Australia’s oldest and leading wine-producing district, stretching inland from the town of Newcastle to about 120- 310 km north of Sydney on the superb New South Wales coast, The Hunter Valley wine region is a match made in bacchian heaven with the most discerning Australian oenophiles, having a penchant for savouring the best things in life. Named after the Hunter River, the main river running across the valley, the historic, peaceful and scenic Hunter Valley boasts a distinctive rustic charm and nearly 150 first-rate wineries serving up healthy doses of the finest red and white wine Australia has to offer.
Our comprehensive, highly informative guided wine tours cover many facets and aspects of the ever-fascinating world of fine wine, allowing sophisticated visitors from Sydney to discover hands-on Australia’s authentic wine country that boasts a wide array of select wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon.
Locally known as simply the Hunter, this celebrated wine region steeped in rich history and excellence in winemaking is renowned across the globe for its award-winning, world-class wines reflecting their bucolic Australian origin. Although the Hunter was historically established as the main source of coal and timber for Sydney and surrounding areas, an impressive selection of superior quality wines have been produced in the Hunter Valley wine region since the early 1820s.
By 1823, around 20 acres of vineyards had already been cultivated on the northern banks of the Hunter River and what is today the Dalwood-Gresford area, between Maitland and Singleton. The pioneers of the Hunter’s extensive winemaking tradition were James Busby, William Kelman, James King and George Wyndham. John Howe’s discovery of the first overland route to the Hunter Valley in 1820 opened up this region to free settlers interested in agricultural activities, especially viticulture.
James Busby brought to this burgeoning region about 570 vine cuttings drawn from various European and South African plantings, while his sister Catherine married William Kelman and the couple took up one of the first land grants at Kirkton. By 1840, the Hunter’s registered vineyard area exceeded 500 acres and by late 19th century many families had already established vineyards in the region.
Over the years, the Hunter Valley’s inland location and close proximity to Sydney have had a positive impact on the region’s investments in wine growing, helping it become a flourishing and recognized wine region in Australia. It spreads out as a breathtaking mosaic of healthy vineyards and groves of olive trees that blend harmoniously with the Hunter’s exuberant landscape nestled between Wollemi national parks and the Barrington Tops. The most extensively planted grape varieties in the Hunter Valley include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz among the reds and Semillon, Verdelho and Chardonnay among the whites.
One of the most popular and sought-after tourist destinations in Australia, particularly appealing to visitors with exquisitely refined tastes, The Hunter Valley wine region is divided into two parts – the more accessible and touristy Lower Hunter to the south and the more remote Upper Hunter to the north. The most prestigious Hunter Valley wineries are based in the Lower Hunter, with Cessnock ( about 160 km and a 2-hour drive from Sydney) and Pokolbin boasting dozens of wineries, many of which feature cellar doors for wine tasting a la carte.
The Hunter Valley wine region boasts three recognized sub-regions – Broke Fordwich in Singleton Shire (registered in 1997 and accounting for 14% of all the Hunter’s plantings), Pokolbin and the Upper Hunter (both registered in 2010). The quaint town of Pokolbin has been the heart of the Lower Hunter since the early 1930s and features long-established plantings such as Lindeman’s, as well as newer plantings including Allandale, Brokenwood Wines, and Peterson’s.
Pokolbin produces wine from traditional varieties such as Semillon, the iconic wine of the Hunter Valley and Shiraz, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and smaller quantities of Pinot noir. Apart from Cessnock, Pokolbin and the sub-region Broke-Fordwich, other popular towns and villages in the Lower Hunter include Lovedale, Maitland, Wollombi Valley and Rothbury.
In addition to its exceptional wines and world-famous boutique wineries, some of which also provide accommodation ranging from bed and breakfast to upscale, The Hunter Valley offers an eclectic mix of gourmet dining, shopping, cultural and entertainment venues to suit all tastes and preferences of sophisticated visitors.
Seize the opportunity to savour Hunter Valley at its finest – delight your taste buds with some of the world’s finest wines and revel in a powerfully personal, generously accessible and overwhelmingly rewarding wine tour experience courtesy of Tastes of the Hunter Wine Tours!