Only a two-hour drive from Sydney, Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s regions for amazing wine. Known as Wine Country, Hunter Valley is yes, a place to sample a variety of wines, but also enjoy so much more that the area has to offer. Hunter Valley’s history and architecture are just some of the other reasons visitors visit this area.
Down in The Valley
Hunter Valley is made up of several regions in New South Wales. Some of the oldest vines were planted in 1924, near the village of Fordwich. The center of Hunter Valley region is Pokolbin, with restaurants, shops, golf courses, and places to stay. Smaller towns such as Broke and Lovedale are quieter alternatives to Pokolbin but still have wineries, spa resorts, and antiques shopping. Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most popular wine regions, in part because of its proximity to Sydney.
There are three main types of wine that Hunter Valley is known for: full-bodied whites, medium-weight reds, and port. Wine tastings are the best way to sample the variety and quality of these wines. At tastings, the winemaker or staff will explain each wine and what it is made of. Here are a few wineries you may want to check out:
- Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard- The Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard, which dates back to 1866, is one you don’t want to miss. With amazing views of the valley, it is believed to be Pokolbin’s first vineyard.
- Drayton’s Family Wines- If you are traveling with the family, visit Drayton’s Family Wines which has an outdoor picnic area and children’s playground.
- McGuigan’s Wines- Take a ride to McGuigan’s winery, which has been making win for over 50 years. Their Museum Wines and Cellar Door Only varieties are not available anywhere else.
- Pokolbin Estate- This small winery has a tasting room in a sandstone cottage that is about 115 years old. The wines are exclusive to the estate.
- First Creek- Winemakers Liz Jackson and Greg Silkman are highly regarded as some of the best winemakers in the country.
Wine and Dine
Hunter Valley also has some fantastic food to go along with the wine. The region’s farms grow a variety of produce, making for the freshest of meals. You can find meat, cheese, vegetables and chocolate as you are exploring the area. Or, take a food tour to really get the best it has to offer. Breakfast Bonus Tip: Start your day with breakfast at Café Enzo for waffles, pancakes, and fresh fruit. The café is located in Pepper Creek Village, which is comprised of quaint buildings. Dinner Bonus Tip: Head to Pokolbin for dinner at either Muse Kitchen or Muse Restaurant, EXP Restaurant, or Circa 1876.
Private Tasting Party
Gather the crew together for a private wine tasting. Briar Ridge in the southern part of the valley, for example, is a private getaway where you can taste wine and food on a table among the vines. It offers both current and vintage wines along with a tasting plate of local cuisine. You can ask questions about the wines and the winemaking process while you are there.
Take a Tour
If you are looking for a quick trip to Hunter Valley without having to plan your own itinerary, there are many day tour options available. Sightseeing Tours Australia offers a full-day tasting tour that includes a stop at McGuigan’s Wines, and lunch at Cypress Lakes Resort. A fan of museum wines? Check out Viator’s private tour of Tulloch Wines’ cellar to taste a range of museum wines with local cheeses.
If you want to take a break from the wine tasting, the region offers many other activities to try. Hunter Valley has events for its visitors year-round. Pokolbin is known for its good shopping and the Hunter Valley Gardens Village. If you are feeling more adventurous, a hot air balloon ride or helicopter tour is one way to get above the vines to see the countryside. The area also has a lot to offer historically, so check out some of the museums. And, if you are the active-type, there are several nice golf courses in the area.
The Hunter Valley is definitely worth a visit when in the Sydney area. You don’t even have to be a wine enthusiast to enjoy all it has to offer.