excited about giant Jenga? 🙂