In the northern part of Sydney, away from the bustle and hustle of city life and famous iconic architectural structures like Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, you will find Hunter Valley Region. This region is a place where you can still see and taste the real wine in New South Wales and probably in Australia. This place is where the early vineyard history began to modern vineyard history. In 1823 about 20 acres of vineyards had been planted on the northern banks of the Hunter River, now known as Dalwood & Gresford area. With the arrival of viticulturalists James Busby who had a collection of 500 vine cuttings from his collections and private plantings contributed to the establishment of Hunter Valley’s claims to viticultural fame. By 1930s, the Pokolbin area built a reputation for quality wine production and number of qualified winemakers improved the Hunter Valley’s reputation in New South Wales. Since then, Hunter Valley has been one of Australia’s most well-known wine region. Within the Hunter region, there are over 150 wineries producing a wide array of exceptional wines reflective of their origin. It is a special place to come and enjoy the wine industry.
Going on any wine tours, whether in Australia or overseas, it is not only about tasting various wines and meeting other like-minded people but it is a great way to meet grape-stained winemakers. It is about been educated and learning about the regions rich winemaking histories and appreciating the fine art of wine. Australia has some of the best wineries, like the Barossa, Yarra Valley and Margaret River. Many of these places have sweep up all the tourists but the vineyards in Hunter Valley region have been turning heads in the wine world.
Wine tasting tours has become a major draw card for wine lovers and tourists globally. I always had a desire to go on a wine tour but never had a chance to go on one. Whilst visiting Newcastle city – gateway to Hunter Valley region and without any hesitation, it was about time to go on a wine tasting tour in the beautiful Hunter Valley. To get the real taste of the wines, going on a tour was the best option rather than private or self-drive tours, which can be limited to wineries you can visit. This was the ultimate way to celebrate my first introduction to the wine tasting world in this picturesque setting and I didn’t have to steer the wheels during the tour.
Going on a wine tasting tour for the first time, my expectation was low and I decided to do a full-day wine and cheese tasting tour even though am not a wine and cheese connoisseur but I wanted to learn more about the wine, especially and simply to have a good time. A perfect sunny morning, the tour driver arrived on time and I was the first one to be picked up before 14 other people. Been new to the area, I was quiet pleased that I was the first to be onboard so I was able to have a tour whilst picking up other passengers around the area. The driver was brilliant from the first minute. He was very chatty, telling jokes with a great sense of humour, showed great enthusiasm and showed interest in the fellow wine tasting enthusiast. Along the way to our first vineyard, he was very informative about the Hunter Valley in general. With 15 people on the tour, the driver made everyone feel very welcome and comfortable and there was no awkwardness at any stage – considering we were all strangers and different ethnic backgrounds (it was only me, the rest were caucasians). The tour took us to 5 wineries and all the wine and cheese tasting was included in the tour package, apart from purchasing wine goodies.
The luncheon included in the tour package was at Mount Pleasant wineries. The food provided was absolutely wonderful and certainly there was plenty of wine to consume. Having lunch in this idyllic setting over-looking the vineyards was a perfect location and it couldn’t been any better than this. I was totally mesmerised by the vineyards and how this fruits we know are produced or turn into wine.
The tour driver took us to some of the more boutique vineyards, which was very enjoyable. My favourite was Tulloch, followed by Mt Pleasant and McGuigans. In every wineries, we visited, the hosts were excellent and very knowledgable in what they were presenting to us.
By the time, we got to our last tasting of the wineries, the wines were starting to kick in and everyone on the tour were more interested in chatting with each other than actually tasting the wine. We ended the day with a tour and tasting of the cheese factory. It was a fantastic way to end our tour.
Hunter Valley produces some of the Australia’s finest drops and my visit to their terroir was an absolute pleasure. What a thrill it was to go on a wine tour. It was absolutely entertaining, diverse and informative. Wine tour was a great way to enjoy the vineyards of the valley and as well as gaining an insights into wine making, meeting passionate makers and enjoying a glass in their own idyllic settings.
All in all, it was a fantastic full-day wine tour in the Hunter Valley. I would certainly be very happy to do it again – without a doubt, I am now hooked on the wine tasting tours.
Getting around and where to stay?
Getting around in Hunter Valley is easy and all wineries are within reach with plenty of spaces. Most vineyards have places to eat and have very good restaurants from fine-dinning to casual style places.
There are various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget from camping grounds, caravan parks to old vineyard cottages to guesthouses, as well as retreats and luxury resorts right next to the championship golf courses with mesmerising views. Most old cottages that are made up are absolutely great place to stay to enjoy the authentic Hunter Valley experience.