girl holding wine at the hunter valley vineyard

A Guide to the Hunter Valley

During a time when international travel is out of the question, Australians are choosing to travel locally and enjoy the regional treasures closer to home. At the top of that list is the Hunter Valley wine region. When considering a perfect weekend respite from a busy week, the Hunter Valley wine region conjures images of sunrise Champagne in a hot air balloon or a casual winery tour after a relaxing round of golf. Perfectly blending world-class wines, stellar food and unbelievable entertainment, the Hunter Valley wine region has something for everyone.

The Hunter Valley Wine Region: A Brief History

The Hunter Valley wine region is the oldest wine region in the country, seeing the first vines in the ground on the banks of the Hunter River by 1823. By 1840, these plantings had increased to cover an expanse of 200 hectares. Since its inception, the Hunter Valley wine region has been known for its innovative and ground-breaking wines. The home of some of the country’s most acclaimed pioneers of viticulture including McGuigan, Tyrrell, Tulloch, Lindeman, Wilkinson and Drayton, it is no wonder the Hunter Valley is world-renowned for its impeccable wines. The most notable pioneer to hail from the region, however, was Maurice O'Shea, credited with changing the face of Australian wine. O’Shea championed table wine, in a time when fortified wine was the predominant Australian wine. O’Shea was a master at blending wines and had a sophisticated grasp on the use of Oak for ageing, pioneering the big, bold wines we think of as quintessentially Australian, today.

The Hunter Valley wine region is varied in its topography and soils however, most grapes are grown within a thin belt of ideal growing conditions. Hunter Valley Shiraz is produced in the more loamy soils of the region while Semillons favour the sandy substrates. The humidity of the Hunter Valley region is greater than is ideal for viticulture however, thanks to innovative and dedicated wine-makers the area is renowned for its Shiraz, Semillon and Verdelho.

Things to do and Top Attractions in the Hunter Valley

While there is an almost limitless amount of activities to keep you entertained in the Hunter Valley wine region, you would be remiss not to centre the majority of your activities around the primary drawcard of the area - wine!

Eat, drink and be merry

Whether it be a cooking class or a chef’s tasting menu, the Hunter Valley wine region is also a region renowned for its food. Explore the adage “if it grows together, it goes together” with cheese, wine and chocolate experience at the McGuigan cellar door. Indulge in the perfect pairing of McGuigan's Cellar Select Rose and a freshly made artisanal cheese, or learn from your own personal wine expert how to marry the flavours of fortified wine and chocolate for the ultimate luxury.

Hot air ballooning

The image of a hot air balloon, rising over the misty vineyards is almost as much of a Hunter Valley wine region icon as a glass of Shiraz. Hot air ballooning gives you a different perspective on the landscape, allowing you to see the familiar vineyards from a birds-eye view. And of course, no balloon ride is complete without a perfectly matched glass of local wine. The delicious honey and toast characters of Mcguigan’s award-winning Bin 9000 Semillon, are the perfect complement to the sprawling, bucolic landscape of the Hunter Valley below.

Enjoy a round of golf on a world-class course

With various, tranquil golf courses dotted around the Hunter Valley wine region, there is something for every skill level from putt putt at Hunter Valley Aqua Golf and Putt Putt to a Greg Norman-designed championship course on the grounds of the luxury resort, Chateau Elan. ‘Stay and Play’ packages allow you to play a casual round and then meditate on the peacefulness of the course over a glass of Semillon, moments from your luxury suite.

A full day spa treatment

Drinking wine is all about indulgence, relaxation and enjoying the finer things in life; which makes a spa visit the perfect end to a day of cellar door visits. The Golden Door Health Retreat houses the state's largest day spa, Spa Elysia, known for its Watsu Aquatic Bodywork, or opt for a hot spa on the deck at the Chateau Elan, overlooking the mountains as your stress melts away.

See some live music

The Hunter Valley wine region is famous not only for its wines but for the way it brings together a fantastic local drop, decadent food and world-class entertainment. With venues as exciting as the music they are staging, it is well worth spending an evening enjoying some live entertainment. From world-class rock stars performing on the lawn at Tempus Two to smaller, more intimate gigs hosted at cellar doors around the region, there is something for every taste. Enjoyed with a stunning vineyard backdrop and Hunter’s famous wines and hospitality, you can’t go past a concert in the Hunter.

Hunter Valley Wineries

The Hunter Valley wine region has an expansive array of wineries from biodynamic producers to vineyards which have existed since the mid-nineteenth century.

  • Audrey Wilkinson Winery: The winery for heritage and stunning views, Audrey Wilkinson Winery was established in 1866 and features 360-degree views of vineyards with the stunning backdrop of the Brokenback Ranges.
  • Briar Ridge: For boutique wines, you can’t go past Briar Ridge. Known, like much of the Hunter Valley wine region for its Shiraz and Semillon, Briar Ridge also features lesser-known wines grown in smaller quantities and again, is situated in stunning surroundings.
  • Brokenwood: Young and modern with its iconic and unique tasting pods, Brokenwood has become one of the country’s most reputable wines. Consistently voted a five-star winery, Brokenwood is the largest wine complex in the Hunter Valley wine region.
  • Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard: Set in within a beautiful French-inspired garden, Krinklewood produces certified organic wines, from a sustainable and holistic vineyard.
  • McGuigan Cellar Door is now open: An iconic name when it comes to Hunter Valley wine, the newly renovated Mcguigan cellar door is set in the heart of the Hunter. Offering informative tasting experiences guided by experts, you can learn about the entire wine process from vine to table as you sip award-winning wines.  

 

 

Must-Try Hunter Valley Wine

With so many wineries and wines to choose from where do you start when trying a Hunter Valley wine? Three of the highest-rated and sought after wines of the Hunter Valley wine region include:

  1. McGuigan Personal Reserve Shiraz: The quintessential Hunter Valley wine, McGuigan’s Personal Reserve Shiraz is one of the most popular wines in the region. With rich deep purple to red tones and notes of spicy raspberry and black cherry, this Shiraz is an indulgent wine, perfect with venison or other gamey meats.
  2. Mount Pleasant 'Eight Acres' Semillon: Semillon is another Hunter Valley staple. Eight Acres has an intense nose, exuding citruses mandarin, and lemongrass. Soft and balanced, driven by a perfect acidity the long, fresh finish would pair well with fresh lobster or crab.
  3. Lakes Folly, Hunter Valley, Australia Bordeaux Blend Red: Grown in volcanic soils and made for ageing, this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Chardonnay. With earthy characters and blackcurrant and violet aromas, it is a highly expressive and individual wine.