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  • Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

New South Wales

About

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

Hunter Valley Varietals

The unique climate of the Hunter Valley sets the scene for wines of great ageing potential. As the area enjoys moderately warm and humid conditions, semillon and shiraz grapes are plump full of flavour. Chardonnay is also a key player, with James mentioning that “Tyrrell’s and Lake’s Folly are setting the pace.” Additionally, the Hunter Valley produces the finest verdelho in the country, being a niche white grape brought over from Portugal.

Semillon:

Hunter Valley semillon is no stranger to the wine-drinking world; it’s arguably what they’re known for most. The semillon grape is honey skinned and sits at the top of the dry white wine varieties. It’s also not unusual to hear winemakers pronounce sem-ih-yon, which is true to phonetics. Hunter Valley semillon can be enjoyed throughout its entire lifespan: from a youthful example exempting citrus and herbs, to matured semillon noting honey and toast.

Shiraz:

Shiraz is at the centre of Australian red varieties and has grown in the Hunter Valley since the first vines were planted. James says that “shiraz was planted here before it was plated in any other region in Australia”, which solidifies its importance to the region. Young Hunter Valley shiraz has blackberry notes, with spices and strong tannins, whereas matured versions become deep in flavour, with compelling complexities.

Chardonnay:

The Hunter Valley produces applaudable chardonnay. Expect a dry white wine that’s soft and bursting with freshness. Hunter Valley chardonnay is also known for its rich and creamy qualities, with oak notes that are subtle, but certainly recognised.

Verdelho:

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.

Hunter Valley Ranges

Facts

Wineries 222
Tasting Notes 9668

Geographic

Latitude 32° 54'S
Altitude 76m
Heat Degree Days 1823
Growing Season Rainfall 493mm
Mean January Temp 24°C
Harvest Late January to mid March