The Hunter Valley is one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Australia, a country whose popularity in the wine field is growing year after year…
The Hunter Valley is a paradise for the eyes and for the palate. Known as the oldest wine area in all of Australia, it is located in a region not far from the coastal strip of New South Wales just a few kilometres from the city of Newcastle and therefore very close to Sydney. Due to its proximity to the latter, it's not uncommon to find some of the city's inhabitants here, looking for a relaxing weekend getaway.
Huge fields of flat vineyards alternate with huge estates with horses kept in very large fenced areas. Everything is cared for and neat in a truly impeccable manner. Perfectly cut meadows everywhere, buildings and well-kept estates and the geometries of the vines help to emphasize the order and perfection of the Hunter Valley.
It was really extraordinary to see kangaroos hopping among the vineyards!
It was in the first decades of the 1800s when the area began to fill up with grape crops and vineyards. The production grew considerably until it came to a standstill that felt a counter-trend in more recent times. Today some consider it an area of limited production but truth is that here are produced two of the best wines of all Australia, the Shiraz and the Semillon as I previously said.
In addition to tasting excellent wines, in the numerous wineries around here, you will encounter along your route renowned restaurants and gourmet shops where it is possible to taste local products before buying them.
You ought to remember in fact that the area is also famous for its gastronomic excellence therefore it is possible to taste what you can purchase directly from the producers: it is a definitely not to be missed opportunity for the foodies. And Australians, once known for tasteless (mostly English based) cuisine, are now getting popular chefs and appreciating quality food more and more, also thanks to the widespread TV shows on cooking.
The great majority of the wineries give the opportunity to taste their wines for free and to buy some bottles on site if you particularly like them. In rare cases a small sum may be required for tastings: this is only done in the most famous and prestigious estates.
The valley is divided into two areas called Lower and Upper Hunter Valley. In the first you will find most of the wineries, while in the second you will be able to savour the true essence of rural life in the Australian countryside and observe with your own eyes the life on the farms of this area.
The best way to visit and appreciate the area is certainly by car because it will allow you to be completely independent in your travels.
But take care not to exceed the speed limits and the limits regarding the consumption of alcohol behind the wheel: the Australian traffic police can be quite strict in this regard and there are many checks along the wine routes. Also know that many agencies arrange tours organized throughout the day and that could be the ideal solution if you don't have your own vehicle or if you don’t want to be the designated driver!
We opted for an organized tour so we could enjoy the panorama during the trip.