New South Wales’ Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine growing region. It is also renowned for its fine dining, cooking schools, galleries, health spa retreats and golf courses. Here you can sample local cheeses, hand-made chocolates, charcuterie, dairy goods, sourdough breads and olive oils direct from the producers. Join a wine tasting master class; or sample a broad selection of wines at one of more than 150 cellar doors. After your epicurean indulgence, escape to the great outdoors with a game of golf, hot-air balloon or helicopter ride or shopping for antiques and local artworks in the region’s many galleries.
The first vines in the Hunter Valley were planted by families in the 1820s, making the Hunter Valley the oldest wine region in Australia. Hunter Valley semillon is widely considered the iconic wine of the region, but the Hunter also produces wine from a wide variety of grapes including shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and verdelho. Visit the internationally-acclaimed Wyndham Estate, one of Australia’s oldest vineyards, which hosts Opera in the Vineyards each year. The historic 1866 Audrey Wilkinson winery has a museum with original wine making equipment on display.
At many of the cellar doors you can sample a broad selection of wines, or join a wine tasting master class which includes rare vintages. Some cellar doors you can visit by simply turning up, but others require advance bookings. Spend the night in boutique guesthouses or dine in top quality restaurants featuring some of the world’s finest wines in the historic towns of Pokolbin, Wollombi, Broke, Lovedale and Maitland. On a specialised wine tour you can visit several wineries in a day, including some of the latest winemakers.
Throughout the year, the Hunter Valley presents a diverse calendar of food and wine events in its wineries that include performances by big name artists in jazz, opera and blues music. The Lovedale Long Lunch event is a progressive-style feast which winds through several Hunter Valley wineries and restaurants each year in May. Wander through the colourful blooms at the Festival of the Flowers in September or during November, you can follow an art trail at Sculpture in the Vineyards.
Hunter Valley Wine Country is approximately two hours’ drive north of Sydney. In the heart of the Hunter Region is the beachside city of Newcastle, which has a rich history, culture and excellent dining and shopping. Relax on the pristine beaches of the New South Wales Central Coast. Walk trough ancient rainforests in national parks such as Watagan, Yengo, Wollombi and World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops. Go fishing, swimming or sailing at Lake St Clair near Singleton. You can travel through the Hunter Valley on the Pacific Coast Touring Route from Sydney to Brisbane.