As the weather warms up and our alfresco areas beckon, now is the perfect time to sit outside with a delicious platter, vineyard views and a glass of local wine.
Here’s how to have the perfect picnic in the Hunter Valley.
Choose the right food
If you’re heading out to a Hunter Valley picnic spot, select a mix of food that’s shareable and easy to eat with your hands – it’s much easier than balancing a plate or trying to use cutlery if you’re sitting on the ground, plus it cuts down on what you need to pack. Choosing to stay at home on the deck? Sharing is still essential, but you can be a little less cautious about what you serve, with messier dips, runny fruit jellies and salads all on the cards.
Create the perfect platter
You can’t go past a platter for the perfect picnic food. They’re easy to share, great for a casual gathering and a good way to offer a variety of flavours to suit everyone. A couple of cheeses with some crackers is a great place to start, but all it takes is some carefully selected ingredients and you can have a platter to impress even the most discerning picnickers.
The experts says the key to an impressive platter is in a variety of tastes, textures and colours. To start, select one hard cheese (like cheddar), one soft cheese (like brie) and one blue cheese, or have a chat to a cheesemonger at a cheese shop like Hunter Valley Cheese Factory or Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop for a recommendation.
Then, choose a couple of different meats, such as salami or prosciutto, and some sourdough bread or plain crackers. For the vegetarians try a frittata or quiche, crudites and dips. Add some extra snacks like olives, nuts, pretzels and dried fruit then finish it off with brightly coloured summer fruit.
Find a beautiful picnic spot
There’s no shortage of beautiful places to picnic in the Hunter Valley, whether you’re after a great view, vineyard surroundings or a peaceful park. We love this list from Pokolbin accommodation The Vintry, which captures some of the best picnic spots in the Hunter Valley, with details about seating, barbecues and playgrounds for kids.
Our personal favourites include Bimbadeen Lookout in Mount View and Narrow Place Lookout in Olney, as well as the Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin. In Singleton try the Sundial in Rose Point Park.
Picnics are typically BYO affairs, so it’s easy to leave something essential at home when you’re caught up in packing your favourite snacks and choosing a bottle of red at the cellar door. Before you leave the house, think about all those little things you might need throughout the duration of your picnic so it’s as enjoyable as possible. This list might include:
A rug and some fold-up chairs
Different types of knives
Plates or platters
Cling wrap, foil or beeswax wraps to package up leftovers
Sunscreen and bug spray
Outsourcing to the professionals
Prefer not to DIY? That’s not a problem in the Hunter Valley. There are a number of fabulous local companies who take the pressure off a relaxing picnic among the vineyards by supplying everything you need, which is especially helpful for tourists coming up from Sydney and the Central Coast for a day of exploring and wine tasting.
Depending on your preferences, there are packages featuring cheeses, sandwiches, desserts, quiches and pates, as well as options to rent chairs, rugs, umbrellas and other accessories. Take a look at Pokolbin Picnic Co, Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop and Two Fat Blokes for some options.