No Cheaps Dates wins an ‘amazing’ race in The Hunter Valley

“Rumour has it Harry Potter has his well earned beer here after a long and magical day.”

This was just one of the clues on a day of Hunter Valley NSW discovery for a bunch of fellow food and wine writers – journalists and bloggers – and their guests. The three teams – as guests of Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism – were named in line with the new marketing messages of the Hunter Valley Wine Country: No Cheap Dates, Educated Palates and Fussy Bastards. My guest Phee Gardiner and I set off from Sydney early on the Friday afternoon in time for the welcome dinner at The Mill restaurant, at Tuscany Wine Resort Estate. With our No Cheap Dates team mates including wine writer Andrew Graham of Oz Wine Review and his partner Kate Parry, we were off to an early lead as the first clues of the race were broadcast during dinner on social networking site Twitter.

Straight out of bed (our respective separate beds that is) the next morning and our first challenge of the day was to design a video advertisement around our teams marketing message. We had not trouble with that. Phee, Andrew and Kate did us proud so we claimed the top points in that round too.

Tasks, challenges and rewards included a bicycle race to the oldest Hunter Valley winery (starting with T). Then once at Tullochs we were to match food and wine. Again we won! A produce lunch at the Hunter Valley Gardens showcased local produce from Lovedale Smokehouse, Smelly Cheese Shop, Sabor, Binnorie Dairy and Tinklers. But there was no time for lunch to settle before the running shoes were on.

Perhaps my favourite part of the day was the helicopter ride which scooped us (three at a time) over the picturesque landscape of the vineyards to arrive at – yes you guessed it – another challenge. This time the challenge was blending our own wine in the Bimbadgen Cellars.

And the Harry Potter clue? Well that was for our next destination. The Hunter Valley isn’t just about wine as we learnt at Potters Brewery.

The Saturday finished with an awards dinner at Margan Restaurant in Polkobin. Did we win? What do you think? Of course we did. Though after such a fun filled day I’m sure all three teams came out as winners.

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