For the first time since May, my husband and I went on a romantic 24 hour date. Paul had business in New Castle again on Friday morning and this time I accompanied him alone. I spent my newfound freedom getting my first ever massage and a big chocolate Belgian waffle breakky from Coco Monde. Do you know how delightful it is to have a huge plate of waffles all to yourself? After a hefty helping of gluttany, I picked up Paul and we headed an hour west to Hunter Valley Gardens. The $24 entrance fee covers eight spectacular gardens including a storybook garden, Indian Mosaic garden, and our favorite the Rose Garden. We estimated the gardens held close to 200 wedding annually which would make it a very lucrative business model. Only 10 years old, everything (with exception to the closed orchard) was well manicured and fragrant at a level I've never experienced. I wished they sold bottles of the rose garden smell in the gift shop. Intoxicating.
We only had enough time to hold a tasting at one winery, and in Backscheider fashion pulled into the first humble uncrowded place we passed, Littles Winery. After three types of Semillon and Shiraz, we headed down a long dirt road to enjoy the sunset among the Kangas. Paul pondered whether or not all the wineries share a distillery and are only differentiated by branding while I pictured what would happen if a troop of Kangas went bounding through Napa and Sonoma. Overall, I still enjoy California wines more, but the scenery and low level of tourism in Hunter really made it a wonderfully private evening. We found a vacant room at Chateau Elan, a large golf resort with hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, the Greg Norman works. On a tip from my masseuse, we headed to Harrigans Pub for a steak and live music. The whole day couldn't have been more picture perfect.