Hunter Valley: beautiful wines and spectacular local produce
Escape to flourishing wine country, where world-famous wineries, acclaimed gourmet restaurants, delicious local produce and luxurious spa retreats await. Surrounded by magnificent natural beauty, and only two hours from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest wine growing region. The district is home to some of Australia’s most distinctive and outstanding wines, most notably Hunter Valley semillon. It is also famous for producing outstanding shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, verdelho and chardonnay. Enjoy paddock-to-plate meals, beautiful vineyards and olive groves, live music festivals, hot air balloon rides, horse riding and walking.
Wine tours and wine tasting
Home to more than 120 wineries and more cellar doors than any other wine region in Australia, one of the great pleasures of wine tasting in the Hunter Valley is the incredible breadth of flavour and character. A wine tour is a great way to enjoy the vineyards of the valley. Take a sensory excursion, gain insights into wine making and meet passionate winemakers.
One of the country’s oldest vineyards, Audrey Wilkinson is a ‘must visit’. Perched on the foothills of the Brokenback Range, it has stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Picnic among the vines, tour the cellar or stay in a guest cottage on this historic working vineyard.
Audrey Wilkinson, Hunter Valley750 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Less than a 10-minute drive away is Brokenwood Wines – one of Australia’s most reputable premium wine labels. Established in 1970, key offerings include the famous Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, ILR Reserve Semillon and Cricket Pitch Range. Other highlights include a state-of-the-art tasting facility, museum, cafe and restaurant.
Brokenwood401-427 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
A selection of boutique wines awaits you at McGuigan Wines Cellar Door, in the heart of the Hunter Valley. McGuigan wines have won White Winemaker of the Year four times in London at the International Wine Competition. Another beautiful winery is Tyrrell's — one of Australia's most distinguished family owned wine companies. Established in 1858, Tyrrell's is home to some of Australia's most awarded wines, including the iconic Vat 1 Semillon.
McGuigan Wines Cellar Door447 McDonalds Road Corner of, Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Tyrrell's1838 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
For those who like liquor, don’t forget to visit Hunter Distillery — the only certified organic distillery in the Hunter Valley wine region. Locally owned and operated, they produce an exceptional range of top shelf spirits, including gin, vodka, liqueur, schnapps and the award-winning Copperwave distilled gin.
Hunter Distillery1686 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
There are plenty of family activities in the Hunter Valley. Visit the idyllic Hunter Valley Gardens and appreciate nature. There are eight kilometres of walking paths winding through 14 hectares of picturesque gardens, including the ‘Instagram-worthy’ and enchanting Storybook Garden, which takes visitors on a journey through childhood dreams, memories, and fantasies.
Hunter Valley Gardens2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
There’s also the opportunity to go horse riding through the vineyards with Hunter Valley Horse Riding and Adventures and play golf at Hunter Valley Aqua Golf and Putt Putt. Alternatively, hire a bike, go on a Segway tour and enjoy bushwalking.
Hunter Valley Aqua Golf2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Dine in the vineyards
As well as producing some of the world’s best wines, you’ll find delicious hatted restaurants in the Hunter Valley region. With an ‘estate-grown, estate-made’ ethos, Margan Restaurant is a pioneer in agri-dining in the Hunter Valley. The menu is centred around what they harvest from their one-acre kitchen garden and orchard to maintain a truly seasonal focus.
Located in Mount View in the Hunter Valley, Bistro Molines combines the finest food with European influenced serenity. They serve sophisticated yet rustic French Provincial dishes.
Bistro Molines749 Mount View Rd, Mount View NSW 2325, Australia
Other acclaimed restaurants include Esca Bimbadgen and Muse Kitchen.
Esca Bimbadgen Restaurant790 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Muse KitchenKeith Tulloch Winery Cnr. Hermitage &, Deasys Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Taste cheese and chocolate
Any trip to the Hunter Valley, should include a visit to the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. This famous institution offers the finest local cheese and artisan cheese gourmet delights, cured meats and accompaniments.
Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop2144 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
It is also home to the Hunter Valley Gelato Company, featuring traditional Italian gelato made onsite with imported Italian ingredients and a 200-year-old recipe. Continue your cheese tasting at Binnorie Dairy: one of Australia's premiere soft cheese suppliers. To satisfy your sweet tooth, head to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, which produces delicious and delicate chocolates. Established more than 20 years ago, they use only the finest Belgian couverture chocolate, together with Australian dried fruits and nuts.
Go hot air ballooning over the vineyards
One of the most popular activities in the Hunter Valley is hot air ballooning —there’s even a fiesta in October: Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley Balloon Fiesta. Take in the spectacular views and watch the sunrise over the picturesque Hunter Valley wine region with a glorious Balloon Aloft flight. The magnificent flight is followed by a delicious gourmet breakfast and champagne celebration at the famous Peterson House winery and Restaurant.
Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley1/26 Lodge Rd, Lovedale NSW 2325, Australia
Festivals in the valley
During winter, there is the annual Snow Time in the Garden Festival with a giant ice-skating rink, mega ice toboggan and snowman building along with carnival rides, hearty food and warming beverages.
The Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival showcases the epicurean pleasures of this iconic food and wine destination during May and June. From incredible gourmet dinners at award-winning restaurants to vineyard tours, winemaking masterclasses, hands-on cooking classes and cosy evenings beside an open fire with family and friends, the festival has something for everyone.
Running from November to January, the Christmas Lights Spectacular is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest lights display in Hunter Valley Gardens. Families can capture a moment next to the eight-metre tall mega Christmas tree, immerse in the giant walk-through bauble, and explore the Princess Castle, Fairyland and Candyland. Visit Santa’s enchanting workshop, write a letter to the North Pole and get a photo with Santa Claus himself. There are also rides for the children such as jumping castles and inflatable zones and thrill-seeking rides for the young at heart like the Ferris Wheel which gives you a beautiful view of the gardens from above.