What better way to learn about wine than actually blending your own? That’s why I am heading to Bimbadgen first thing in the morning to learn all about wine making with winemaker Rauri Donkin. Located high on the hill in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country, Bimbadgen Estate has been producing fine wines for over 40 years. They are renowned for their classic bottle-aged Semillon and full-bodied intense Shiraz, two hero wines of the Hunter Valley region. Rauri’s job is to choose only the finest parcels of fruit identified within select Hunter Valley vineyards to craft a premium wine of regional style and intensity of flavour.

As I’ve learned from Rauri, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to wine, it’s all down to personal taste and preference. I get to taste five of their single vineyard Shiraz and am absolutely amazed by how different they all are in terms of flavour, acidity and texture. We concoct two Shiraz blends that are totally different from each other – one is a pleasant fruity blend while the other is a full bodied classic Shiraz. It’s hard to choose a favourite as I’ll be happy to drink both of them. I take a bottle of Bimbadgen Signature 2013 Hunter Valley Shiraz with me as it will be the wine to match with the dish I have to cook this evening in my latest #GourmetHunter challenge.

Next stop, Tinklers to grab some fresh produce. Tinklers is a family owned and operated vineyard, winery and farm gate. The Tinklers family have been in the Hunter Valley for more than 100 years. They produce premium wines and fresh produce using farming knowledge and skills passed down through the generations. Owner, winemaker and self-claimed “frustrated” farmer, Usher Tinkler is happy to show me around his vineyard and the orchard, where hopefully I’ll get to pick a few pieces of fresh produce to cook with.

The Tinklers grow an abundance of seasonal produce including table grapes, peaches, nectarines, avocados, pumpkins, figs and mixed citrus. Usher tells me 50% of their visitors are here to pick up seasonal produce, even waiting outside the property early in the morning before the gate is open! I have my fresh pumpkin and my wine, so it’s time to be on my way to the next stop where I’ll be cooking up a storm.