Last Saturday my wife and I went on a wine and food bus tour in the Shoalhaven organised by Cindy Reid of Travel Charm.
This was to be only our second such tour ever, having gone on a Macarthur country one a few years back.
On the Friday night we tried to remember what the Macarthur wine and food bus trip had been like, and we both agreed that it had packed in a lot of stuff, mostly food places, including local farms.
But our clearest memory was that when we’d got home that night we were both dead tired.
In any case, we were up early on Saturday because we had to be at the Cross Roads Hotel at 7am for a 7.20am departure.
We got there with just a few minutes to spare, and there to greet us was Cindy Reid and some of the other fellow travellers.
After stops at Moorebank Sports Club, near Maccas at Heathcote and a final one in Wollongong to pick up other members of the tour, we slowly made our way to our first destination, busy, touristy Berry, some terrible “berry good” jokes among the passengers, and in particular littlefork café, to sample its famous delicious cupcakes and really good coffee.
Personally, knowing there was a heap of wine tasting to be had later on, I would have preferred a big breakfast of bacon and eggs, and sausages and mushrooms and tomato and toasted sourdough, but that’s just me.
Still in Berry, our next stop was a few minutes’ drive away, at the Treat Factory, where, if you have a sweet tooth you’d think you died and gone to heaven.
Both my good wife and I agreed that it was noticeable up to that point that plenty of time was being allowed so far for littlefork Café and the Treat Factory, so were looking forward to the rest of the day. It is nice to be unrushed, relaxed, and certainly you appreciate new things more that way.
So once we all filled one or two or more bags with sweet things from the Treat Factory, we headed off to our first winery, Silos Estate, which is off the Princess Highway on the way to Nowra.
We were met by Raj, the owner/winemaker, who proceeded to give us a useful, no nonsense introduction to the wines we were about to taste.
We tried a range of white and red sparklings, dry and sweet whites, dry reds and one or two fortifieds, and I have to say, the quality was excellent across the board.
Not every wine was to everyone’s taste, but that’s to be expected. Wine is like art, I like to say. I don’t know much about wines, but I know what I like, sort of thing.
Lunch was organised at the Silos restaurant, which is located in the converted silos, thus the name of the place.
The members of our party had pre-ordered their choice, so it was only a small wait before the food started arriving and we hooked in to some delicious fare, including a very tender beef fillet.
Again, it was noticeable that we were moving at a very leisurely pace; there was no rush whatsoever.
And then we were off to our next destination, Two Figs winery, and three things stand out about this place atop Coolangatta Mountain: Its magnificent, panoramic views of green rolling hills and the Shoalhaven River zig-zaging through them; some very good wines and ports and, finally, a crazy wobbly bottle that’s a must buy if you want to impress your friends at your next dinner party.
That’s two wineries, one to go, for the tour party who got back on the bus, which headed off to our final destination: Crooked River Wines, which is located on the corner of Princess Highway and Willowvale Rad, Gerringong.
To get there we drove past rugby league legend Mick Cronin’s pub, and that was a bonus for a footy fan like me. It also meant I could tell the story of how I had indeed visited the pub and the great man himself was there.
But back to Crooked River Wines, whose cellar door and restaurant also enjoy a high position with lovely views. Which made it a rather excellent place to try their very nice white wines, or in my case, just the reds.
Despite the relaxed rhythm of the day, we were somehow ahead of schedule when we boarded the bus after our visit to Crooked River Wines, and next stop was home, or the Crossroads Hotel, where we were safely dropped off around 6.30pm.
So, there you go. If you like food and wine and are interested in exploring new experiences, a tour like this is the perfect way. Especially if relaxed is your preferred way to do it.
That certainly seems to be Cindy’s way at Travel Charm.