Has anyone been to the Lovedale Long Lunch in the Hunter Valley? If you haven’t, then you must! It has been on my ‘to do’ list for years and when tickets came on sale late last year I rounded up some girlfriends and booked us in for a weekend away.
So, what is this long lunch I hear you ask? It’s a progressive style lunch through Lovedale where food and wine lovers (yep, it’s all about the love!) come together for a day of wining and dining. Held in May each year over a Saturday and Sunday, it is quite reasonably priced. We purchased the Saturday early bird package for $90 (excluding booking fees) which included entry, 2 main meals, 1 dessert or cheese plate, a souvenir wine glass and event program (for an extra $19 you could attend both days).
When you purchase your tickets you select 3 wineries to visit. We chose Allandale Winery, Tatler Wines and Emma’s Cottage and allowed ourselves about 2 hours at each winery. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Emma’s Cottage due to traffic congestion and waiting for the shuttle (Rover Coaches runs a shuttle service which transfers you between wineries for $25 paid on the day) so ended up jumping off the bus at Saltire Wines.
Each winery had a completely different vibe. Allandale was beautifully presented with white linen table cloths, foliage centrepieces and water bottles, chalkboard style signage and fun, gold ‘BUBBLES’ balloons for the champagne stand.
Tatler was more casual, with a younger crowd and not as intimate as Allandale. The band drew a large, dancing crowd and here we saw an array of dress ups from Indians to doctors, 50s style dresses and superheroes!
Our last stop was at Saltire and it was the perfect winery to finish our day at. We perched ourselves on hay bales on the wooden deck overlooking the vineyard and it was just stunning. With the band playing in the building behind us, we could have easily spent another few hours there.
On the accommodation front, we stayed at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort in a 3 bedroom self-contained villa which had plenty of room for the six of us and included buffet breakfast each morning.
On Friday evening we dined at Pipette, one of the onsite restaurants and experienced nothing short of exceptional service and three, mouth watering courses. We were also pleased there was a shuttle service which picked us up from our villa and brought us down to the main building for dinner as the rain had set in and there is a bit of a walk back up the hill.
In the morning, the weather gods put on a show and we were blessed with a glorious weekend of sunshine despite coming prepared for torrential rain and wintery weather as had been forecast.
My only tip for next year will be for our group to book our own mini bus for the day as it would have made it easier to get around. We travelled by taxi to our first winery, but trying to get home from Saltire proved to be a 2.5 hour adventure (and not one we wanted to be walking in the pitch black) as we missed the last Rover shuttle at 3.30pm (we only got to the winery at 3pm) along with a number of other people.
So, if you are after a fun weekend away filled with wine tasting and delicious food, then the Lovedale Long Lunch is definately one for your diary!
Oh and make sure you stop for breakfast or lunch at Peterson House – it never disappoints!