A Cheese Festival in Wine Country

This weekend I joined a meetup group to travel to Hunter Valley for the 2017 Cheese Lovers Festival. We met at the Newcastle Station and loaded onto a bus to head to Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley is the most famous wine region in Australia. Hopefully I’ll make it up there for a wine tour before I go. However, the cheese festival was a good introduction to the area. I talked with other people from the group about the area. Everyone said they love to come up to see concerts on the grounds in a few of the wineries.

When we arrived we were greeted with little goody bags. They included crackers, a cheese knife, and a plastic wine glass for our tastings.

There were so many booths it was hard to decide where to start. Like most everyone, we started at the beginning. To go to the end would be to start with wine. It seemed a little early for that. To start in the middle seemed like a good way to miss something. So we started from the beginning.

We tasted all sorts of cheeses. The most common ones were bries, blues, and marinated fettas (how they spelled it). They had a lot of cheese rolled in ash. My favorite were the goat cheese and an Italian mountain cheese. I ended up buying one of each. Here’s a stack of brie and mountain cheese:

To switch things up, there were a couple booths in the middle that didn’t sell cheese or wine. Instead there was a bakery, a sauce tent, and salamis.

They had some really neat flavors like pork and truffle, duck, and kangaroo. I bought a duck (the one hanging all the way to the left) and a kangaroo so if you want to try some when I get home, you’ll have to ask Ryan to share. There were also a couple breweries that had some interesting items. I tried a White Rabbit Sour Red which I had never heard of. It came in the tiniest tasting goblet:

It was very interesting and not terribly sour. I also tried their White Rabbit white ale. It’s an award winner and was pretty tasty. From there we moved on to wine. The first stop was Drayton Family Wines. Somehow we ended up starting with port. It was very nice. They also had a blue wine. We never did figure out why it was blue but the person working there kept making jokes about viagra and that it was only for men. We tried a few more wines along the way and then decided it was probably a good time for food.

Making our way to the food trucks at the bottom of the hill, we decided to swing by the kids area. They had some cows that they were letting kids milk. She seemed pretty relaxed with the whole thing.

From there, we stopped to listen to the band for a while. They were called the Cruisin’ Deuces and were playing the blues. I asked my new friend, Julia, if that was a popular style music here, she didn’t think so. They were a lot of fun, though and had a fantastic saxophonist.

I ended up getting nachos from a food truck as they were the easiest thing to accommodate my diet. I may have snuck a few bits of things I wasn’t supposed to, like a homemade dark sourdough, but I had been pretty good. So I had carnitas nachos. It wasn’t the best thing I had eaten all day. That may have been the halloumi.

We joined some new friends at the end of a picnic table to eat lunch under the tent. It looked like it may rain at any time but thankfully it didn’t until we were on the bus on the way home. We finished up the day with one last visit to a few booths. I picked up some herbed goat cheese from some lovely ladies. Then we loaded up onto the bus and made our way back to Newcastle. The day was a great introduction to the wines and cheeses of the area. Now I’m not sure if I even need to pay to go back for a winery tour since most of them were there in one place! Have you been to a wine and cheese festival before? What is your favorite type of food festival to visit?

On a side note, I’m pretty excited I saw two rainbows this week! The first one is from a bus window on my way to school last week, which was pretty dirty. The other was on my way to school this morning.

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