The Hunter Valley is honoured worldwide as being the birthplace of Australian wine. With vines dating back to the 1800s, some of the most awarded varieties are produced in the area, including semillon, shiraz, chardonnay, and verdelho. As well as those first families who have been established in the region for decades, there’s also a rising number of up-and-coming wineries that are equally as interesting. Regarded as a place where history meets new-day, there’s plenty to explore: striking hikes through national parks, music concerts that pulsate the vineyards, and sweeping views enjoyed from high in the sky. With so much to learn, see and do, there’s no better time to take a breath where it all began.
Pokolbin is at the heart of the Hunter Valley, and it’s where many visitors start and end. But the region is home to several other areas offering top wine, dining and attractions – including Broke Fordwich, Lovedale, the Wollombi Valley and Mount View, to name a few – so it’s worth looking further afield too. Begin your discovery ahead.
THE HISTORY OF THE HUNTER VALLEY
Rich history is one of the Hunter Valley’s most prized possessions, next to the fine wine that has grown with it. The first plantings date back to 1823, with the early settlers of winemaking history named as George Wydnham, William Kelman and James King. James Busby, however, was responsible for bringing a near 500 vine cuttings over from Europe and South Africa to the Hunter Valley. Once they had sprout, and the area flourished with fruits, families became established here: the Lindeman, Drayton, Tyrrell and Wilkinson families to name a few. In the 1960s, a shift in drinking culture was noted, with drier wines coming to the fore. These dry varieties are what the Hunter Valley is regarded highly for today.
THE HUNTER VALLEY WINE STYLES
Verdelho is a white variety that has thrived in the Hunter for decades. It’s clear, fresh, and aromatic. Verdelho is delightful on a hot summer day, particularly when enjoying the afternoon sun. Expect summer fruits, with subtle minerals that linger.
Things to do in the hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley offers a variety of experiences, although you may find wine is a common companion throughout. Take a horseback ride through the scenic Molly Morgan Range, where glorious views can be enjoyed on track. Trek through the Yengo, Watagans, Mt Royal and Wollemi national parks, and experience the best of local and international music — Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and Elton John have all performed in vineyards within Hunter Valley. The art appreciator can visit Mistletoe Winery, where a sculpture garden and gallery await exploration, and at Wilderness and Art Retreats, let resident artist Jacquie Mather accommodate you. Her peaceful abode offers a welcome space where you’re free to create. For those longing moments of peace within nature, it’s essential to take a float in a hot air balloon. There’s no better way to take in this stunning wine country.
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Late January to mid March