The birthplace of Australian wine, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales is a place of deep tradition and modern innovation, and provides an idyllic escape into the country from Sydney’s urban setting. Read on to bookmark some treasured cellar doors for when we can next venture to the region.
De IuliisThree generations of the De Iuliis family has seen this Pokolbin winery continue to grow in both size and stature since its establishment in 1986. Its cellar door, established just prior to the turn of the millennium, offers open space and glorious views out onto lively surrounding Australian splendour.
A visit to De Iuliis is intended to “feel like visiting an old friend.” And neighbouring with Hunter Belle Cheese conveniently offers the perfect pairing for the wines on offer. The cellar door features style for all tastes, staff that are both knowledgeable and welcoming, and even a beloved resident Groodle named Lucy. Exemplifying the communal atmosphere of the Hunter Valley at large, De Iuliis is a relaxing, tranquil break from the bustle of the outside world, an escape befitting of the region it occupies.
Winemaker Mike De Iuliis says: "If you haven’t explored the Hunter Valley, either in person or in the glass, you’re missing out on something spectacular. Think good-value, food-friendly wines that are well suited to a modern Australian lifestyle… the Hunter has so much to offer anyone who loves a good wine and a good day out."
1616 Broke Road, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley | Find out more.
Hollydene EstateHome to the region’s only “restaurant in a winery”, the Williams family spent the four years between 2010 and 2014 extensively refurbishing Hollydene Estate and today offers a multi-award-winning restaurant and stunning cellar door experience to its visitors. Occupying one of the Hunter Valley’s oldest vineyards at Arrowfield, Hollydene reveals breathtaking views of the Wollemi National Park.
The soils of the Upper Hunter Valley, which Hollydene shares with just two other wineries, originates from lava, giving them enriching access to essential minerals feeding some of the region’s oldest vines. The winery produces an extensive collection of variety and vintages, including chardonnay, shiraz, and semillon; the 2019 vintage of the latter is particularly exciting for its positive critical response and aging potential.
Director and owner Karen Williams says: "I love the control I have over the wine-making process, from the timing of the winter pruning, to the picking of the vintage, the fermentation process and the timing of the bottling. The Upper Hunter Valley, with its dry warm climate, specific terroir and undulating terrain, produces distinctive high-class wines of a number of varietals."
3483 Golden Hwy, Jerrys Plains | Find out more.
Mount Pleasant WinesThis year, Mount Pleasant celebrates its centenary. Gazing over the peaceful oasis where founder Maurice O’Shea crafted some of Australia’s greatest table wines a century ago, Mount Pleasant is a place of both rich tradition and progressive winemaking reflective of the region it occupies.
Award-winning wines and alluring vistas abound in the Parish of Pokolbin, a rich locale for viticulture away from the hustle and bustle of Pokolbin proper. With staff devoted to pairing its guests with the right wine, Mount Pleasant lives up to its name both inside and out and opens up to the stunning sights of the Brokenback Range. Visitors can soak in the scenery of the surrounding lands and the winery’s resilient, hundred-year-old-plus vineyards, while sampling the fruits of their labour.
Winemaker Adrian Sparks says: "There is a perfect mix of tradition and innovation in the Hunter Valley with iconic sites being maintained generation after generation alongside new plantings of Mediterranean varieties such as fiano, vermentino and tempranillo."
401 Marrowbone Road, Pokolbin | Find out more.
Winmark WinesA proud producer of premium chardonnay, Winmark offers its guests an experience that traverses both the modern and traditional styles of the variety. Pairing their wine with locally produced cheese plates, the winery offers a sublime cellar door experience. The location overlooks the 28 acre chardonnay vineyard and provides views of the iconic Pooles Rock, as well as Yellow Rock and Mount Broke on the Broke Fordwich Wine Trail.
Deciding from inception to specialise in chardonnay, Winmark looks to its promising 2021 vintage following the sad loss of its 2020 vintage to smoke taint. By the end of the year, the winery looks to unveil two new chardonnay labels to the world. Winmark’s grounds are ripe for exploring, a wonderland of sculptures and natural landmarks that share the unforgettable surrounding landscape.
Winemaker Karin Adcock says: "The Broke Fordwich area offers guests authentic experiences meeting local winemakers and is the ultimate escape to explore, savour and unwind. Take the trail less travelled, and spend time at Winmark where art, nature and wine connect."
229 Wollombi Road, Broke | Find out more.
*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.