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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wine, cheese and beer

Tyrrell's Vineyard cellar door

After lunch at Harrigan's, we moved into the home stretch of our Hunter Valley how-much-wine-can-you-drink-in-one-day trip.

Our final vineyard was Tyrrell's, one of Australia's oldest and most successful wine families whose vineyards were first planted in 1858 by English immigrant Edward Tyrrell.

tyrrells men

tyrrells wines

Feeling somewhat sloshed by this point though, I was more interested in the skips filled with grapes out the back, their juices slowly leaching out in the summer heat.


Even more exciting was watching a skip full of grapes being tipped into the grape crusher, the juice dribbling down a funnel, the dry stalks shooting out the side completely stripped bare.

grape crusher
Grapes going into the crusher

My online searches of the web included numerous references to a fantastic dairy factory called Binnorie. Despite only being three years old, owner Simon Gough has won plenty of awards for his boutique range of soft cheeses. Of course I insisted we visit.

binnorie dairy
Binnorie Dairy

After driving past the place twice (there and doubling back), we eventually found ourselves a locked door with the following sign:

binnorie sign
Sign on the shop door

So it was with much giggling that we picked our way along the path and knocked on the factory window (and I quickly took a photo, of course). A worker put down his cheese, removed his gloves, walked back to the tasting room and unlocked the door to offer us a six-course tasting of their various cheeses.

binnorie cheese room
Binnorie cheese factory (through the window)

We sampled a herb fromage frais, mascarpone, labnah (a yoghurt cheese made from cow's milk), marinated fetta and blue torte (cows milk with gorgonzola).

I take home a tub of duetto, a divine creamy mixture of gorgonzola dolce with mascarpone cream. It's delicious on a cracker or with fruit.

blue tongue brewery
Blue Tongue Brewery

Our final stop is Blue Tongue Brewery: all that wine needs to be balanced with beer.

beer taps

The showroom is actually a cafe/bar that serves food and beer. Tasting paddles are $7.50 for four, or $10 for six. Both come with a free middy (presumably of your favourite). We hedge our bets and get four tastes and a middy of another, meaning we only miss out on tasting one flavour (the Nobby's Premium Light).

beer paddle
Tasting paddle
L-R: Premium black ale, premium draught, traditional pilsener and alcoholic ginger beer

The ginger beer is definitely alcoholic with a distinct taste of hops. The pilsener and draught are good, but as usual I have a preference for the black ale, which is rich, malty and almost caramelly in flavour.

Premium Lager

B likes his lager, and this one is full-flavoured with a touch of bitterness.

So we make our way to our hotel for a quick rest before dinner. Four vineyards, three cheeseshops, a brewery and an olive centre. Not bad for a day's work in the Valley.

Tyrrell's Wines Cellar Door
Broke Road, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley
Open Monday–Saturday: 8:30am–5pm
(tastings finish 4.30pm on Saturdays)
Winery tour 1.30pm Monday - Saturday
Tel: +61 (02) 4993 7000

Binnorie Dairy
Tuscany Wine Estate
Corner Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley
Open Tuesday - Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
Tel: +61 (02) 4998 6660

Blue Tongue Brewery
Hunter Resort, Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley
Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Tel: +61 (02) 4998 7777

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Hunter Valley 2008/1: Maitland Gaol tour
Hunter Valley 2008/2: Morpeth Pie Man and Morpeth Sourdough
Hunter Valley 2008/3: Dinner at the Newcastle Travelodge Hotel
Hunter Valley 2008/4: Vineyards and cheese tasting

Hunter Valley 2007/1: Cessnock
Hunter Valley 2007/2: Vineyards, cheeseshops and an olive centre
Hunter Valley 2007/3: Lunch at Harrigan's Irish Pub
Hunter Valley 2007/4: A vineyard, cheeseshop and beer brewery
Hunter Valley 2007/5: Dinner at Chez Pok
2 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 2/17/2007 03:10:00 pm


  • At 2/18/2007 10:59 pm, Blogger SoRMuiJAi said…

    The binnorie deli's labnah is to die for! I remember getting a jar of that and the marinated fetta for our trip home. Too bad they don't last that long otherwise I would've grabbed more. I'll have to wait til the next time I visit, although I did see some stores at the North Side Produce Market selling some of their products!

  • At 2/24/2007 3:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have it on good knowledge that B loves beer full stop!!

    I'd love to see people making cheeses and stuff... it would be really interesting.

    Snaps for the blog! I love it!


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